Hans Florine, 51, currently holds the speed record on the The Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Along with Alex Honnold, he sent the 32-pitch route in an inhuman 2:23:46 in 2012.
Yesterday, he set off to notch another staggering stat: his 100th ascent of that same route. This time, however, he’s doing it at a more pedestrian three-day pace, and he’ll be accompanied by Fiona Thornewill and Jayme Moye, both first-time bigwallers. The former is a record holder in her own right, setting the pace for the fastest female trek to the north pole on skis which she did in 56 days. The latter is an outdoor writer from Boulder, Colorado. We caught up with the trio by dying cellphone from Dolt Tower as they woke up on Day Two of their climb to ask them questions posed by our Facebook followers.
Climbing: Morning! What’s for breakfast?
Hans [somewhat groggily]: Bagels and black medicine.
C: Sorry, did you say black medicine?
H:Just the absolute strongest coffee you can imagine.
C: Sounds like you could use another cup!
H:Well, it’s still brewing.
C: So I collected some questions from our Facebook audience, and all of these are coming straight from them. The most popular question is how different is trip #100 from trip #1?
H:Well, we’re on our second day, we’re starting from Dolt Tower which is exactly where we wanted to be, and I know exactly what lies ahead. On my first climb, I had no idea. That’s a monumental difference.
C: What’s your advice to the first time bigwaller?
H: Well this is old advice, but I’ve taken it to heart many times…. If you think you can’t make it, just see how high you can get. One more pitch. Just one more pitch. Pretty soon your goal may be in reach. Go one more pitch!
C: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
C: Of course it is! How many days in total have you spent on The Nose?
H:On successful climbs, 115. About 85 of my ascents were single day ascents.
C: Has your outlook on life or climbing changed since the passing of Dean Potter?
H:I love climbing and adventure, and I’m much safer than people may think. People hear speed climbing and think danger, but I’m very safe. I have no knowledge of BASE jumping. Mainly, I’d say that climbing is full of characters, and Dean and Sean Leary as well [ed. Sean Leary died in a wingsuit accident in Zion in 2014.] were big characters, and I wish I could have climbed with them. Our schedules never lined up. But now if I have a chance to climb with a real character I want to climb with them.
C: Would you prefer to climb in pink tights or khakis? Again, these are reader questions. We really couldn’t care less about your pants.
H:Ha! Well, I’m not an M-word, a mountaineer. I like to climb in shorts and a t-shirt. But if I’m limited to those two options, I’d choose khakis. They’re pretty soft.
C: Best shoes for long climbs?
H: [La Sportiva] TC Pros.
C: Will you be going for 200 climbs of The Nose?
H:The Nose, no. But on El Cap, yes. I’ve climbed El Cap 160 times by 25 routes, and I’ve bailed 12 times. But I’ll go for 200 on El Cap, yeah.
C: You’re taking what is for you probably a leisurely pace on this 100th climb. Why is that?
H:It’s more work, but I’m with two partners who have never been on a bigwall before. I keep joking that they never have to go rock climbing again because this is the best and most beautiful route in the world. To see that again through the eyes of a beginner is an absolutely amazing thing. That is a great way for me to experience this climb.
Hans and his partners expect to top out on Saturday.