|Climber||Type of Climb||Date||Time||Notes|
|Jim Bridwell, John Long, Billy Westbay||Speed Climbing||1975||17:45||First ascent of the NiaD|
|Duncan Critchley, Romain Vogler||Speed Climbing||1984||09:10||Second ascent of the NiaD|
|John Bachar, Peter Croft||Speed Climbing||1986||10:05|
|Steve Schneider||Rope Solo||1989||21:22||First solo ascent of The Nose|
|Peter Croft, Dave Schultz||Speed Climbing||1990||8:06|
|Hans Florine, Steve Schneider||Speed Climbing||1990||6:40|
|Peter Croft, Dave Schultz||Speed Climbing||1991||6:01|
|Hans Florine, Andres Puhvel||Speed Climbing||1991||4:48|
|Hans Florine, Peter Croft||Speed Climbing||1992||4:22|
|Sue McDevitt, Nancy Feagin||Speed Climbing||1992||17:40||First female NiaD in history|
|Hans Florine||Rope Solo||1993||14:10||Hans becomes the second person to solo the NiaD, breaking a new solo record.|
|Hans Florine, Lynn Hill||Speed Climbing||1993||8:30||Lynn and Hans create a new mixed male-female record of 8 hours. Lynn Hill Blog|
|Lynn Hill||First Free Ascent||1994||23:00||Lynn Hill makes the first ever free ascent of the Nose in just under 24 hours.|
|Galen Rowell, Conrad Anker||Speed Climbing||1997||16:00||Galen becomes the oldest person to speed climb the Nose.|
|Hans Florine, Jim Herson||Speed Climbing||Oct 2001||3:57:27|
|Dean Potter||Rope Solo||1999||12:59||Dean slashes even more time off the solo record.|
|Hans Florine, Peter Croft||Speed Climbing||2001||4:31|
|Dean Potter, Timmy O’Neill||Speed Climbing||Oct 2001||3:59:35|
|Hans Florine, Jim Herson||Speed Climbing||Oct 2001||3:57:27|
|Dean Potter, Timmy O’Neill||Speed Climbing||Nov 2001||3:24:20|
|Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama||Speed Climbing||29th Sep 2002||2:48:55||Planet Mountain|
|Heidi Wirz, Vera Schulte-Pelkum||Speed Climbing||2004||12:15||Another female ascent.|
|Alexander and Thomas Huber||Speed Climbing||4th Oct 2007||2:48:30||Even though the Huber borthers beat the record, the came back 4 days later for more.|
|Alexander and Thomas Huber||Speed Climbing||8th Oct 2007||2:45:45||Planet Mountain|
|Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama||Speed Climbing||2nd Jul 2008||2:43:33||Planet Mountain|
|Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama||Speed Climbing||12th Oct 2008||2:37:05||Planet Mountain|
|Dean Potter, Sean Leary||Speed Climbing||6th Nov 2010||2:36:45||Planet Mountain|
|Libby Sauter, Chantel Astorga||Speed Climbing||Sep 2011||10:40||Planet Mountain|
|Jes Meiris, Quinn Brett||Speed Climbing||June 2012||10:19||Planet Mountain|
|Mayan Smith-Gobart, Chantel Astorga||Speed Climbing||Sep 2012||7:26||Planet Mountain|
|Hans Florine, Alex Honnold||Speed Climbing||17th Jun 2012||2:23:46||Planet Mountain|
|Mayan Smith-Gobat, Sean Leary||Speed Climbing||2012||3:29||Mayan and Sean broke the mixed male-female record.|
|Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter||Speed Climbing||Sep 2013||5:39||Planet Mountain|
|Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter||Speed Climbing||Oct 2014||5:02||Planet Mountain|
|Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter||Speed Climbing||2015||4:43||The current female record. Video|
|Jim Reynolds, Brad Gobright||Speed Climbing||21st Oct 2017||2:19:44||Planet Mountain and Video|
|Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold||Speed Climbing||30th May 2018||2:10:15||Red Bull Video Part 1|
|Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold||Speed Climbing||4th Jun 2018||2:01:50||Red Bull Video Part 2|
|Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold||Speed Climbing||6th Jun 2018||1:58:07||The current speed record. Video, Red Bull Video Part 3|
Nestled in the heart of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan stands as a towering challenge to those who dare feel brave enough to scale its imposing face. This legendary monolith, with its sheer granite walls that reach skyward for over 3,000 feet, has drawn adventurers and climbers from around the world for decades. It is on this majestic stage that the history of The Nose Speed Record unfolds.
