Colin Haley Sets New Speed Record on Denali’s Cassin Ridge

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Rock climber and mountaineer Colin Haley has set a new speed record on one of the most iconic routes on Denali, making a solo summit of the mountain at the same time. According to Rock & Ice, Haley managed to climb the difficult and demanding Cassin Ridge in 8 hours and 7 minutes, besting the old record – held by Jon Griffith and Will Sim – by more than 6.5 hours. That’s an incredible time when you consider he was climbing alone.

The history of climbing the Cassin Ridge is long and storied. The route was first completed back in 1961 and repeated again in 1967. The first solo ascent came in 1976 and was completed in 36 hours. In 1991 American climber Mugs Stump set a speed record of 15 hours, which stood until Griffith and Sim lowered the time back in 2011. The fact that Haley was able to crush their time shows you how far climbing techniques, training, gear, and athleticism have come.

Haley himself has always had a fascination with climbing Denali, with a good dose of inspiration coming from Stump. As Rock & Ice tells it, Colin skipped his high school graduation back in 2003 to go climb the mountain instead. He has since reached its summit 16 times and counting. That included previous attempts on the speed record, which were thwarted by the mountain’s notoriously bad weather and deep snow.

This year, in preparation to have another go at that record, he decided to go extremely light. His equipment list included a set of ice tools, monopoint crampons, a helmet, collapsible ski poles, 3.5 liters of water, 13 energy gels, two energy bars, two pairs of gloves, an extra set of puffy pants and jacket, and his music player. Haley didn’t take any rope, harness, or protection. The plan was to free solo everything along the way. Apparently, the plan worked to perfection and the weather was in his favor too, as he didn’t just beat the speed record, he destroyed it.

To find out more about this epic climb, check out the full story and Rock & Ice.

Kraig Becker