Jorg Verhoeven: Free Climbing the NoseBy Rock and Ice | September 23rd, 2015
Jorg Verhoeven became the fourth climber to free the Nose (VI 5.14a) in October of 2014—more than 20 years after Lynn Hill claimed the first ascent. Verhoeven discusses his experience with the logistical puzzle of big wall climbing and the sheer difficulty of some of El Capitan’s hardest free pitches—The Great Roof (5.13d) and Changing Corners (5.14a).
Lynn Hill was the first to free the Nose in 1993. However, in an interview with Rock and Ice (“What I’ve Learned,” August 2014), Hill explained that she “essentially had a top-rope” on the Changing Corners pitch in 1993 due to the way the free variation had been bolted. In 1994, Hill returned to the Valley and bested her previous style, climbing the Nose in a single day and re-climbing the crux Changing Corners pitch on lead.
Although Verhoeven’s ascent is now being considered the fourth, it’s worth mentioning that Scott Burk freed every pitch of the Nose in 1998. Burke put over 200 days of effort into the route, however, he top-roped the Great Roof pitch because it was wet on his final attempt. He never returned to climb the pitch on lead.