Yosemite Valley has long been a mecca for rock climbing, with its rugged beauty captivating the imaginations of pioneers in the early 20th century. It was here that the likes of Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, and Chuck Pratt made their mark in the 1950s and ’60s, conquering seemingly impossible routes on El Capitan.
The History of Speed Climbing on El Capitan
In 1958, Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore made history with the first ascent of The Nose, a formidable line up the center of El Capitan’s southwest face. This groundbreaking achievement took a grueling 45 days, and their perseverance set the stage for future generations of climbers.
Over the years, climbers continued to push the limits of speed and skill on The Nose, and in the 1970s, the concept of the Nose Speed Record emerged. The goal was to ascend this iconic route in the shortest amount of time possible, testing the physical and mental limits of the climbers. What started as a personal challenge soon evolved into a fiercely competitive pursuit, captivating the climbing community and capturing the imagination of the world.
Today, the Nose Speed Record stands as a pinnacle of achievement in the climbing world, honoring those who dare to embrace the audacious and conquer El Capitan’s iconic route with unrivaled speed and finesse.
The history of speed climbing on El Capitan is a thrilling saga of human endurance and relentless pursuit. It all began with Jim Bridwell’s groundbreaking achievement in 1975 when he completed the first-ever one-day ascent of The Nose, alongside John Long and Billy Westbay, in an impressive sub-18 hours. This milestone sparked a new era of the possibilities of speed-climbing El Capitan.
The aim of the game is to go up the wall as fast as you can. So, when it comes to doing the Nose in a day (NiaD) anything goes. You can pull on gear, use bolts and anchors as foot holds, jumar up the wall, and use any aid you want.
The Nose Speed Record: A Timeline
As the years went by, the times got shorter and shorter and an unofficial speed record began; a rivalry some may say. We’re talking big names like Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Dean Potter and Hans Florian all going head-to-head for the fastest time.
The timeline goes a little bit like this:
1975: Jim Bridwell, John Long, Billy Westbay (17:45)
Jim and the gang made the first-ever repeat of NiaD. This marked the beginning of a never-ending competition between some of the best climbers from all around the world.
1984: Duncan Critchley, Romain Vogler (9:10)
It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that The Nose would see another ascent in a day. Duncan and Romain battled their way up the NiaD in just over 9 hours.
1986: John Bachar, Peter Croft (10:05)
In 1986, John Bachar and Peter Croft set off with a time of 10 hours and 5 minutes on The Nose. However, they couldn’t quite beat the record of 9:10, made by Duncan Critchley and Romain Vogler two years earlier.
1989: Steve Schneider (solo 21:22)
In 1989, Steve “Shipoopi” Schneider etched his name in climbing history by accomplishing the first-ever solo one-day ascent of the Nose. Known as an Original Gangster, Schneider’s feat demonstrated both skill and audacity.
1990: Hans Florine, Steven Schneider (8:06) – Peter Croft & Dave Schultz (6:40)
The 90s saw Hans Florine and Peter Croft battling it out for the best time. Hans Florine teamed up with Steve Schneider in 1990 and showcased their skill with a time of 8 hours and 6 minutes. Not long after, Peter Croft and Dave Schultz answered back with a time of 6 hours and 40 minutes.
