Great news from Patagonia Europe climbing ambassadors Nicolas Favresse and Sean Villanueva, the pair established a new free route up El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. In their ground-up effort, the team blended elements of current routes Eagles Way and Bad to the Bone on their way to the base of a hitherto-featureless wall. It was only after direct encounter with the face that The Secret Passage was revealed. Read the note Nico sent us upon completion of the climb:
Sean Villanueva and I just freed a new route on El Capitan! We just came down Friday, October 10th, after 5 days on the wall. It's for sure one of my best accomplishments and strongest climbing experiences. All my years of climbing seem to have blended together to brew this new major piece of climbing. The route tested my physical and mental abilities to their limit with the challenge of many hard pitches to send each day on the wall plus the fatigue of hauling. In order to leave the aid routes their original way, we were pushed to climb sometimes on very poor gear and at other times spaced apart. But beside the physical and mental challenge, the experience exploring the wall for a way to free it felt to me the most powerful. So many sections looked at first impossible but with optimism, faith and creativity all of them gave away a solution with an amazing amount of holds, which--if one of them did not exist--the route wouldn't go free. It felt like each solution was a sign of communication with the rock.
[Top: Nicolas Favresse and Sean Villanueva celebrate their successful establishment of new free route The Secret Passage. Photo: Nico Favresse Bottom: The Secret Passage as seen from the Valley. Click on pic to expand the image. Photo: Tom Evans.]