Although Hill's achievement on The Nose and yours on Freerider are similar is some aspects, there is at least one very big difference - Lynn prepared to climb the route in one day after climbing it free and for her it was a separate aim for the next season. In your case it hadn't been planned before. It can be considered as the best proof that it wasn't really close to your limit. Heinz, who could see you during the ascent, was also of that opinion. What do you feel?
For me, climbing is so emotional, and motivation is a much bigger force than the physical [aspect]. It's hard for me to measure limits. Also, I usually get all of my motivation from within and I spend so much time alone when I am climbing. When Heinz gave me such powerful encouragement, it was like an amazing energy source for me, and it really pushed me. That was really special for me, and I will always be grateful to him for that support.
How would you compare the experience of doing a route like Inshallah on Shipton and doing a free climb on El Capitan? Is such a comparison possible?
It is impossible to compare these experiences. On Shipton, there were so many elements going on, the travel across the Karakoram, all of the uncertainties of a new line on a little known peak (at that time it was very obscure, we were only the third party to climb it). We found that it was really difficult to free climb at such high altitudes, along with all of the work of being on a wall, and melting water etc. On the other hand, I was with two partners, and I could share the work and lean on them. With Freerider, it was just me making it all happen. So both things were really amazing, and different.
As Freerider is the easiest free climb on El Cap, many climbers, also a few Polish ones, can think about it as the first step in climbing long hard free routes in the Valley. But I guess that to a European climber, usually less experienced in crack climbing, it can be a really merciless route. And the nominally less difficult pitches - especially off-widths - can turn out to be the most difficult ones. Do you agree?
Freerider is a funny climb. When you look at the topo, it seems like it could be an "easy" route. However, one of the most difficult pitches for me was an off-width towards the top which is rated 5.10. All those pitches of 5.11 and 5.12 are really demanding, despite the idea that those numbers should be "easy." A lot of people say they will do Freerider, but in fact it has not had very many free ascents yet, and only the Hubers, Dean and I have freed it in one day.
You did the route in the style which the Huber brothers called "individual redpoint ascent" - leading all the pitches by yourself. I know that for you it was the only way to do it. Doing the climb with e.g. Dean leading some pitches, would't be the challange at all. Do you ever accept "team free-ascent" (when the pitches of a climb are shared by the members of a team), or do you completely discredit it in free climbing?
I have done routes in every possible style, and for me that is part of the beauty of climbing. I did Freerider alone mostly because I didn't have a partner for the route.
You wrote that two years ago you had decided to "halt your travels and really work on free climbing again". What are your plans for the nearest future? Will you try to go on concentrating on free climbing, or maybe will you try to do it the way e.g. the Huber brothers do - taking on the challenge to do difficult things in the mountains, and at the same time (I mean in the same season) excelling at free climbing?
As always, I like to switch my focus. For me, that is the most interesting thing in climbing, never staying in one category. Having made this achievement in the Valley, my thoughts are turning towards other goals again. I am dreaming of the mountains again!