North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Nose, Speed Record

Publication Year: 2002.

El Capitan, Nose, speed record. On October 15 Dean Potter and I went sub-four hours on El Cap’s 3,000-foot Nose, cleaving 23 minutes off the record of 4:22, set nearly a decade ago by Peter Croft and Hans Florine. This was our fourth ascent of the route together but our first time climbing it in daylight. We alternately led, in four leader blocks. With me taking the first block and Potter simulclimbing behind, we reached Sickle Ledge in less than 20 minutes. We switched leads for pitch six, above Sickle Ledge, and Potter swung into the Stoveleg Cracks. I lowered out with a 5-millimeter cord, and we simulclimbed through the Stovelegs. We had cut a 140-foot 10-mm rope specifically for the ascent. Potter rope-soloed the Boot, pitch 17, which marked the end of his block, as I simul climbed up the bolts below and waited until he pendulumed across the King Swing, snagging it first try. I then blasted toward Camp IV, short-fixing the rope at the end of the Lynn Hill traverse. Potter lowered out with the 5-mil, jumared the fixed line, popped the knots at the belay, and joined me as I wove my way through Camp IV to the Great Roof. As I jumped onto my trusty cam hooks at the apex of the arching roof, Potter slammed in a nest of camming units and hung tight till the rope was fixed and he could lower out. We simulclimbed through Camp V, using direct aid when necessary, and switched leads at the top of the Glowering Spot, pitch 26. Potter took us to the summit, short-fixing the majority of the upper pitches, with me jumaring maniacally behind. We simulaided out the headwall bolt ladder and tagged the top-out pine tree in 3:59:35. Haggard but grinning we had broken the greatest of the rad-dad, old-school speed records on El Capitan.

Two weeks later, on October 28, Hans Florine teamed with Jim Herson and took an additional two minutes off the record, coming in at 3:57:27. Potter and I answered back on November 2 by slashing off another 33 minutes, for the current record of 3:24:04.

Tim O’Neill