Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell Set New Speed Record on The Nose

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The ongoing battle t go ever-faster on the most iconic climbing route in the world was ratcheted up a notch yesterday when Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell set yet another speed record on The Nose in Yosemite. The 3000-foot (914-meter) route that runs up El Capitan was completed in a mind-blowing 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 15 seconds, shaving more than 9 minutes off the previous record set last fall by Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds.

Honnold and Caldwell, two of the fastest and strongest climbers of their generation, spent the past two weeks surveying the route and training for the attempt. The two men also asked Gobright and Reynolds for advice and consulted with Hans Florine, who has held the speed record multiple times in recent years. Those three men were on hand to see Honnold and Caldwell off, although Florine did so from a wheelchair as he recovers from a fall that took place a few weeks back.

Yesterday’s speed climb is in stark contrast to the first ascent of El Cap, which took place back in 1958. That historic event required 18 months of preparation with lots of ropes preinstalled prior to the start. Still, it took the small team of climbers 45 days to complete the climb. Even today, it typically takes regular climbers the better part of a day to make the ascent, with many spending the night on the wall to finish the next day. Honnold and Caldwell were able to finish in no time and all and didn’t even have to miss a meal.

Honnold has gone on record as saying that he thinks The Nose can be climbed in less than two hours, and while that will require an even quicker pace, that seems like the direction things are heading. The current crop of speed climbers aren’t beating each other by a minute or two, or even just a few seconds. Their taking large chunks of time off the previous record, which makes it seem like a two-hour climb is indeed possible.

Congrats to Alex and Tommy on a fantastic climb.

Kraig Becker