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El Capitan Base Routes
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Short But Thin T 
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Slack ( center), The T 
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West Buttress (pitch 1&2) T 

Freeblast 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c

   
Type:  Trad, 10 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c [details]
FA: Jim Bridwell, John Long, Kevin Worrall, Mike Graham, John Bachar, Ron Kauk, 1975
Page Views: 12,960
Submitted By: Alex Shainman on Jul 10, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (54)
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Yeah that looks like fun! Hoard's of people on th...

Description 

Totally CLASSIC route in its own right! Will get you ready for typical El Cap weirdness. All the hardest pitches rely on good bolts and some questionable fixed gear.

P1. Start from the pedestal and aim for the double cracks. Cool opposing crack moves and lots of good pro tapers to a hand size crack with some loose flakes and then a 2-bolt anchor on the right. (5.10)

P2. Jam or lieback (better) the unassumingly awkward flake/crack to a hanging 3-bolt belay under the roof. (5.8)
  • Belay low, away from anchor. Right bolt will be 1st piece for next lead.

P3. Demanding and committing free-climbing with small underclings, shitty feet and hidden pin-scar moves around the roof...Very exciting...Head up to the cool flare and stem up to a ledge through a fun blocky section. (5.11)
  • Gear at roof is one bolt, a sketchy upward driven pin and two fixed wired at the end of the roof (both have very frayed cables and one is about to snap as of mid June 2007).

P4. A face move connects to the continuous arching crack out left (can protect up high in right crack). Follow the awesome tips crack with good pro and lieback/stem your way up and over the bulge and onto a good ledge and bolted anchor. (5.10)

P5. Run it out up the precipitous groove. The groove thins to a heavily pin-scarred seam. Have all your offset nuts and Aliens ready to unload where you can but don't block your fingers! Do a trick move right over the bulge and link a couple more finger pods until you can clip the first of several good bolts. (10)
...Tiptoe out left to clip bolts and a pin using long runners (ignore the pins/bolts that go up and left. Start a rising friction traverse out right past a couple bolts. Stay to the right of the bolt line for a hard stand-up crux move and clip a bolt which probably has a poot-sling on it. From the last bolt, balance through a thought provoking section with a drilled hook hole and blunt knob. Its run out to the anchor over easing terrain and mantles. (5.11)

P6. Friction climbing with some small edges follows a closely spaced bolt ladder (new bolts). At the end of the ladder make a tough move left to an overlap with a good pin to clip. Continue to make exciting crux moves until you can stand in the polished, crystalline dike and clip a bolt. A slippery traverse left finally puts you on a ledge...A very cool face pitch, my favorite.
(5.11)

P7. Jam and stem up a right facing corner and up and over a steep section with some interesting flakes. Set up a belay off gear and pins below the Half Dollar flake. (5.9)

P8. The Half Dollar (the easiest of the wide features on the Salathe and quite fun if you do it right)...Undercling and jam to a stance at the sweeping corner. After a frustrating gear placement, stand-up and twist it up! There is good gear in the corner.
  • KEY BETA: Get your right side toward the corner and stem up and hopefully you can reach jugs on the left wall which can be liebacked as you stem until you can finally jam the crack. Once you are in the middle of the corner/chimney there are different ways to do it. Climb over a big block on the ledge and belay. Make it fun!! (5.10)

P9-10. Can be linked with a 70M or 60M and 20' of simul-climbing...Broken corners to a blocky, rampy
crack system. Bolted anchor at the right edge of the big ledge.

  • Traverse left to another anchor and either start downclimbing or single rope rap to another anchor...Keep downclimbing the inside sometimes wide corner/crack (5.10) or do a double rope rap over to Heart Ledge and the beginning of the double rope rappels to the base...Look around for anchor options on the way down and slightly right.

Location 

First ten-eleven pitches of the Salathe Wall route. Left side of the Nose buttress.

Protection 

Runners and draws. Double set of cams from blue Alien to blue Camalot). Include a set of (offset) wired nuts plus double offset brass (HB's are nice). Tag an extra rope unless you KNOW FOR SURE that the raps are fixed and are rigged up properly! People do weird things up there...


Photos of Freeblast Slideshow Add Photo
Leo Houlding nearing the top of pitch 3
Leo Houlding nearing the top of pitch 3
Greg Jackson, pitch 5
Greg Jackson, pitch 5
Trask Bradbury on Pitch 5 of Freeblast
Trask Bradbury on Pitch 5 of Freeblast
Moving up the Freeblast on a clear morning.  This ...
Moving up the Freeblast on a clear morning. This ...
Starting up pitch 4 of 'Freeblast'
Starting up pitch 4 of 'Freeblast'
Crux pitch of Freeblast/ it really is not rated R....
BETA PHOTO: Crux pitch of Freeblast/ it really is not rated R....
Finished with the freeblast and on to bigger thing...
Finished with the freeblast and on to bigger thing...
Christina uses her feet to good effect.
Christina uses her feet to good effect.

