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The Nose Speed Record

LAST UPDATED: 25th July 2023

ClimberType of ClimbDateTimeNotes
Jim Bridwell, John Long, Billy WestbaySpeed Climbing197517:45First ascent of the NiaD
John Bachar, Mike LechlinskiSpeed Climbing197815:00
Thierry ‘Turbo’ Renault & CoSpeed Climbing197913:00
Dave Shultz, John MiddendorfSpeed Climbing198410:47
Duncan Critchley, Romain VoglerSpeed Climbing198409:10Second ascent of the NiaD
John Bachar, Peter CroftSpeed Climbing198610:05
Steve SchneiderRope Solo198921:22First solo ascent of The Nose
Hans Florine, Steve SchneiderSpeed Climbing19908:06
Peter Croft, Dave SchultzSpeed Climbing19906:40
Hans Florine, Andres PuhvelSpeed Climbing19916:01
Peter Croft, Dave SchultzSpeed Climbing19914:48
Hans Florine, Nancy FeaginSpeed Climbing199110:05Hans broke the male-female record with his then girlfriend, Nancy.
Hans Florine, Peter CroftSpeed Climbing19924:22
Sue McDevitt, Nancy FeaginSpeed Climbing199217:40First female NiaD in history
Hans FlorineRope Solo199314:10Hans becomes the second person to solo the NiaD, breaking a new solo record.
Hans Florine, Lynn HillSpeed Climbing19938:30Lynn and Hans create a new mixed male-female record of 8 hours. Lynn Hill Blog
Lynn HillFirst Free Ascent199423:00Lynn Hill makes the first ever free ascent of the Nose in just under 24 hours.
Hans Florine, Ben Ditto, Jake Slaney, Jody EvansSpeed Climbing199416:24The first and only four person NIAD record.
Abby Watkins, Vera WongSpeed Climbing199616:30Another women record beaten.
Galen Rowell, Conrad AnkerSpeed Climbing199716:00At the age of 57, Galen becomes the oldest person to speed climb the Nose.
Hans Florine, Jim HersonSpeed ClimbingOct 20013:57:27
Dean PotterRope Solo199912:59Dean slashes even more time off the solo record.
Hans Florine, Peter CroftSpeed Climbing20014:31
Dean Potter, Timmy O’NeillSpeed ClimbingOct 20013:59:35
Hans Florine, Jim HersonSpeed ClimbingOct 20013:57:27
Dean Potter, Timmy O’NeillSpeed ClimbingNov 20013:24:20
Hans Florine, Yuji HirayamaSpeed Climbing29th Sep 20022:48:55Planet Mountain
Heidi Wirz, Vera Schulte-PelkumSpeed Climbing200412:15Another female ascent.
Alexander and Thomas HuberSpeed Climbing4th Oct 20072:48:30Even though the Huber borthers beat the record, the came back 4 days later for more.
Alexander and Thomas HuberSpeed Climbing8th Oct 20072:45:45Planet Mountain
Hans Florine, Yuji HirayamaSpeed Climbing2nd Jul 20082:43:33Planet Mountain
Hans Florine, Yuji HirayamaSpeed Climbing12th Oct 20082:37:05Planet Mountain
Alex Honnold, Ueli SteckSpeed ClimbingMay 20104:20This was the first time Alex and Ueli had climbed together. They had two attempts at the speed record and did really well. They were on track to beat the record. Ueli took a bad fall and that ended the speed record for him.
Alex HonnoldRope Solo20105:50Alex soloed Yosemite’s double link up (Northwest Face of Half Dome, The Nose)
Dean Potter, Sean LearySpeed Climbing6th Nov 20102:36:45Planet Mountain
Libby Sauter, Chantel AstorgaSpeed ClimbingSep 201110:40Planet Mountain
Jes Meiris, Quinn BrettSpeed ClimbingJune 201210:19Planet Mountain
Mayan Smith-Gobart, Chantel AstorgaSpeed ClimbingSep 20127:26Planet Mountain
Hans Florine, Alex HonnoldSpeed Climbing17th Jun 20122:23:46Planet Mountain
Mayan Smith-Gobat, Sean LearySpeed Climbing20123:29Mayan and Sean broke the mixed male-female record.
Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby SauterSpeed ClimbingSep 20135:39Planet Mountain
Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby SauterSpeed ClimbingOct 20145:02Planet Mountain
Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby SauterSpeed Climbing20154:43The current female record. Video
Jim Reynolds, Brad GobrightSpeed Climbing21st Oct 20172:19:44Planet Mountain and Video
Tommy Caldwell, Alex HonnoldSpeed Climbing30th May 20182:10:15Red Bull Video Part 1
Tommy Caldwell, Alex HonnoldSpeed Climbing4th Jun 20182:01:50Red Bull Video Part 2
Tommy Caldwell, Alex HonnoldSpeed Climbing6th Jun 20181:58:07The current speed record. Video, Red Bull Video Part 3
Nick EhmanRope Solo10th Oct 20234:39The newest rope solo record.

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.

Alex Honnold on the Nose
Alex pulling on gear to help him ascend the Nose faster ©Tom Evans

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 Florine all going head-to-head for the fastest time.

