Donini and Lowe Plan Nose-in-a-Day Attempt

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Jim Donini climbing in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, in 2006. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

Jim Donini climbing in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, in 2006. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

2/25/13 - With a combined age of nearly 140, Jim Donini and George Lowe will attempt to climb the Nose of El Capitan in a single day in May. Donini is renting a house outside Yosemite Valley for the full month to prepare, and the two plan to make their attempt in the second half of the month. Donini will turn 70 in July, and Lowe will be 69 in August.

Though they are best known as alpinists, with major first ascents around the world, both men have extensive rock climbing résumés. Both have done the Nose before, along with other El Capitan routes; Donini was the first to free-climb Boot Flake on the Nose, and Lowe did the Nose in a day in the 1990s with the late Alex Lowe. "Alex always said 'The best climber is the one who is having the most fun,' and on that day I was definitely the best climber in the world," Lowe said.

Donini and Lowe, along with a 20-year-old friend, completed the Evolution Traverse in the Sierra in a fast two days in 2010. The remote, eight-mile route crosses nine peaks over 13,000 feet, with extensive fourth- and fifth-class climbing that they climbed almost entirely free-solo. At the time, they were 67 and 66, respectively.

Donini, who lives in southwestern Colorado and frequently climbs the sandstone cracks of Indian Creek, said that part of the appeal of attempting the Nose would be re-familiarizing himself with Yosemite's slippery granite. "It's important to break out of your comfort zone or else you stagnate," he said.

Sources: Jim Donini, George Lowe