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Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Climb the Nose under 2 Hours!

“It’s the proudest speed climbing ascent to have happened in the history of U.S rock climbing.   I’m proud Jim Reynolds and I held the record for a bit of time but in all honesty our time is no where close to their time. The level of talent and confidence required to climb El Cap that fast is hard for me to grasp. Part of me would be excited to see someone try to break it, but deep down I hope no one tries.  At least not in my lifetime.”"  Brad Gobright

Instagram Photo: Austin Siadak

“We're totally over it.  Not trying again."   

IF IT'S TRUE, that every picture tells a story, then the shot of Alex Honnold, the world's greatest free soloist, gunning up the Nose with a terrifying amount of slack beneath him, dangling like a noose on the verge of snaring Tommy Caldwell, one of the greatest big wall free climbers of our time (Dawn Wall), then I don't know what does.  

When I heard that Honnold and Caldwell had teamed up, I knew we had the makings of a dream team.  Who could be better?  Other than maybe Adam Ondra and Alex Megos.   But even then, the likelihood of them breaking the record is extremely slim.  The Huber brother's tried.  Broke the record several times.  Described the experience as horrifying.   How the slightest mistake could lead to one's demise.  

Which is why this photo is so revealing.  Look at Honnold's rack, or should I say, the lack of it (see Instagram shot of Tommy below), compounded by the 30 yards of slack.  It takes no stretch of the imagination to realize that the only way to beat their sub-2 hour record, would be by free-soling it without a rope.  Sound crazy?   In many ways it is, but if you look at it from a different perspective, you will see why this has caught TripleBlack's attention.   This definitely meets the definition: When Severe Injury or Death can occur!

Just for the record, I'm not advocating that everyone should enter this race.  Far from it.  As I see it, this earth-shattering, record-breaking speed ascent of the Nose will have one out of two polar opposite affects.  It will either end the race with a huge exclamation point!  Because who in their right mind would attempt to break this record?   Or it will ignite a new generation of speed climbers from all over the world to see who can capture the illustrious crown.   With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, speed climbers like Reza Alipour (current record holder) from Iran, and Danyil Boldyrev from Ukraine, will undoubtedly be contenders.   But keep in mind, they have focused their attention on indoor climbing walls.  Not granite walls with over 3,000 vertical feet of technical climbing.    

As with Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds, who broke the record that was previously held by Honnold and Hans Florine last year (2:19:44), their ascent was marked with tragedy.  Read World's Most Dangerous Race - Part I.    Just days before their record breaking ascent, Quinn Brett took a 100' fall from Boot Flake (pitch 16) and slammed directly onto the Texas Flake.  If it wasn't for Josie McKee's heroic life saving efforts, most people agree, Quinn Brett would most likely not be alive today.   Although, she was left paralyzed from the waist down.    

This year, just days before Honnold's and Caldwell's sub 2 hour ascent, Tim Klein and Jason Wells, two highly accomplished big-wall speed climbers, who climbed The Nose twice in fewer than 22 hours, fell to their deaths while speed climbing a route on El Capitan known as Freeblast, According to witnesses, which included the third member of the team, Jordan Cannon (who was not injured), the two climbers were above him simul-climbing, when Wells fell more than a hundred feet, before pulling Klein off as well.   Roped together, 1,000' to the rock strewn ground.

"I'm going into it, with this idea, that this is super dangerous.  I could get severely hurt or killed doing it."

So the risk are real.  Just last month, on May 4th, the legendary Hans Florine, who's climbed the Nose more than anyone else (109 times), and has held the speed record on and off for the last two decades (his last record was with Alex Honnold), took a nasty fall while aiding up the Pancake Flake above the Great Roof, and slammed into Triangle Ledge, breaking his left ankle, and shattering his right heel.   Source: Rock & Ice.

Instagram Photo: Austin Siadak

"It was pretty scary because it was such a gargantuan fall," said photographer Austin Siadak, who has been shooting video of the team for a documentary.  "I saw him (Tommy Caldwell) hurtling upside down through the air and then bouncing on the end of the rope."


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Jim Reynolds

And according to Austin Siadak, a videographer documenting their ascent, Caldwell unexpectedly took a hundred foot fall.  See quote beneath Instagram photo.   Fortunately, he didn't hit anything.  But if he had, we might be having a different conversation.  

Which leads us to the final question: How fast can someone climb The Nose of El Capitan?   According to Alex Honnold, he believes it's humanly possible to climb the route in 1:30 or 1:15.   But he went on to say he has no intention of trying it again anytime soon.  So I guess we'll have to wait an see.  He said the same about Free Rider before free soloing it!


2018-06/06    Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell   Time: 1:58:07

2017-10/21     Jim Reynolds, Brad Gobright        Time: 2:19:44

2012-6/17       Hans Florine, Alex Honnold          Time: 2:23:46

2010-11/6       Dean Potter, Sean Leary                 Time: 2:36:45

2008-10/12    Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama         Time: 2:37:05

2008-7/2        Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama         Time: 2:43:33

2007-10/8      Alexander and Thomas Huber      Time:2:45:45

2007-10/4      Alexander and Thomas Huber      Time: 48:30

2002-9/29      Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama        Time: 2:48:55

2001-11            Dean Potter, Timmy O'Neill         Time: 3:24:20

2001-10           Hans Florine, Jim Herson             Time: 3:57:27

2001-10           Dean Potter, Timmy O'Neill          Time: 3:59:35

1992                 Hans Florine, Peter Croft               Time: 4:22

1991                 Peter Croft, Dave Schultz                Time: 4:48

1991                 Hans Florine, Andres Puhvel         Time: 6:01

1990                Peter Croft, Dave Schultz                Time: 6:40

1990                Hans Florine, Steve Schneider       Time: 8:06

1986                John Bachar, Peter Croft                  Time: 10:05

1975               Jim Bridwell, John Long, Billy Westbay Time: 14:55


Right on! Thanks for taking that leap of faith. If you have an idea or lead to a story, please send it our way. We want to be your News and Entertainment source for eXtreme Sports!

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