We’ve written plenty about Yosemite national park and the many feats that occur at its pinnacle of rock climbing, El Capitan. However, this article is special because in it we’ll be discussing a world record—something that’s getting harder and harder to come by in the world of climbing. Last month, 15-year old Connor Herson became the youngest person in the world to make a free ascent of the Nose on El Capitan.
The Nose is a route that is normally climbed with aids. In 1993, the legendary Lynn Hill made the first ever free ascent of the route. Since then, only 5 people have ever accomplished the feat. Connor just became the sixth. He used no fixed ropes to accomplish the feat and managed to make it to the summit in one push over three days. What’s more, he led all the pitches and placed all of the gear himself.
Connor managed to make it through 26 pitches without falling. When he came to the section of the climb known as “Changing Corners,” he found that someone had left fixed lines attached and the route was blocked. Near dark, Connor had to remove the lines before he could proceed, and just as he was making the last move of the pitch, he fell. He decided to take the rest of the night off and continued on to the summit the following morning.
Connor usually just climbs on the weekends, which many find surprising as freeing the Nose is something that only the most dedicated athletes have been able to do in the past. Because of his limited time, Connor only spent 16 total days working the route, spread out over several months.
Connor comes from a family of successful climbers, but when it comes to his own personal feelings about his accomplishment, he’s a bit reserved. He doesn’t have social media accounts, so he wasn’t boasting about his achievement. In fact, when he topped out his father was there to record his accomplishment, and when he asked Connor how he felt about freeing the Nose, Connor simply said, “Yeah, it’s a good route.”
One thing is for sure. The climbing world will likely be hearing a lot more from young Connor Herson.