Alex Waterhouse and Billy Ridal have free-climbed The Nose 5.14a on Yosemite’s El Capitan, they’re the first British team to do so. Both led and freed the Great Roof and Changing Corners pitches. The first British climbers to climb The Nose were Rob Wood and Mick Burke in 1968.
“After retiring from comps at the beginning of the year, we set this goal and knew it was audacious,” Waterhouse and Ridal said on Instagram. “With no big-walling experience and honestly no idea what it would take, we (and I’m sure many others) weren’t sure it was possible. But we planned, trained, learnt and grafted every day for 5 weeks here in the Valley with that single mission in mind. We left for the push having not linked the crux pitches, sat in a puddle for 2 days through a storm and somehow left with the fairytale ending.”
The first ascent of The Nose was in 1958 after 47 days of effort by Wayne Merry, Warren Harding and George Whitmore, with various partners. In 1993, Lynn Hill nearly freed it, making it past the Great Roof and to Camp VI, but fell at the Changing Corners because a piton was jammed in a critical finger crack. She removed it and then climbed it from the ground to the top in four days. She returned the next year and freed it in just 23 hours.
On Oct. 14 2005, Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden spent four days swapping lead. Two days later, Caldwell returned and climbed it all free in less than 12 hours. In 2014, Jorg Verhoeven spent three days freeing The Nose. In 2018, Keita Kurakami became the first climber to rope-solo free The Nose. Shortly after Kurakami’s ascent, Connor Herson became the youngest climber to free The Nose at 15. In 2019, Seb Berthe freed The Nose after eight days; then Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher freed it a few days later.
The Nose Free
1993: Lynn Hill
1994: Lynn Hill
2005: Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell
2005: Tommy Caldwell
2014: Jorg Verhoeven
2018: Keita Kurakami
2018: Connor Herson
2019: Seb Berthe
2019: Babsi Zangerl
2019: Jacopo Larcher
2023 Alex Waterhouse, Billy Ridal
Lynn Hill on The Nose