Five days ago, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell shattered the speed record on the Nose route on El Capitan in Yosemite, climbing the line in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 15 seconds. But they had a few tangled ropes and a couple mishaps, which forced a bit of down climbing and wasted valuable seconds. They wanted to go faster.
“From the get-go, we've been talking about sub two,” Honnold said after the climb. “I think we can. We're going to keep trying a bit.”
This morning, they inched ever closer to the sub-two mark, setting a new record on the nearly 3,000 foot route: 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds.
“A lot of it is familiarity with the route,” Honnold says. “Even though it doesn’t feel like we’re moving faster, we are. Every time we do a lap we’re a little smoother. We’re adapting to a new level of effort.”
But they still weren’t perfect. Just six pitches from the summit, their rope got stuck. Caldwell had to rappel down and shake it loose, while Honnold sat and waited. “It cost us at least two minutes,” Honnold says, “and ultimately the two-hour mark.’
It’s been a weekend of highs and lows in Yosemite Valley. On Saturday, two experienced climbers fell to their deaths from the Salathé Wall.
Honnold and Caldwell climbed the Nose yesterday, intentionally moving at a more casual pace to get a feel for how the deaths affected their headspace. “I didn't know them personally,” Honnold says. “But it is sobering. What we’re doing is a little bit different, but it’s using the same strategy and the same tactics. It’s definitely on the same spectrum.”
Honnold said he and Tommy will continue to try to chip time off the record in the coming weeks.