Heavy Emotions: Jordan Cannon and Golden Gate in a Day
November 18, Yosemite West, California. It's raining hard in Yosemite Valley today, sending visitors to hotter, drier climates. But not Jordan Cannon, the 26-year-old professional climber based in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Who is doing a "day of work" today, as he tells various media sources about his free ascent of the Golden Gate on November […]

November 18, Yosemite West, California. It's raining hard in Yosemite Valley today, sending visitors to hotter, drier climates. But not Jordan Cannon, the 26-year-old professional climber based in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Who is doing a "day of work" today, as he tells various media sources about his free ascent of the Golden Gate on November 16.

“I'll give you a different version than I tell others,” he said as he was parked across the street from his friend Max Buschini's house in a private residential area of ​​the park. Wrapped up in a puff and sitting in the front seat of his converted van - and occasionally in tears - he tells me why this climb was important to him.

First, he shared the technical details of the route and how he pulled off his second attempt in a day, and what strategies he gleaned from Emily Harrington. make the headlines on November 4 one-day climb of the Golden Gate. With me, he shared how they became friends, bonded and worked together on the course in different sections, and how she inspired him to climb the Golden Gate for free in one day.

Cannon high on the Golden Gate
Cannon at the start of Golden Desert 5.13a. Photo: Mark Hudon

But Cannon was just warming up, during the final hour of our call - where he spoke as a member of the Yosemite Climbing Tribe to another - he shared the meat of the story and what made his ascent the most important, personally, of his ascent. career.

Over three days in October 2000, Alex and Thomas Huber made the first free ascent of 37-pitch, 5.13a Golden Gate. Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Brad Gobright and Jordan Cannon once did free climbs of the Golden Gate; The ascent of Harrington in November of this year remains the only female climb (in one day).

Starting to break up a bit, Cannon referred to the moment that gave him PTSD. In June 2018, on his first attempt to clear the road, he saw two climbers pass him on the Freeblast section (the first 1000 feet) of the Golden Gate, then fall to their death. He thinks about that day and what he has witnessed each time he climbs that section of the road.

He tells me about his admiration and friendship for the late Brad Gobright and how, for years, he kept a photo of Gobright climbing the A5 Traverse as a wallpaper on his phone. “It was from his first attempt to liberate Golden Gate in a day. He inspired me by the efforts he made.

“This one's for Brad. I want him to be proud, ”Cannon said, choking.

Last year, while Cannon, 26, was working on his one-day Freerider climb, he saw Harrington do the same on the nearby Golden Gate road. “Back then, I couldn't imagine doing anything harder than freeriding,” he says. “I was going for the easier route, and she was going for the harder route. After Freerider (in 14.5 hours with the support of Mark Hudon) I realized that it was not as difficult as I expected. Watching Emily on Golden Gate really turned me on. It looked awesome.

In 2018, Jordan climbed the Golden Gate for six days, but he couldn't freely climb the A5 Traverse. He also took a bad fall on Razor Blade's 5.11 second pitch, loose. A crumbly section of the snowflake shattered, sending it plunging towards the anchor, which it struck face first. The impact shattered his glasses and bloodied his face. He was so traumatized by the fall that when he reached the final height he had a complete collapse and could not extricate himself for free or in help. Finally, he reached the top, exhausted.

A year later he returned to the road with Mark Hudon and climbed everything for free for four days.

hanging out under Emily Harrington's portaledge
Take refuge under Emily Harrington's portal. Photo: Jordan Cannon

Halloween party 2020

Cannon returned to Golden Gate on the last day of October to make his ascension that day. Partnering with Alex Honnold for Freeblast, the two left at 1:30 a.m. Mark with whom he shares screen time in the film Free as possible, supported Jordan for the remainder of the climb.

“Everything was going perfectly. I got to Tower to the People in 12 hours. There are only 7 locations at the top from there. I hadn't fallen once. Then came 5.13a Golden Desert, which he attempted in stifling conditions. The afternoon sun bakes the upper part of the wall, turns it into a solar oven, and makes the sharp edges unsafe and slippery. Here “I almost made my way, but I came across the last movement of the crux. Then things fell apart.

He fell four times in a row on the thin golden desert before resting for a few hours. He sent it on on his fifth attempt, but now he was too weak in his de-energized state to send the last crucial point, the A5 Traverse. Here he fell on his first attempt. He tried again only to collapse on the rope early on the court. Exhausted, he climbed fixed ropes to the top.

“I had fucking worked, Chris,” he told me. “I couldn't close my hands for three days. I was hanging out like an old man. I had never been so downcast.

“I didn't even think about going back yet. I knew it was Emily's turn.

After his successful climb and knowing how vital the climb was for Jordan, Emily helped him rework the upper knots so he had him dialed for his next attempt in the day. But she didn't have much time left for her visit and after a day spent on the wall with him, she had to leave.

