Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell CUDL Up in Rocky Mountain National Park

Climbers Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell aren’t going to let a little thing like a global pandemic keep them from having an epic adventure. Recently, the dynamic duo—who have collaborated on projects in Yosemite and Patagonia—met up in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to put together an epic link-up that is on part with their other major climbs. In fact, this one just might be their hardest and most demanding adventure yet.

According to Alpinist, Honnold and Caldwell collaborated on a new project that they call the Continental Divide Ultimate Link-Up, or CUDL(pronounced “cuddle”) for short. The route actually links up 11 exciting climbing routes that includes 65 pitches ranging in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.11. Over the course of the expedition, they ended up reaching the summit of no less than 17 different peaks in about a day and  a half. Their trip report indicates they set out from a ranger station at 5:15 AM on Friday, July 17 and finished at 5:40 PM the following day.

As you would expect from these two, much of the climbing was done in a fast and light style, often without the use of ropes. They would usually assess the situation, decide their best approach, and make the decision on what equipment to use from there. That might mean free soloing an easier route or using ropes and protection on some of the more difficult pitches. Honnold and Caldwell said that this was the list of peaks and routes that they summited in the order that they bagged them:

Flying Buttress (III 5.9), Mt. Meeker (13,911′)
Casual Route (IV 5.10a), Longs Peak (14,255′)
Pagoda Mountain (13,497′)
The Barb (III 5.10b), Spearhead (12,575′)
Birds of Fire (IV 5.11a), Chiefs Head (13,579′)
Central Ramp (III 5.8), Mt. Alice (13,310′),
Arrowplane (III 5.11a) on Arrowhead (12,645′),
McHenrys Peak (13,327′)
Powell Peak (13,208′)
Taylor Peak (13,153′)
South Face (III 5.8), Petit Grepon (ca. 12,000′)
Southwest Corner (III 5.10a), the Saber (ca. 12,000′)
Northeast Ridge (II 5.6), Sharkstooth (12,630′)
Otis Peak (12,486′)
Culp-Bossier (III 5.8+), Hallett Peak (12,713′)
Flattop Mountain (12,324′)
Direct South Ridge (III 5.9), Notchtop Mountain (12,160′)

Following the expedition, both men are reported to be “slightly injured” having suffered some bruising and soreness from their efforts. That seems understandable considering the undertaking, which required a bit of a recovery period afterwards too. As for the name and pronunciation, apparently the boys had a hard time staying warm during their overnight in the mountains, so a bit of cuddling was involved. This helped to inspire the CUDL designation, which seems appropriate.

Congrats to these two amazing climbers. They never cease to inspire.

Kraig Becker