Free climbing the face of a cliff

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A new movie is out about climbing el Capitan in Yosemite. These brave climbers just have good climbing shoes and rosin for a steady grip .No ropes ,piton or any safety equipment. They are standing. on ledges 3 inches thick and grip with their fingers smaller ledges to make it to the top.
How do they know the ledges will support their weight and not crumble.? What if they are hanging on to a ledge and the ledge breaks off?
Do they do a trial climb with all the safety equipment to check for the structural integrity of each point they expect to use on their free climb later on so they know everything is sturdy?
 

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  • #2
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A new movie is out about climbing el Capitan in Yosemite. These brave climbers just have good climbing shoes and rosin for a steady grip .No ropes ,piton or any safety equipment. They are standing. on ledges 3 inches thick and grip with their fingers smaller ledges to make it to the top.
How do they know the ledges will support their weight and not crumble.?
They don't.
What if they are hanging on to a ledge and the ledge breaks off?
They fall.
Do they do a trial climb with all the safety equipment to check for the structural integrity of each point they expect to use on their free climb later on so they know everything is sturdy?
They could. Did they? Is there an obvious separate, non-telescopic perspective? A BOGO, "Two climbs for the price of one?"
 
  • #3
Borek
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My bet is that all possible climbing routes on el Captain are well known for their risks, and whoever climbs it without safety equipment knows precisely what path to follow.
 
  • #4
PeroK
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Some climbing routes have loose rock and holds that may be suspect. And, in fact, climbing guide books often indicate this with a symbol. Sea cliffs, for example, have generally more risk of this.

El Capitan is solid granite, so there is a minimal chance of a hold breaking off. That said, there was a large rockfall last year that killed a climber who was approaching the bottom of the cliff. So, climbing is not without its risks, safety equipment or not.

That said, climbing El Cap without safety gear is a dangerous undertaking whoever you are.
 
  • #5
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They don't.They fall.They could. Did they? Is there an obvious separate, non-telescopic perspective? A BOGO, "Two climbs for the price of one?"
In general, the top climbers who do stuff like this know the route in the same way a gymnast knows his or her routine. They will rehearse the harder moves repeatedly.

The first climber to climb the "Nose" route on El Cap without artificial aid was Lynn Hill and she worked the hardest pitches over and over. Initially, even for her, there were impossible moves. But, eventually she worked it all out and, climbing with a rope for safety, climbed the whole route from bottom to top.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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A new movie is out about climbing el Capitan in Yosemite. These brave climbers just have good climbing shoes and rosin for a steady grip .No ropes ,piton or any safety equipment. They are standing. on ledges 3 inches thick and grip with their fingers smaller ledges to make it to the top.
How do they know the ledges will support their weight and not crumble.?
3" is a big ledge. While it's not impossible for a 3" ledge to break off when you grip or stand on it, a 3" thick rock plate is reeaaaly strong and reeaaally heavy, so a rock climber should not have much of an effect on it. You could confidently hang a truck from a 3" ledge. Last year's winter snow and ice would be much tougher on it.

[edit] ...perhaps even a small ship depending on how long the ledge is. Granite has a compressive strength of about 30,000 psi. A 12' x 3" ledge could just about support the frigate I was stationed on.
 
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  • #8
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Climbing the exact route a few weeks before with harness and all safety equipment would be expected. This way all the moves can be rehearsed like a gymnast at a gymnastic event. By the way is free climbing down el Capitan from the summit more dangerous? Was it ever done?
 
  • #9
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  • #10
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Are those the climbers you speak of?
 
  • #11
Are those the climbers you speak of?
Mountain goats are better climbers and with no hands!
 

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