With Honnold busy and Mark out of the Valley for the season, Jordan needed a new partner. “Then I found Josh McClure,” he says of the longtime guide from Yosemite Mountain School now residing in Bishop, California. To prepare for Jordan's ascension, the pair hit the entire Golden Gate route, where they worked the crucial points together - Josh aims to make the line - plus hidden food and water.

Sending (20:26)

Starting at midnight on November 16, the two climbed the wall, making them 20 locations in five and a half hours. To move quickly, they simulated the first half of the course. At pitch 22, the road cuts down and to the right via a 5.13a section that Cannon obtained on his second attempt.

From there, they continued to Tower to the People (seven paces from the top) without incident, where Jordan took a 5-hour nap on a ledge. Here, he borrowed Emily's portaledge, which he used as a sun shade.

cannon showing its time
Cannon showing its time. Photo: Josh McClure

“Photographer Max Buschini, Josh McClure, and I spent those five hours resting, eating Starbursts, drinking water and watching The Office on my iPhone.”

Sufficiently rested, Cannon set off on the A5 Traverse at dusk, where "I climbed it to the best of my ability." Three hours later, he reached the top.

Overwhelmed with emotion, he sums up what climbing without a large wall means to him. “It's the learning, the growth and the friendships that make it meaningful. That's what inspires me to go there year after year.


Rock climbing is everywhere these days. From the Dawn Wall to your Instagram feed to the new gym going up in town, climbing is no longer the fringe sport it once was. Kids are starting to climb almost before they can walk, and now more than ever, there’s no reason for you not to give it a try as well. However, climbing can be one of those intimidating hobbies to begin. Many ask, “How do I get started ? ” citing fear and feeling overwhelmed with gear and safety as huge barriers to entry. We get it, and so what follows is everything you need to know to get out on the rock.

The term “rock climbing” encompasses a great number of disciplines, from bouldering to big wall climbing, to mountain climbing and mountaineering. Before you begin, it might be important to first identify what style of climbing you are interested in, or perhaps to ask, “Why do I want to climb ? ” Do you want to summit peaks, boulder at your local gym, or perhaps learn to lead climb at the local crag ? Do you want to make friends, be outdoors, or get in shape ( or all three ) ? Once these questions are answered, you can work out the potential steps you’ll need to take to get there. Below ( in the Sport vs. trad vs. bouldering section ) we attempt to inform this decision by breaking down the various genres of climbing; each has its own specific culture, gear, and learning curve.

Climbing is a complex sport : it’s potentially expensive to get into, difficult to find mentors, and can be dangerous if not done correctly. With the evolution of climbing gyms, however, it’s easier than ever to give climbing a try : just grab a friend and head to the nearest gym, rent a pair of shoes and a harness, and jump on the bouldering wall. However, if and when your progression leads you to climbing on ropes and outside, technical skills become essential to safety. Many choose to learn from friends; however, safety is so important that we recommend enrolling in a formal chic. The easiest and best way to learn the essential skills, which include belaying and tying proper knots, is by taking an introductory course at your local gym. Or, if you’re interested in climbing outside or even more specifically climbing in the mountains, seek out a class either through your gym or a local guide.

The first indoor climbing gym opened in Seattle in 1987. Now just 30 years later, there are 430 gyms across the nation, with over 50 more in construction at the time of writing. Areas like the Denver metropolis have as many as 10 gyms, all stuffed to capacity each day. Whereas climbers used to be a tiny community of mostly adult men with access to the wilderness, the climbing gym revolution has brought climbing to the masses. It’s safe to say that more people now climb indoors than outdoors. The climbing gym has developed its own culture, and climbing inside - “pulling on plastic, ” as climbers often say - is vastly different from climbing outdoors. It is arguably safer, much more convenient to access, and far more social; for these reasons, the gym is an super place to begin climbing. Gym passes cost anywhere from $6 to $30/day, with monthly memberships being the best option for those who go regularly. Outdoor climbing takes place on boulders, on cliff bands, and in mountains - anywhere where there is solid rock, climbers can be found. Some of the most popular variétés of rock to climb include granite, sandstone, limestone, basalt, and conglomerate blends. Each of these kinds of rock'n'roll has its own style of climbing, from overhanging jugs much like gym climbs, to technical slabs, to splitter cracks. Climbing outdoors demands a higher level of expertise than climbing in the gym, as there are more variables and dangers on real rock'n'roll. Weather can be a factor, as well as rock'n'roll fall. Climbers will also need to possess a great deal more gear to climb outside, including their own rope and harness, quickdraws or other protection, a personal anchor and locking carabiner, and a helmet. Although many climbers begin in the gym, some learn to climb immediately outside, most commonly with the help of a guide or an instructional course.

