In August 2014, OR ambassador Nik Berry, along with Mason Earle and David Allfrey, finished the first ascent of Sendero Luminoso (V 5.13d) on Wyoming’s Mt. Hooker, an 1,800-foot big wall in the backcountry of the Wind River Range, Wyoming’s hardest alpine free climb. SparkShop Creative produced a video series about the climb for EpicTV, and we’re sharing two episodes here, with commentary from Nik Berry.

It was a pipe dream of mine to climb the whole route in a day. I knew there were many factors that would be against me and could eventually inhibit my success. The weather is notoriously bad at Mt. Hooker with many partial climbing days do to midday alpine thunderstorms. After days of rehearsing the pitches I decided I was ready and took one rest day then went to it! It was a very cold day with 40 mile an hour winds. It made the technical climbing very difficult due to numb feet and a stiff feeling body. Dave Allfrey and I swapped leads through the bottom five pitches then I took over. 

After taking a long break from the wind in our portaledge below the crux I cast off and felt very stiff but made it through the pitch. It was a huge relief and was very encouraging. My confidence skyrocketed and I fully believed I could climb the route. My arms began to cramp and I needed longer rests between pitches. The altitude made my breathing heavy and I felt deep fatigue. After shivering and cramping my way up the last pitch I thrutched for the final chicken head and yelled in relief! I was going to the top with only one 5.11 pitch and then 5.10 to the summit. I would say this day is the greatest climbing achievement for many reasons. The physical aspect is a major part of it, however, it was also a team effort which made the whole experience much richer. This route encompassed a large element of luck as well by finding the perfect line and how it offered an incredible path of holds to the summit. Sendero Luminoso means "shining path" and this line is truly that!