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Most Climbers Need 3 Days to Conquer This. These Guys, 2 Hours

Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell say they're never taking on record for El Capitan's 'Nose' again
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2018 10:40 AM CDT
Alex Honnold, top and Tommy Caldwell climb the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.   (Corey Rich/Reel Rock/Novus Select via AP)
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(Newser) – Most climbers take three days to scale the 3,000-foot Nose route of Yosemite's El Capitan, perhaps the most intimidating big-wall climbing route on the planet, so it was nothing short of incredible when a pair did it with a time of 2:19:44 last October. Sadly for Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds, that record has now been smashed. After scaling the monolith four days a week for three weeks, speed climbers Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell did the seemingly impossible Wednesday, clocking in a time of 1:58:07, reports Outside. They'd already broken Gobright and Reynolds' record twice, with times of 2:10:15 on May 30 and 2:01:50 on Monday. But the "sub-two" record was their goal, and Honnold's former climbing partner explains why: "It's like breaking the two-hour marathon barrier, but vertically," Hans Florine tells National Geographic.

Together with the now-retired Florine, Honnold had held the best time (2:23:46) in the Race for the Nose since 2012. "When Brad and Jim finally broke the record, it was open season again and time to give it a try," he says. Beginning training in May, Honnold and Caldwell carefully evaluated each climb, looking for opportunities to improve. The result was what a gracious-in-defeat Gobright calls "the proudest speed-climbing ascent to have happened in the history of US rock climbing," per Outside. Honnold predicts the record could last 10 to 15 years but believes it can be broken. As the record-setting run "didn't go perfectly"—the pair dropped gear and had to pass four other groups of climbers, he notes to National Geo—the route can likely be done in 1.5 hours or less, he says. But "we're totally over it," Honnold tells Outside. "Not trying again." (Two climbers just fell to their deaths from El Capitan.)

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