Photos and captions by Bradford Pope McArthur
Transient sailboat-based photographer and filmmaker Bradford Pope McArthur (
@bradfordpopemcarthur) took over Rock and Ice’ s Instagram feed to share his photos from the Muir Wall, El Cap, Yosemite, where Brette Harrington, Marc-Andre Leclerc and Alan Carne spent over a month to free the 33-pitch route.
Brette Harrington /
Marc-Andre Leclerc /
Alan Carne /
Brette Harrington belays Marc-Andre Leclerc as he goes for an exploratory lead on the first 5.13 crux pitch of the Muir Wall. The hot temps, however, made the wild pressure moves on the polished wall far too slippery. For the next few days the team became night owls and filled the Valley with screams, whips and a whole lot of tryhard.
Alan Carne is a crushing machine, and at 56 years old he still swallows 5.13s for breakfast. His eyesight, however, is not what it used to be and he therefore uses a high-powered headlamp for anything from brushing his teeth to shadow dancing his way across the wild press traverse in this shot. Channelling his inner Bridwell, he slowly unlocks the puzzle, well past his usual bedtime.
The Muir Wall team! Brette Harrington, Marc-Andre Leclerc and Alan Carne spent over a month working to free El Cap’s 33-pitch Muir Wall. Here we are camped out on the Grey Ledges right below the second crux pitch, Silverfish Corner (5.13b/c). While a roof mostly protected our mid-wall camp, mini icefalls and waterspouts constantly bombarded the small ledges and portaledge as fall began to look more like winter.
Brette Harrington gives every last bit of energy she has to unlock the moves of the infamous Silverfish Corner (5.13b/c) pitch on El Cap’s Muir Wall. Silverfish Corner has a few things going for it. No matter the weather, a roof keeps the pitch mostly dry and climbable, even when El Cap is shedding its coating of ice. But that’s about the only thing it’ll give you. I’ve rarely seen so much passion, effort and focus on such a pitch. The team spent days hanging out in the damp and icy camp zone below the pitch, taking turns heading up and working the moves. Not afraid to whip on knife blades, micro offsets and the like, Brette and the rest of the team eventually unlocked their specific beta and kept the upward progress going.
I’d love to take this opportunity to thank Brette Harrington, Marc-Andre Leclerc and Alan Carne for letting me join their party on their voyage up the Big Stone. None of us at the time had much, if any, big wall climbing experience and I certainly wasn’t putting up any of the tough pitches. I was simply there to get in the way, shoot some film and haul for a pitch or two… or 15. What a rad month that was, thank you guys so much!
Here’s the team, waiting for the final crux pitch to dry. As you can see, Brette Harrington is always ultra serious in her down time and uses it to find her inner chi in order to crush the last 5.13 above. Brette, Marc-Andre Leclerc and Alan Carne have been working on the Muir Wall for almost a month and are so close to success!
In a place like Yosemite, so many different moments stand out as landmarks in my memory. Getting your first view of the walls when returning after a year away; that moment as you take your last step off terra firma and launch into the void above; and almost as good—while ragged and dehydrated—topping out the Big Stone. Without a doubt, however, my two favorite moments are sunrise and sunset. Like bastions in time these walls have experienced eons before we were around and will continue to know the world long after we leave. It’s no surprise that each morning they welcome the sun before us and each evening they are the last to see it go. No wonder we attempt to scale their heights.
To me this image represents challenge—a moment when you see something totally out of your realm, but give 100 percent anyway. Here, Alan Carne stares up at a massively wide stem box as he tries to figure out, “how the heck am I going to get my legs to do that!” At the same time, I’m above him shooting during the worst time of day—the light was harsh and nothing was working. Instead of trying harder, we got creative and each unlocked our own puzzles. Thanks Rock and Ice for the opportunity to post some photos!