A Great Two Weeks on El Cap

It has been a busy November on El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley, especially for elite women. Here are some of the highlights:

Barbara Zangerl climbing on El Capitan.

Barbara Zangerl climbing on El Capitan. Photo: Michaela Izakovicova


The exceptional Barbara Zangerl and her partner Lara Neumeier made a ground-up free ascent of the Muir Blast/El Corazón routes (5.13b, 35 pitches) in six days. They climbed all the 5.13s on lead and were able to flash/onsight a few of them. Zangerl and Neumeier topped out just before a storm came in.

Zangerl's and Neumeier's hands after the climb.

Zangerl and Neumeier’s hands after the climb. Photo: Barbara Zangerl


According to Zangerl, the chimneys, though graded lower, were a real challenge for them. Zangerl and Neumeier made a good duo.

“Throughout the whole process…Babsi [Barbara] shared her motivation and big-wall experience with me and fully supported me,” said Neumeier after the ascent. It was Zangerl’s sixth, and Neumeier’s first free climb of El Cap.

Michaela Izakovicova climbing Golden Gate on El Capitan.

Michaela Izakovicova on Golden Gate on El Capitan. Photo: Michaela Izakovicova


Golden Gate route

Michaela Izakovicova sent the Golden Gate route on El Cap, accompanied by partner Karel Novacek. Izakovicova said she’d been dreaming of this route ever since she sent Freerider in 2018. After an ankle injury and a year of ups and downs, she free-climbed this difficult line.

“I value this ascent even more because I led every single pitch of the route, free climbed every single pitch, and hauled most of it,” she wrote on social media.

The Slovakian climber also thanked her partner, “who doesn’t understand why I like to suffer on the wall but endlessly supports me.”

Hazel Findlay climbing El Nino on El Cap.

Hazel Findlay on El Nino on El Cap. Photo: Black Diamond Equipment


El Nino route

Elite climber Hazel Findlay from the UK climbed the El Nino route of El Cap with fellow Brit Angus Kille. Kille freed all the pitches over five days of climbing. Findlay sent four of the hardest pitches but failed to free the two final hard ones.

Later Findlay wrote, with an openness unusual for Instagram, “I’m trying hard…to share the deeper layers of my experience and some aspects of my psychology that I haven’t worked out yet. With this comes the risk of being misunderstood, and I often find that people want to stay in the realms of black-and-white thinking, along the lines of ‘she’s winning’ or ‘she’s losing’.”

After a difficult year for Findlay, this climb was an extremely positive experience for her.

Amity Warme on the wall.

Amity Warme on the wall. Photo: Nelson Klein


Amity Warme made a free ascent of the El Nino-Pineapple Express route (5.13c, 25 pitches) on the right side of El Capitan, along with her usual climbing partner Brent Barghahn. The pair weathered a storm, an injury, and a wet crux pitch.

“But [we] dug deep and both succeeded in pulling off a zero asterisks send,” she wrote, topping out after eight days on the wall.

El Corazon route

Sam Stroh, 22, freed the rugged El Corazon route on El Cap in just under 22 hours. “Everyone was supportive and let me hang out and chat in their portaledges while I waited to try the next crux pitch,” he said after the climb. “Climbing the four crux pitches at the top confidently and relaxed was one of the most satisfying moments in my climbing.”

Sam Stroh climbing.

Sam Stroh at work. Photo: Sam Stroh

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.