Will Stanhope Repeats The Prophet

Will Stanhope on his 4th ascent of The Prophet, a route on El Cap best known for its stunning “A1 Beauty” crux pitch:

I didn’t sleep much that night, instead just blinking at the stars from the portaledge, enjoying being up there.  I felt enormously grateful for all my friends that helped me along the way.  Leo Houlding and Jason Pickles, for the inspiration in the first place.  If it wasn’t for those two brits, the Prophet wouldn’t exist.  And Sonnie Trotter, for ropegunning the route last year.  He took the leads when I was having serious doubts, terrified of re-breaking my foot.  He never made me feel guilty about anything, instead he just gently took over the sharp-end, and showed me how it was done.  The night seemed to drag on forever, but I was ecstatic, savoring every minute of darkness, high on the wall.

I don’t know much about big wall free climbing, but it is a bit confusing how Stanhope and 3rd ascenionist Nik Berry can take a variation around one of the crux pitches and still have repeated the same climb that Leo Houlding established.  I’m inclined to take their word for it since they climb rad shit and I don’t, but it’s just something that crossed my mind as I read both their reports.

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10 Responses to Will Stanhope Repeats The Prophet

  1. Adam November 19, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    To put it in perspective… if you climbed a route using a static variation whereas the FA used a crazy dyno, but you otherwise climbed the exact same route, would you consider it a repeat or no? They climbed around an 8 foot lateral dyno. Perhaps the dyno was ‘forced’? :)

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    • Adam November 19, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      One move on a 1000′ cliff represents what, 0.002% of the climb?

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    • Narc November 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      Sure, that makes sense.

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  2. Morgan November 19, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    This question reminds me of the es pontas argument.

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    • Kevin November 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      I’m curious, what es pontas argument?

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      • MMMMMMMM November 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

        I think the idea was that you can climb around the dyno on es pontas on a much easier sequence. Might as well walk up the other side and say you’ve done it

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        • Morgan November 22, 2012 at 8:49 am #

          Exactly

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        • Fontastic November 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

          When talking to Chris, as he put it, sure, some people might find the small edges and crimps easier than a nine foot dyno, but for me (him), the dyno was much easier, despite his failure rate.

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  3. Max November 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Probably worth mentioning that Stanhope had done the 8′ sideways dyno on earlier attempts, but appears to have ultimately decided that the climbaround was the higher percentage approach to that pitch. Even sport climbs evolve in this way, with small variations that become the preferred beta over time, and people rarely seem to suggest they amount to a new route. On big walls, the likelihood of this happening is exponentially greater.

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  4. Neil November 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Since the route’s grade ends up being the grade of the hardest pitch of the climb, I think without doing the crux move of the crux pitch makes it not a second ascent of The Prophet, but a first accent of a variation of The Prophet. This happens in bouldering all the time (mandala, mandala sit, mandala direct…), why not multi-pitch?

    Either way, mad props. Such a hard pitch at the end of a climb like that is pretty legendary, imo.

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