We’ve been trying to track down Mason Earle since late summer, but he’s been climbing. Climbing in Squamish. Climbing in the Winds. Climbing in Yosemite. Climbing in Zion. We did, however, quickly track down Kyle Berkompas, Mason’s current videographer, who sent us a gallery of Mason’s strong work putting up the first free ascent of a 5.13b route in Yosemite.The route was originally aided by Kevin Andrews and links a burly 5.12 b pitch with a 5.13b finger crack. Footage from the ascent was shot for the upcoming Chuck Fryberger Films video Exposure—Volume 1 and it received a write up in Rock and Ice, but we thought it deserved a bit more ink and a full photo gallery.
When we finally caught up with Earle after climbing season cooled down, he gave us the recap on the ascent. “The climb is on Schultz’s Ridge, a relatively small (for Yosemite) cliff of 600 feet that hosts a number of classic multi-pitch routes,” Earle says. “For a few years, I had heard about a potential project there. My good friend Mikey Schaefer was the first person to check the line out and climbed the first two pitches, which he named “The Dividing Line,” which went free at 5.13.”
“Off a tip from Mikey, I decided to check out the intimidating terrain above, and set off by myself, solo aid climbing up the cliff,” he continues. “The climbing up there was loco–like nothing I have climbed in Yosemite. Steep, three-dimensional movement, with heart-stopping exposure.”
After a couple weeks of work, Earle was primed to make a redpoint ascent of the route, but 100-degree temperatures conspired against the effort. Two weeks later he decided to give it a go, even in the extreme summer temperatures.
“Somehow I managed to hold on through the apocalyptic heat, and though my muscles felt as strong as overcooked noodles, I climbed with only one fall to the top just as it got dark,” he summarizes. “It’s great to be able to make a small contribution to the climbing in Yosemite, and I can’t wait to see what the second ascensionist has to say about the climbing.” —LYA Editor
Images and Captions by Kyle Berkompas
Top: The second pitch of the route goes at 13b and has one of the sharpest finger locks imaginable.
Above: Mason hikes past the base of Mt. Broderick on his way up to yet another FFA.
L to R: 1. Mason finds a key jug on the first pitch of the 5.13b route. 2. One desperate move for the finishing hold marks the completion of the first pitch. 3. Mason plugs a nut into the second pitch, a 5.13b finger crack first put up by Mikey Schaefer.
Top: Mason bears down on the crux second pitch, a 5.13b finger crack.
L to R: 1. Earle finds the best finger lock on the second pitch 2. Mason prepares for the “pencil sharpener hold” just above him. 3. Mason cringes as he slides into the “pencil sharpener” on the crux second pitch.
Top: Getting a good stance on the third pitch, Mason susses out the next few moves.
L to R: 1. The fourth pitch of the route is a 5.12c traverse leading up to a crux mantle finish.2. Earle demonstrates some innovative jamming techniques on the fifth pitch. 3. Despite popping his hamstring just moments before, Mason manages to stick a crux move on the final pitch.
Above: Mason is ecstatic about his new 5.13b FFA in the Valley.
Above: Mason effortlessly plucks away on his banjo, performing Bach in El Cap Meadow, one of his many hidden talents.
Check out the full resume of seasonal accomplishment from Mason in Exposure, Volume 1 here.
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