American Climbers Break Speed Record on Nose

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Dean Potter and Sean Leary set a new speed record for the Nose route of El Capitan on Saturday. The pair climbed the 2900-foot route in two hours, thirty-six minutes, forty-five seconds, just twenty seconds faster than the record set by Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama in 2008.

In an email to Outside, Potter wrote that he and Leary already had another attempt planned.

“Sean and I are just getting into a groove together,” he wrote. “Both of us being locals here in Yosemite, we'll be running laps on the Nose from now on.”

Climbed in 1958 by a team led by Warren Harding, the first ascent of the Nose took 45 days using fixed ropes. Jim Bridwell, John Long, and Billy Westbay made the first one-day ascent of the route in 1975.

Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, the Nose would be at the center of a notorious rivalry between Potter and Florine, who competed to outdo each other on it and other Yosemite routes. When Potter found out in 1999 that Florine planned to make the first one-day solo link-up of the Nose and Half Dome the next day, Potter flew from Colorado to California and took a taxi 85 miles to Yosemite so he could do it first.

According to Potter, competing with Florine doesn't concern him much these days.¬†“The competitive aspect really doesn't play into my mind and emotions much anymore,” he said.

Florine told Climbing Magazine it was “highly likely” he would try to regain the record.

Read more about Dean Potter's speed ascents in Outside's 2002 profile¬†“Climbing at the Speed of Soul”

–Adam Roy

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