Two women made the first all-female, one-day ascent of Salathé Wall, the historic route on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, this past weekend.
Libby Sauter, 31, of Las Vegas, and Alix Morris, 25, of Yosemite Village, started at the base of the 2,900-foot climb in darkness early Sunday and topped out before 1 a.m. Monday, completing their push in less than 19 hours.
They met before 6 a.m. and parked near El Cap Meadow, sorting gear to soft sounds of Radiohead before walking quickly to the base of the wall. Morris took the sharp end, leading the first pitch, while Sauter started the route with a bad cold. As she and Morris roped up early Sunday, Sauter said she planned to be expectorating a lot during the climb.
Morris, a strong free-climber who knows Salathé Wall, led the first 19 pitches in seven and a half hours. Sauter, who said it was her first time on Salathé, led the steeper, slower, aid-climbing pitches in 11 hours.
"I feel pretty terrible right now physically!" Sauter said in an email Tuesday morning. "My cold has had a strong resurgence! But I still have every bit as much of the post-send satisfaction going on. Just with a bit of a cough."
Cheyne Lempe, another climber with experience on Salathé, roped hundreds of feet down the face from the top to take photos and video of Sauter and Morris on the wall.
On Tuesday, Sauter posted a photo of Morris to Instagram and noted, "My best advice for climbing fast on El Cap is to tie in with crushers! @alixandramorris blasted us up the first 19 pitches of the Salathe Wall in a flash yesterday and then kept the stoke high through the night for my block! 18.5 hours total! #imtired #livewithoutlimits."
On Wednesday, she posted another photo to Facebook and wrote, "My first weekend as a weekend warrior! My first time up the Salathe! My first time taking a cam to the face and whipping in the dark. And the first all female Salathe in a day! Thanks for rope gunning the first block and for the late night encouragement Alix Morris! This rad photo is by Cheyne Lempe!"
Sauter, Morris and Lempe all have experience with YOSAR, Yosemite Search and Rescue. Sauter and Mayan Smith-Gobat hold the women's speed-record ascent of The Nose on El Capitan, 4 hours and 43 minutes.
The first ascent of Salathé Wall by Royal Robbins, Tom Frost, Chuck Pratt took six days in 1961. The wall is named to honor John Salathé, the pioneering Yosemite rock climber and blacksmith who invented the modern piton.