Below you’ll find all the Nose in a Day (NIAD) speed record ascends; from male to male, rope solo ascents, male-female, all-female and teams of more than two.

All the entries with a medal show the current record held. All the other entries are previous record held, plus some significant milestones.

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 ascent of the NIAD. This marked the beginning of a never-ending competition between some of the best climbers from all around the world (although back then, the race wasn’t intentional).

Jim Bridwell and climbers on The Nose
Jim, John, and Billy right after they just speed climbed The Nose

1978: Mike Lechlinksi, John Bachar (15:00)

John’s first attempt at the NIAD with Mike Lechlinski.

1979: Thierry ‘Turbo’ Renault & Co (~13:00)

There is not much on this NIAD ascend, all we know it was done in under 13 hours.

1984: Dave Shultz, John Middendorf (10:47) – Duncan Critchley, Romain Vogler (9:10)

It wasn’t until 5 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 during the summer solstice and Dave and John went up during the same year in the winter solstice.

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.

Nevertheless, John and Peter started a race that others would try to beat.

1989: Steve ‘Shipoopi’ 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: Merry Braun, Werner Braun

This marked the first and fastest male-female ascent of The Nose and the first female ascent of the NIAD. (No information on the time could be found)

1990: Hans Florine, Steve ‘Shipoopi’ 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 Shipoopi 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.

In the same month, Hans and Andres tried to speed climb The Nose again to see if they could do it faster. They couldn’t. Their time was 6:17.

1991: Hans Florine, Nancy Feagin (10:05)

Hans broke the male-female record with his then girlfriend, Nancy.

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.

1992: Lynn Hill, Hans Florine (8:30)

Lynn Hill joined Florine on the Nose and breaks the female record at just over eight hours. In 1993, Lynn freed the Nose in 4 days.

1993: Hans Florine (Solo 14:11)

Florine’s love for the Nose saw him break the record for the solo ascent at just over 14 hours.

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!

Lynn Hill on the Great Roof section of The Nose
Lynn Hill free climbing the Great Roof on The Nose of El Capitan, 1994 ©Helnz Zak

1994: Ben Ditto, Jake Slaney, Jody Evans, Hans Florine (16:24) 🥇

The first (and probably last) four person NIAD record. As Hans Florine put it in his book, On The Nose:

‘I’d never met Jody before, for all I knew, this was his first climb. Jake had never been more than a pitch up any route. Ben had ten or fewer trad pitches under his belt.’

Not exactly the dream team but they made it work! The four-person speed record ascend is still to be broken.

1996: Abby Watkins, Vera Wong (16:30)

The female record had once again been broken.

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 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.

Dean Potter Nose Speed Record 2001
Potter and O’Neill after breaking the speed record in 2001

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.

Yuji Hirayama and Hans Florine on The Nose Speed Record
Yuri and Hans setting one of their many records on El Cap ©Paul Hara

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.

2006: Hans Florine (Solo 11:41)

Up until then, Hans held most of the speed records on the Nose; male-male, male-female, fastest three group and fastest four group ascent. The only record remaining was the solo which he’d lost to Dean Potter. It wasn’t easy, but he managed to break the solo record at 11:41.

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.

The Huber brothers setting The nose speed record
The Huber brothers setting their timer on The Nose ©Max Reichl

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 made 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 later, 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.

2010: Alex Honnold, Ueli Steck (4:20)

This was Alex and Ueli’s first climb together. Not exactly what you want for a speed record attempt but they made it work. Ueli was no stranger to speed-climbing big walls, he practically ran up the Nose according to Alex. They had two attempts. Their first time was 4:40 and their second was 4:20. They were on track to beat the record. However, Ueli took a nasty 80ft fall and that was the end of Ueli’s affair with the Nose speed record.

2010: Alex Honnold (Solo 5:50)

In 2012, Alex Honnold rope soloed Yosemite’s double link up in a day. He climbed the Northwest Face of Half Dome and The Nose. He soloed the Nose in 5 hours 50 minutes.

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 male-female record at 3 hours, 29 minutes. This still stands as the current male-female record.

2013-2015: Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter (5:39), (5:02), (4:43) 🥇

Mayan Smith-Gobat & Libby Sauter on the nose
Mayan and Libby still hold the fastest female ascent for NiaD ©Mayan Smith-Gobat & Libby Sauter

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. This record is still to be beaten.

2017: Jim Reynolds, Brad Gobright (2:19:44)

Jim and Brad breaking the Nose speed record ©Jan Zahula

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.

2023: Nick Ehman (Solo 4:39) 🥇

Alex’s solo record of the NIAD was recently broken by Nick Ehman on the 11th October 2023.

What Is The Fastest El Capitan Climb to Date?

Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold on The Nose Speed Record
Tommy and Alex breaking The Nose Speed record © REEL ROCK / Austin Siadak

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

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Meet Angel, a former desk-jockey turned global wanderer. After catching a severe case of the climbing (and travel) bug, she's now a world traveller, living the dirtbag dream. Highballs? Too mainstream for her taste. She's all about the thrills of lowballs, where the real action happens. Nowadays, you'll find her in Thailand, either precariously balanced on a granite slab or trading stories with Nemo and his buddies underwater!

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