1991: Hans Florine, Andres Puhvel (6:01) – Peter Croft & Dave Schultz (4:48)
Hans Florine and Andres Puhvel came back in 1991 in retaliation and completed the NiaD in a commendable 6 hours and 1 minute. Building upon this momentum, in 1991, Peter Croft and Dave Schultz came back and astonished the climbing community by scaling the Nose in less than five hours.
1992: Hans Florine, Peter Croft (4:22)
The following year, the two rivals, Croft and Florine, joined forces and shattered expectations with a mind-boggling time of 4 hours and 22 minutes. Florine would go on to develop a deep connection with the route, climbing it over a hundred times and engaging in a record-setting rivalry.
1992: Sue McDevitt, Nancy Feagin (17:40)
In a groundbreaking achievement, Sue McDevitt and Nancy Feagin made history in 1992 as the first all-female team to complete a one-day ascent of the Nose. Their remarkable feat, was accomplished in a time of 17 hours and 40 minutes.
1993: Hans Florine (solo 14:10)
Florine’s love for the Nose saw him break the record for the solo ascent at just over 14 hours.
1993: Lynn Hill, Hans Florine (8:30)
Lynn Hill joined Florine on the Nose and breaks the female record at just over eight hours. In the same year, Lynn frees the Nose in 4 days.
1994: Lynn Hill (23:00)
Lynn came back a year later more determined than ever and managed to free climb The Nose again, this time in just 24 hours. This record was held for 12 years until Tommy Caldwell free climbed The Nose in just 12 hours in 2005, not once, but twice!
1997: Galen Rowell, Conrad Anker (16:00)
In 1997, Galen Rowell, the acclaimed photographer at the age of 57, became the oldest man to conquer the Nose in a Day (NiaD). Rowell, partnering with Conrad Anker, completed the route in 16 hours.
1998: Hans Florine, Nancy Feagin (Nose & Half Dome 23:30)
The year 1998 witnessed another groundbreaking achievement when Hans Florine, alongside Nancy Feagin, embarked on an impressive enchainment. They successfully climbed both the Nose on El Capitan and the Regular Route on Half Dome in a time of 23 hours and 30 minutes.
1999: Dean Potter (solo 12:59)
Dean Potter lowered the NiaD solo record to an astonishing 12 hours and 59 minutes, showcasing his exceptional skill and speed. In 1999, Hans Florine added to his impressive climbing resume by completing the NiaD for the 20th time.
2001: Hans Florine, Peter Croft (04:31)
The early 2000s saw a flurry of record-breaking attempts. In 2001, Hans Florine partnered with Peter Croft again and achieved a remarkable time of 4 hours and 31 minutes, closely approaching their 1992 NiaD record.
2001: Dean Potter, Timmy O’Neill (03:59:35)
Just weeks later, Dean Potter and Timmy O’Neill surpassed them with a new record of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and 35 seconds.
2001: Hans Florine, Jim Herson (3:57:27) – Potter, O’Neill (3:24:20)
The record-breaking back-and-forth continued, with Hans Florine and Jim Herson reclaiming the record in 3 hours, 57 minutes, and 27 seconds, only to be surpassed again by Potter and O’Neill in an astonishing 3 hours, 24 minutes, and 20 seconds.
2002: Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama (2:48:55)
In 2002, Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama set a new record, slicing off 35 minutes from the previous record by Potter and O’Neill. This was the fastest ascent of El Capitan to date, with many believing it would remain unbroken for a very long time.
2004: Heidi Wirz, Vera Schulte-Pelkum (12:15)
Another female duo came along in 2004, Heidi Wirz and Vera Schulte-Pelkum shaving off 5 hours from the previous female record at 12 hours 15 minutes.
2007: Thomas Huber, Alex Huber (2:45:45)
Going back to the male rivalry, in 2007 brothers Alex and Thomas Huber shattered expectations by setting a new record at 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 45 seconds. Four days prior, they had just about passed Hans and Yuji’s record by 25 seconds, but clearly, that wasn’t enough for them.
