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Tuesday, February 4,2014

Masterful ascent in Mexico

Honnold free solos 5.12 route at El Potrero Chico

By Elizabeth Miller

Renowned free-solo climber Alex Honnold has quietly bagged yet another astounded climb, this time, traveling south to meet the warmer weather in Mexico. Honnold recently completed the 1,500-foot 5.12 route “El Sendero Luminoso” in the limestone cliffs of El Potrero Chico in Northern Mexico. Most of the sustained route’s 15 pitches earn a 5.12-level rating, and it dips no lower than 5.10.

Climbers typically take two days to complete the route, the name of which translates to “The Shining Path.” Honnold finished his ascent in three hours.

On The North Face blog, climber Cedar Wright, who partnered with Honnold to climb the route four times to clean it and memorize its moves, said, “Mostly I just tried not to think about him soloing the route while I was up there with him because it was so terrifying. Alex will downplay the achievement, but I can assure you this is one of the most cutting edge big-wall solos of all time.”

He described the route as often offering little more than a few millimeters for fingers and toes to grip enough to stay on the wall.

Honnold has free-soloed Zion’s Moonlight Buttress (also 5.12), as well as routes on Yosemite’s El Capitan, Mt. Watkins and Half Dome — completing “The Triple,” all three routes, in a single day in 2012 with minimal gear.

Of the “El Sendero Luminoso” solo, Honnold told The North Face, “It felt pretty straight forward. It is definitely a lot different than soloing a granite big wall where you are plugged into cracks and there are only a few sections where you have to remember the moves. … Once I started up, I was like; this is awesome. I didn’t blow a single foot … like a ballerina.”

Read the complete post on The North Face Never Stop Exploring blog here.

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