British climber Pete Whittaker has claimed the first one-push flash of a free-route on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Whittaker climbed the 32-pitch Freerider (5.12d) over three days, sending every pitch first try. However, it is worth noting that Whittaker first attempted the Huber Variation (5.13a) on pitch 24 and fell, ticking this harder variation on his second try. Whittaker then rapped down and climbed the alternate pitch, sending the Teflon Corner (5.12d) on his first attempt.
“I couldn’t believe [Whittaker’s] performance after I’d been on [the Teflon Corner] for just 15 minutes,” wrote Whittaker’s climbing partner Tom Randall on their blog Wideboyz. “Such a good effort to not make a single mistake.”
With the hardest pitch behind him, the pressure was on for Whittaker.
“He still had ‘the flash’ in hand, but now there was 10+ pitches of up to E6 (5.12b) above that no silly mistakes could be made on,” wrote Randall.
Whittaker had a close call on the sandbagged, second Enduro Corner (5.12b). While liebacking the 50-foot pitch, Whittaker got pumped and had to fight.
Wrote Randall, “With everything he had, he crimped it up, got the beefcake out and gunned it to the top of the pitch looking at a huge fall if he fell before the belay.”
Randall and Whittaker topped out and both managed to send each pitch on lead, and Whittaker making an impressive flash of Freerider. Whittaker and Randall had gleaned beta from Valley locals and friends before attempting the route, but had left all pitches “sight unseen” until their attempt.
Freerider is El Cap’s easiest free-route and was established by Alex and Thomas Huber in 1998. In 2009, Swiss climber Cédric Lachat also flashed Freerider, however, he climbed the first 10-pitches – the popular Free Blast (5.11b) – 10 days before attempting the rest of the route. Lachat opted not to climb the first 10 pitches on his attempt of the full Freerider. Lachat also repeatedly fell on the Huber Variation pitch before climbing the Teflon Corner first try.