2008: Hans Florine, Yuji Hirayama (2:37:05)
The record-breaking continued in 2008 when Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama answered back with a time of 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 5 seconds, further solidifying their place in the NiaD speed record history (a few months earlier they make their ascent at 2:43:33).
2010: Sean Leary, Dean Potter (2:36:45)
In 2010, Sean Leary convinced Dean Potter to come out of retirement, resulting in the duo reclaiming the record in an impressive time of 2 hours, 36 minutes, and 45 seconds.
2011: Libby Sauter, Chantel Astorga (10:40)
Another female duo, another female record. Libby and Chantel shaved off just under 2 hours from Heidi and Vera’s NiaD record, making it the fastest female time at the time.
2012: Jes Meiris, Quinn Brett (10:19)
The female crushers didn’t stop breaking records. Jes and Quinn came along a year after, shaving off 20 minutes from the female record.
2012: Mayan Smith-Gobart, Chantel Astorga (7:26)
Chantel teamed up with Mayan and took the female record down to just over 10 hours. In that year, we saw more female climbers getting closer and closer to that all-time female record.
2012: Hans Florine, Alex Honnold (2:23:46)
In 2012 saw another male record. Just a day before his 49th birthday, Hans Florine, partnered with renowned free soloist Alex Honnold, achieved an astonishing time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 46 seconds.
2012: Mayan Smith-Gobat, Sean Leary (3:29)
Mayan and Sean broke the mixed male-female record at 3 hours, 29 minutes.
2013-2015: Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter (5:39), (5:02), (4:43)
The year 2013 witnessed significant achievements by Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter, who set the new all-female record at 5 hours and 39 minutes. Smith-Gobat and Sauter continued to lower their own record, accomplishing the NiaD in 5 hours and 2 minutes in 2014, and shortly after, in a remarkable time of 4 hours and 43 minutes in 2015.
2017: Jim Reynolds, Brad Gobright (2:19:44)
In 2017, The Nose speed was cut down even more to 2:19:44 by Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds. An unassuming duo no one expected would break such a record. That season, Brad and Jim climbed The Nose 11 times, perfecting the moves, the sequences, and ultimately their time.
2018: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell (1:58:07)
2018 was the year when two of the most prolific climbers answered back to the two amateurs who were somehow holding the new record. Filled with their competitive nature, Alex and Tommy spent countless hours on the Nose until they achieved their goal of sub-2 hours.
What Is The Fastest El Capitan Climb to Date?
On June 6, 2018, climbing legends Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first to complete The Nose in under two hours. With a remarkable time of 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 7 seconds, they shattered the symbolic 2-hour barrier, leaving the climbing community in awe. Two days before they had climbed it in 2:01:50.
Their record-breaking ascent came shortly after surpassing the previous record set in 2017 by Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds. The incredible feat achieved by Honnold and Caldwell is likely to remain unmatched for a significant period.
To give you perspective on how fast Tommy and Alex climbed NiaD, it usually takes climbers a day to reach Sickle Ledge. It took Tommy a casual 11 minutes. Yes, that’s right. 11 minutes.
The gripping story of The Nose’s speed ascent, along with the remarkable attempts made by Caldwell and Honnold to break the record, is vividly portrayed in “The Nose Speed Record” by Reel Rock 14 and Red Bull TV.
Speed Climbing El Capitan: Have You Got What It Takes?
Probably not, but we can dream, right?
Speed climbing anything is not easy, let alone speed climbing one of the biggest granite monoliths in the world. From Jim Bridwell and co with 17 hours and 45 minutes to Alex and Tommy with 1 hour, 58 minutes and 7 seconds just shows how much this discipline has evolved.
The Nose speed record is still to be beaten. Who knows who will step up as the next contender to challenge the limits of human potential?
Header Image: ©Steve Rokks