When Miška Izakovičová first visited Yosemite in 2012 she’d been climbing for just 2 years. She arrived in the Valley a relative beginner who’d never placed her own gear or climbed cracks, let alone been big walling. The steepest of learning curves followed for both Miška and her partner Ivo. A year later they returned, still relatively inexperienced but determined to begin the long process of climbing Freerider, the ‘easiest’ of El Caps free routes but well beyond the reach of most talented and experienced climbers. This time they made it to the top with a mixture of free and aid climbing and the distant possibility of a clean ascent began to emerge. What had begun as Ivo’s distant pipe dream rapidly turned into an obsession for them both.
Miška and Ivo arrived back in Yosemite this September, almost exactly 6 years on from their first visit – now with a wealth of climbing behind them. By now they had 5 seasons on El Cap and months spent learning the intricacies of the Valley’s walls. After the crowds and heat of 2017 they were greeted by a deserted Freerider and perfect climbing conditions. All the preparation, training and single minded focus came down to a week of effort.
Words by Miška Izakovičová
“We all have our dreams, things that motivate us to work hard and get better to achieve our goals. I was always motivated to climb hard, but I’d never thought that I will be the person who would like big wall climbing. I’d never thought that I will like to stay on the wall for more days, climb as hard as ever, haul heavy loads, eat dried food and sleep on the ledges. The thing is that I totally love it and I could imagine doing it all the time.”
Six years after our first trip to Yosemite and after multiple tries we finally sent our lifetime project, Freerider 5.13a on El Capitan.
We both freeclimbed every single pitch (leader and second) and we both sent the hardest pitch “The Boulder Problem” on lead. On other pitches we were switching leads according to actual circumstances, power and skin. Besides the Boulder Problem, we also had to work on the Endurance Corner pitch (5.12a/5.12b). At this point we were already really tired, we did not have much skin left and we were low on food and water so we decided to try to climb these two pitches only with preplaced gear.
We had planned the 7 day long groundup push, but we stayed on the wall one night longer. We just finished the last pitch of the headwall at last light and were too tired to climb the last three pitches of the route in the dark, even though we did not have much food and water we really enjoyed the last evening on the wall, we knew the hard climbing was behind us.
It was an amazing experience, particularly sending every pitch on the headwall on day 7, it was very emotional as we got so close to finally climbing the route we’d been dreaming about for so long.