First Time: Two El Cap Routes in a Day for Women's Team

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Libby Sauter (left) and Quinn Brett atop El Capitan, midway on their push to do two routes in less than 22 hours. Photo courtesy of Quinn Brett.

10/18/14 - Quinn Brett and Libby Sauter have climbed two routes up El Capitan in less than 22 hours. The women climbed the Nose in 8 hours 25 minutes, descended the East Ledges, and then climbed Lurking Fear, topping out with a total time for both routes of 21 hours 17 minutes. This is the first time a pair of women has climbed two El Cap routes in a day.

The two women did their first ever climb together on Monday, October 13, warming up on the first 15 pitches of the Nose. The next day they demolished the women's speed record for Lurking Fear, climbing the route in 7 hours 47 minutes. This was more than five and a half hours faster than the old record, which Sauter and Chantel Astorga set in 2010.

After resting for two days, they went for the big link-up on Friday. "Our initial plan was to climb Lurking Fear first, until Tom Evans ( gently coached us into doing it the other way around," Brett said. The pair started up the Nose at 4:30 a.m. They lost about 20 minutes to a stuck rope on the pendulum on pitch six, and they passed three parties en route.

After a "casual" descent and some food, they hiked up along the west side of El Capand started climbing Lurking Fear at 4:40 p.m. "Libby led the first nine pitches, and the sun set around pitch five," Brett said. "I led from the Pillar of Despair to the top. We arrived 9 hours and 7 minutes later. No real snafus. We passed a party who had just finished fixing the first few pitches and another sleeping in a ledge at pitch 15 or so. I dropped my aid ladder on my second lead, and nature called—with immediacy—two pitches below Thanksgiving ledge.

"Our projected goal time for the Nose was between 8 and 11 hours, and for Lurking Fear 7  to 10 hours," Brett added. "We were stoked 21 hours and 17 minutes! We just missed the two-hour Valley floor–to–Valley floor mark by four or five minutes."

Last fall, Sauter and Mayan Smith-Gobat set a new women's speed record for the Nose, blazing up the route in just 5 hours 39 minutes.

Date of ascents: October 17, 2014

Sources: Quinn Brett,,

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