Free Ascent of Nubivagant (360 VR!)

[360 VR video—navigate using your mouse on the video itself!] In the summer of 2018, an American climbing team completed a free ascent of the Pico Cão Grande tower in São Tomé & Principe. The trip was documented through photos, video, and 360 degree footage filmed with GoPro Fusion cameras.

By Jacob Kupferman | July 23rd, 2019

The Climbing Objective


The climbing objective was to make the first free ascent of Nubivagant (Wandering in the Clouds), a 15 pitch, 455-meter route up Pico Cão Grande graded 5.13d A0.

Remy Franklin leading up the headwall of pitch 4 (5.13a) on Nubivagant. Photo: Jacob Kupferman.

Pico Cão Grande is a volcanic tower on the island nation of São Tomé & Principe. At the time of planning and organizing the trip, a free ascent of Nubivagant would have marked the first free ascent of the tower. However, just weeks before arriving on the island, a first free ascent of the route and the tower was made by Spanish climbers and brothers Iker and Eneko Pou. Shortly after the Spanish ascents of Pico Cão Grande, the American team of Sam Daulton, Remy Franklin, Tyler Rohr and Mike Swartz arrived on São Tomé, also hoping to free Nubivagant.


[Also Read First Ascent Of 450-meter 5.14 In Sao Tomé And Príncipe By Los Hermanos Pou]


Daulton and Franklin each freed every pitch, including a one-day onsight push from pitch five to the summit. All team members reached the summit, achieving the first American ascent of the formation.


Significance, History and Context of the Route


Nubivagant was established and bolted in June 2016 by Gareth Leah and Tiny Almada. Leah and Almada did not free the entire route: they summited the tower, Pico Cão Grande, but they fell on each of the three 5.13 crux pitches. The technical difficulty, length of the route, remote location, tropical climate and jungle setting make this climb an unparalleled challenge.


[Also Watch Weekend Whipper: Mike Libecki Takes A Jungle Grounder]


Prior to Leah and Almada summiting the tower in June 2016, there were two known ascents of the tower. The first was primarily via aid-climbing using ladders and hooks in 1975. The second was in February 1991 when Naotoshi Agata, Kenichi Moriyama and Yosuke Takahashi established an 18-pitch, 400-meter 5.10a A2 up the southeast buttress.


Team Members: Sam Daulton, Remy Franklin, Michael Swartz, Tyler Rohr

Filmed and Directed by: Jacob Kupferman

Produced by: Jack Daulton & Roz Ho

With Special Thanks to: The American Alpine Club, The North Face, Sterling Rope, Navetur Outfitters


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