Comments on Freeblast Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 8, 2012
By Greg Smith
From: Canon City, CO
Jul 31, 2007

Hey Alex, this 5 pitch really scares me at the beginning, I agree with your R rating (however, i am ususally just impatient while placing nuts!)
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Sep 22, 2007

I like pitches 1, 4 and 5 best, but each pitch is good. I had HB offsets with me, and though I was gripped I wouldn't give 5 an R rating. The protection reminded me of Poodles are People Too in Josh, small but solid. Plus, even a sizeable fall on this slab wouldn't be so bad I don't think.
By heppnerd
Aug 14, 2008

I thought this climb sucked I hope the rest of freerider is better.
We did beggars buttress and the rostrum on the same trip both were
way better. Maybe my expectations were too high for freeblast but
considering the location and history you can understand why. Most of
the climbing was forgetable awkward or just plain blah.
By BenL
Jan 27, 2009
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

I wouldn't call P5 R, the gear is thin but pretty good, bring aliens.
The climb is awesome. All pitches might not be 4 stars out of 4 but the location is just perfect, an pitches 1,2,4,5 are consistently amazing! Pitch 2 has some funky fixed gear.
get on it, really good outing when you're back from a bigwall and you aren't up for more hauling and want be on the big stone.
By AWinters
Administrator
From: NH
Jun 3, 2009

The cable on one of the two fixed wires at the roof of pitch 3 is now blown, the remaining one is still usable. There is also a new fixed .75 camalot on pitch one (dammit). We beat the rain on this one, and had Mr. Leo Houlding on our ass thru pitch 6 where he passed us very politely, climbing like the wind.
By Kat A
From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Jun 5, 2009

I agree with the above comments - this didn't feel like it was R rated. The roof has two fixed pieces - an old pin and a decent nut. We found the crux of this route to be the 5.10 slabs on P5 and P6, rather than the 11a roof.
By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
Aug 1, 2010

I believe the 3rd pitch is the only one that likely warrants an .11 rating. Also, almost every other pitch as described here is overrated. The description here makes it sound way more sustained that it actually is. For example, the Half Dollar has a short section of 5.10b getting around the roof. The last two pitches are only 5.8 and 5.7 respectively, not 5.10. This is well confirmed by pretty much every guide leading up to Supertopo.

I'd also disagree with the R rating. Thin wires and cams/offsets, whatever, all work pretty well. A fun climb and awesome for high you get on the Captain considering the amount of work usually required to get 1000' off the deck.
By Colin Simon
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 1, 2012

I believe pitch 5 absolutely warrants an R rating. You would take a wonderful cheesegrater.

Offset cams work best, but there is still 5.10 above questionable gear.
By Matt Desenberg
From: North Berwick, ME
Jul 5, 2012

I didn't lead the fifth pich, but my partner had some lowe balls and seemed pretty pysched that he had them. They seemed to fit well when the crack pinches down to a seam.
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Oct 8, 2012

Gear beta:

P3: The pin that protects most of the business is in really, really bad shape. One half of the eye is broken off/gone and the other half is cracked. If aiding, no problem there is gear available next to it. If free climbing that placement is a crucial hand hold. I whipped onto this pin, and it held, but it's a timebomb. There is currently a fixed wire at the end of the roof, and a blown wire next to it with some hinky rigging on it.

P5: Take offset/hybrid aliens from yellow/green to black/blue, regular aliens, and a set of peanuts and offset brass and you can take the "R" out of p5. Still an exciting pitch. Sling the leftmost (2nd?) bolt on this pitch long or you will pay big time with rope drag.

Last two pitches: Stay to the right for the first half of the first of these pitches, through vegetated terrain (looks less probable and less clean than the left side, but the left side puts you into loose terrain with no reliable pro at one point looking at slopey/loose 5.8 moves and a 30' ledge fall if you blow it)

General impressions:

A really good route, with some outstanding pitches (the p1/p2 link is especially good), but a few of the belays detract from the route. Mainly the top of 2, which puts the climber directly over the belayer with a good chance of falling onto them and/or catching a foot in the belay rigging when starting the crux of p3. P5 would be much better if it were split into two with a belay at the first or second bolt, as it is the rope drag can screw you pretty bad on what is relatively hard/tenuous slab climbing. And the belay below the roof of the half dollar has some old ass pins/fixed nut (you can use gear if you have any left, .75 camalot to #3) and poor stance. Getting into the Half Dollar is sequential and seemed like a giant sandbag...until you find the hidden holds...still awkward.

Fixed lines from Heart (and from top of freeblast down to heart) blow ass right now, every line has at least one knot to pass, a couple with multiples. What should take 10 minutes takes about 30 and the anchors are so clustered that rapping your own lines isn't really an option.