Rock climbing is generally broken down into three categories : sport climbing, traditional ( trad ) climbing, and bouldering. Climbers tend to specialize in or prefer one discipline over the others, though many climbers participate in all three. Sport climbing is a style of climbing where the leader attaches quickdraws to pre-existing bolts, looping the rope through the quickdraws for protection while ascending the cliff. Sport climbs are often one-pitch climbs where the leader then comes back to the ground after fixing the rope to the anchor, though in some cases these climbs might continue up larger faces for multiple pitches. As a discipline, sport climbing focuses on difficult movement, endurance, learning to face fears, and risking a fall ( and being caught by the rope, évidemment ! ). Trad climbing is the most rootsy and historical form of climbing, in which the leader climbs weaknesses in the rock ( generally, cracks ) and places gear in these weaknesses that will hold the rope in the case of a fall. Although trad climbs can be single-pitch routes like the majority of sport climbs, they often ascend features that are more than one rope length and end at a summit ( these are called “multi-pitch climbs” ). Trad climbers generally love long and adventurous days of climbing in wilderness areas, focusing on movement, logistics, technical rope and gear skills, and partnership. Bouldering is perhaps the most modern form of climbing, and certainly the fastest-growing. Boulderers ascend boulders or short cliffs ( generally 20 feet and under ), using pads and spotters at the base for protection instead of ropes. Bouldering is a form of climbing that focuses on difficult movement and problem solving, and is more social than the other disciplines. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few other forms of climbing : aid climbing, alpine rock'n'roll climbing, speed climbing, and deep water soloing. Pick your poison ( or shall we say passion ) : each has its own set of joys and challenges !

One of the first things you’ll learn when starting to climb is how to choose a route that suits your ability level. In the gym, climbs generally are labeled with a difficulty rating; outside, climbers use guidebooks and often a phone app called Mountain Project to identify the difficulty of climbs. In the U. S., climbs are rated using the Yosemite Decimal System; in bermuda, 5. 3 is a very beginner climb, and 5. 15 is an expert-level route. These ratings do not denote danger, only difficulty. As a beginner, you’ll most likely be choosing routes 5. 7 and under, and often routes that can be top-roped. Top-roping means that the climber establishes an anchor from the top of the climb so that the rope is already in place, rather than leading the route from the bottom. Many routes in the gym are set up with top ropes; outside, climbers can often hike to the top of the cliff or feature to drop a rope down over the climb.

Each discipline of climbing necessitates a different set of gear. For all variétés of climbing, however, a beginner will need a pair of climbing shoes. For just starting out in the sport, we recommend finding a comfortable pair of climbing shoes ( don’t be persuaded by the salesperson at your local gear shop to purchase painfully tight shoes ). Delicate footwork will come later in your climbing career; for now you will just be developing an ability to stand on your feet and trust the rubber of your new shoes. All climbers will generally want to carry a chalk bag and chalk as well, which they will either wear around their waist or keep on the ground ( sometimes the case while bouldering ). Climbers dip their hands into chalk to dry off sweat and keep them from slipping off the rock. Boulderers will need the above two pieces of gear, in addition to a bouldering pad ( and friends with bouldering pads ! ). Bouldering pads are placed in the fall zone of a boulder problem, and the more the merrier ( and safer ! ). to climb on ropes both in a gym or outside, climbers will need a climbing harness. Climbing harnesses come in a range of weights and specifications - some for sport climbing in particular, some with larger gear loops or more padding for trad climbing. Harnesses need to be replaced every few years for safety reasons, so we again recommend purchasing an affordable harness and replacing it when you have a better understanding of your needs. Along with a climbing harness, it is essential to own a belay device and locking carabiner. This equipment will enable you to belay your partner in the gym or outside, and rappel if needed. If climbing outside, a helmet is extremely important in case of rock'n'roll fall. The above-mentioned gear provides the basics for personal gear needed for a day of climbing or bouldering, either in the gym or with an experienced and well-equipped partner. If you are looking to buy gear so that you can be fully self-sufficient ( and not need a partner or a group with shared gear ) you’ll want to also purchase a climbing-specific rope ( 60-70 meters, 9-10mm in diameter, dynamic ), a personal anchor ( PAC ) or daisy chain, extra locking carabiners, cams, nuts, quickdraws, and slings. It is extremely important to buy new gear or to know the history and age of the gear if acquiring used. Both soft materials and metals degrade over time and with wear and should be carefully assessed before using.

We wholeheartedly recommend taking a course taught by professionals before attempting to climb or belay on your own. Climbing is inherently dangerous, though when done correctly can be very safe. After all of the proper skills have been learned, it is still incredibly important to stay on top of safety at every moment. Before leaving the ground, or transitioning from climbing to lowering/rappelling, there are a number of safety checks that must be completed.

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