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Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell climbing their ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite on 30/05/2018, when they set a new speed record by racing up the iconic route in 2:10:15.
Photo by Samuel Crossley / Reel Rock
El Capitan with the routes West Face, Lurking Fear, Dihedral Wall, Excalibur, Muir Wall, Son of Heart, The Shield, The Salathé Wall, The Nose
Photo by Francesco Piardi

Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell break The Nose Speed record again

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Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell have broken the speed record on The Nose once again, climbing the iconic big wall on El Capitan Yosemite in 2:01:50. In other news, on 2 June the two well-known rock climbers Jason Wells and Tim Klein lost their lives on El Capitan.

"We feel like we could go faster." This was one of Alex Honnold's first comments last week after having set a new speed record on The Nose together with Tommy Caldwell. The Americans had just raced up the route in just 2:10:15, beating the previous record by almost ten minutes set last autumn by Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds. Honnold and Caldwell felt they hadn’t been as efficient as they might have been and evidently the thought of breaking the symbolic 2-hour barrier was playing on their minds.

Yesterday morning the duo embarked upwards once again and, according to rockandice.com, successfully shaved another 9 minutes off their record to stop the clock after 2:01:50. A mere two minutes are missing now to beat the 2-hour barrier and repeat the iconic big wall climb on El Capitan in Yosemite that, back in 1958, was famously first ascended by Warren Harding, Wayne Merry and George Whitmore over 47 days.

The new achievement comes at a time of great mourning for Yosemite and the climbing community in general, as early on 2 June, 45-year-old Jason Wells and 42-year-old Tim Klein lost their lives while climbing El Capitan. The two were extremely expert climbers. Klein, for example, had ascended The Nose more than 100 times in a day while in 2012 the duo had ascended The Nose and Salathé in 22 hours. At present the park rangers have not published an official report of the accident which is still pending investigation, but according to first accounts it seems as if the two were simul-climbing the lower section of the Salathé Wall when something went terribly wrong.

This loss highlights once again the risks, that all climbers are aware of, that climbers are exposed to when rock climbing in general and, in particular, when adopting speed climbing techniques. Three recent examples are worth highlighting: a few weeks ago during his attempts on The Nose, Caldwell himself fell about 100 feet but fortunately came to no harm; at the start of May the previous record holder Hans Florine broke both ankles during a one-day ascent of The Nose; as a result of a 100 foot fall during a one day ascent of The Nose in 2017 Quinn Brett remained paralysed from the waist down. These accidents underline the darker side of climbing at an ever faster pace; an aspect which those who choose this style of climbing must be (and generally are) entirely and consciously aware of.

The Nose Speed
Women
10/2014 - 5:02 Mayan Smith-Gobat & Libby Sauter
09/2013 - 5:39 Mayan Smith-Gobat & Libby Sauter 
09/2012 - 7:26 Mayan Smith-Gobat & Chantel Astorga
06/2012 - 10:19 Jes Meiris & Quinn Brett
09/2011 - 10:40 Libby Sauter & Chantel Astorga
2004 - 12:15 Heidi Wirtz & Vera Schulte-Pelkum
1993 - Lynn Hill, 23 hours. First free ascent in a single day

Men

06/2018 - 2:01:50 Tommy Caldwell & Alex Honnold
05/2018 - 2:10:15 Tommy Caldwell & Alex Honnold
10/2017 - 2:19:44 Brad Gobright & Jim Reynolds
06/2012 - 2:23:46 Hans Florine & Alex Honnold
11/2010 - 2:36:45 Dean Potter & Sean Leary
10/2008 - 2:37:05 Hans Florine & Yuji Hirayama
07/2008 - 2:43:33.Hans Florine & Yuji Hirayama
10/2007 - 2:45:45 Thomas Huber & Alexander Huber
09/2002 - 2:48:55 Hans Florine & Yuji Hirayama
2001 - 3:24:20 Dean Potter & Timmy O’Neill
1992 - 4:22 Hans Florine & Peter Croft
1991 - 4:48 Peter Croft & Dave Schultz
1991 - 6:01 Hans Florine & Andres Puhvel
1990 - 6:40 Peter Croft &Dave Schultz
1990 - 8:11 Hans Florine & Steve Schneider
1986 - 10:05 John Bachar & Peter Croft
1975 - 17:45 Jim Bridwell, John Long, Billy Westbay, first repeat in a day
1960 - 7 days, Royal Robbins, Joe Fitschen, Chuck Pratt e Tom Frost, first repeat
1958 - 47 days, Warren Harding, Wayne Merry e George Whitmore, first ascent


TOPO: The Nose, El Capitan, Yosemite

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