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Florine and Honnold set new speed record for climbing The Nose (El Capitan)

| June 18, 2012

Photo by Tom Evan from El Cap

If you were in Yosemite Valley yesterday morning just before 6AM you may have noticed the large crowds of onlookers staring up at El Capitan. What was all the fuss about? Two of the worlds greatest climbers, Hans Florine and Alex Honnold were attempting to set a new speed record for climbing The Nose of El Capitan.

History of the NoseThe Nose

Like much of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan was once thought to be unclimbable. Then in 1957, four climbers Warren Harding, Mark Powell and Bill “Dolt” Feuerer set out to tackle the 2900′ “nose” of El Capitan. Rather than follow the single-push “alpine” style used by Royal Robbins and his team on Half Dome, they chose to fix lines between “camps” in mountaineering style.

Compelled by the National Park Service to stop until after Labor Day due to the crowds forming in El Capitan meadows, the team had a major setback when Powell suffered a compound leg fracture on another climbing trip. Powell dropped out, and Feuerer became disillusioned. Harding, true to his legendary endurance and willingness to find new partners, “continued”, as he later put it, “with whatever ‘qualified’ climbers I could con into this rather unpromising venture.” Feuerer stayed on as technical advisor, even constructing a bicycle wheeled cart which could be hauled up to the half-way ledge which bears his name today, “Dolt Tower”; but Wayne Merry, George Whitmore, and Rich Calderwood now became the main team, with Merry sharing lead chores with Harding.

In the fall, two more pushes got them to the 2,000 feet (600 m) level. Finally, a fourth push starting in the late fall would likely be the last. The team had originally fixed their route with 1⁄2 inches (13 mm) manila lines, and their in situ lines would have weakened more over the winter. In the cooling November environment, they worked their way slowly upward, the seven days it took to push to within the last 300 feet (100 m) blurring into a “monotonous grind” if, Harding adds, “living and working 2,500 feet (800 m) above the ground on a granite face” could be considered monotonous.[4] After sitting out a storm for three days at this level, they hammered their way up the final portion. Harding struggled fifteen hours through the night, hand-placed 28 expansion bolts up an overhanging headwall before topping out at 6 AM. The complete climb had taken 45 days, with more than 3,400 feet (1,000 m) of climbing including huge pendulum swings across the face, the labor of hauling bags, and rappel descents.

The team had finished what is by any standard one of the classics of modern rock climbing. The Nose Route is often called the most famous rock climbing route in North America, and in good fall weather can have anywhere between three and ten different parties strung out along its thirty rope lengths to the top. On the 50th anniversary of the ascent, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring the achievement of the original party.(via WikiPedia)

Today The Nose is one of the most famous and often climbed routes on El Capitan seeing hundreds of climbers a year. The average climbing group takes 2-3 full days to complete the climb. Honnold and Florine completed yesterdays climb in just 2 hours 23 minutes 51 seconds, beating the old record by Dean Potter and Sean Leary set in 2010 by 13 minutes, a huge gap.

Great job guys!

Be sure to check out more great photos of the climb over on

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Category: Climbing

About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

Comments (2)

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  1. Andrys says:

    And then there’s the others too – the duo free climbing triple crown thing on the 18th of May and then Honnold’s new mostly free-solo w/free-climb at the end in a triple event in June.

    Bested his own free-solo record for Half Dome. That guy is incredible but I’m glad he used a protective rope for the May 18th “preparation” run with a partner and whatever for the latest with the impossible part at the end.