Freeing El Cap in a day has of course been on my mind since first freeing the Freerider in over 6 days in 2018. In continuation of my ground up theme, I’ve always thought it’d be radical to truly climb it in a day (without multiple days of prep and stashing that are usually used). The purest form of this would be to walk up to El Capitan with a partner and both free climb in standard multipitch style. By 2021 I felt as if I were fit enough to pull it off, but didn’t have any real leads on a partner for this unpopular method.
This November I spent two weeks in the Valley with a bit of flexibility in my plans. I was mainly planning to TR solo on an aspirational project, but my brother Billy wanted to blast out from SLC in the middle of my trip to do an El Cap lap together for his birthday. We both aren’t so into hard aid climbing, so the choice was between just a few lines. He mentioned maybe we could do a Freerider-as-can-be day ascent?
We would only have to compromise a small bit of speed from standard in-a-day tactics for me to get to try to redpoint along the way - I would microtraxion to follow his leads, rope solo free climb my short fixing segments, and then get proper belays for the hard bits. Billy and I had done the Salathe in a Day back in 2018 taking only 15 hours, so we figured the extra shenanigans could fit into the spare 9 hours. I was excited about the partnered ascent with Billy getting a bunch of his own quality climbing in, rather than just jugging.
For my in-a-day ascents I have come to prefer starting late evening, which we repeated again with a 7pm start. Climbing in the darkness is much less taxing than the intense daytime sun. An evening start also means a second wind of energy hits with sunrise keeping spirits high. Billy frenchfreed the freeblast as his first block while I followed free, swapping leads at Mammoth Terraces. I took over in order to free the odd downclimb at the Hollowflake on lead. We picked up our small haulbag here, which I had rope soloed up to stash two days before in a small compromise in style. This was our food, water, and a few extra cams for the ascent (The leader foot hauled the bag for each pitch from this point on).