BD athletes Sonnie Trotter and Alex Honnold make one-day ascent of 28-pitch 5.13a in Mexico
Black Diamond athletes Sonnie Trotter and Alex Honnold can climb 5.13. That wasn’t going to be the issue. Climb a 28-pitch 5.13 in Mexico in a day? Now that was going to be a challenge, even for those two crankers. As with any good adventure, however, the true challenges didn’t present themselves until the trip began—just finding the wall turned out to be an epic, friable holds botched their onsight bid and the sketch-op they found at the base would’ve sent most people sprinting back across the border.
But the duo stuck with it and came back with a fantastic tale, which we’ve chosen to highlight in our Fall 2010 Rock Climbing brochure. Why? Because after more than 25 years of making the world’s finest climbing equipment, we still get stoked on the stories of climbers using our harnesses, carabiners, quickdraws, packs and other gear to quest off on adventures and challenges—like Alex and Sonnie’s Mexi mission—that would crush other climbing companies’ gear. It’s a point of pride for us that they have chosen our equipment, and one that continues to drive us to innovate, design and improve everything you need for a wild ride in the vertical, be it a four-move boulder problem, a four-pitch trad line or a four-day big wall.
Below is Sonnie’s essay about the climb, as well as photos from Andrew Burr (who was along to do the driving and documenting). In the coming days we will also have a four-part video of Sonnie and Alex’s adventure that is sure to inspire—and entertain—so be sure to keep checking back into the Journal for more.
To order a copy of our Fall 2010 Rock Climbing brochure, email our customer service crew at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll ship you out a fresh one.
To watch Sonnie and Alex's video dispatches from Mexico, click the links below:
High Times In Mexico
By Sonnie Trotter
At 3:30 a.m., deep in the chaotic canyons of Mexico’s Basaseachi National Park, the three of us hunched and crept across the rocky hillside under the glow of a full moon. Every step had to be precise, every breath utterly silent. A campfire burned less than 50 meters below us where a group of “plantation caretakers” guarded their covert grow-op of two freshly fertilized fields at the base of the wall.
It wasn’t more than a week ago that I was sitting in front of my laptop in Squamish, British Columbia, trading emails with my two current compadres, Alex Honnold and Andrew Burr, about whether we would/could/should venture to go climbing here, a lawless land in the heart of Mexico’s drug trade. For all reasonable and practical purposes, we shouldn’t have gone; we shouldn’t be here right now, silently crawling through the jungle. I looked up to my left and saw the bulky face of El Gigante glaring down at me, all 2700 feet of it, and the thought of turning around and going home seemed empty and incomplete.
This would be our second shot at Logical Progression, a 28-pitch 5.13a that’s considered to be the longest sport climb in the world. Our first attempt was hampered by a combination of technical climbing on complex volcanic tuff and a few broken holds, forcing us to bivy on “Critter Ledge” atop pitch 18 before finishing the following day. Alex and I had originally envisioned free climbing the entire wall in a single day, and after nearly 30 hours of driving from Las Vegas, anything less would be unacceptable. With closed mouths and heightened senses, we scampered on in the darkness.
Upon reaching the base of the wall, we used our headlamps only to get our bearings. As I chalked up and tightened my shoes, Alex whispered over my shoulder, “Dude, when you get to the anchor don’t yell down… just pull the rope up. I’ll wait 30 seconds before climbing… with any luck we can get a few pitches off the deck before they notice us.” Burr was our support team and photographer (it was as much his energy and motivation as it was our own that allowed us to succeed) and from here he would take our shoes, packs, and extra clothes and march them to the top of the wall to meet us, hopefully within the ballpark of our estimated time of 18 hours. But this also meant that Burr had to walk back… by himself… in the dark…. above the guards and their drug fields.
I gave the highest of high fives to Burr before he escaped into the black night, and then turned to face the rock, took a fresh breath of early morning air and stepped off the ground…
Sonnie Trotter and Alex Honnold reached the summit of El Gigante in 15 hours, with both climbers redpointing every pitch, making the first continuous free ascent, and the first in-a-day ascent of Logical Progression (V 5.13a).