A Month of Record-Breaking in Yosemite


Honnold leading a pitch on Excalibur. Photo courtesy David Allfrey


Honnold leading a pitch on Excalibur. Photo courtesy David Allfrey

11/21/13 - On Saturday, November 9, David Allfrey and Alex Honnold broke yet another Yosemite Valley record, accompanying the solo record Cheyne Lempe set on the Salathé Wall during the same week. 

Allfrey and Honnold made the first one-day ascent of Excalibur (A3 5.8) on El Capitan in 16 hours, 10 minutes, breaking the 1998 record of 39 hours, 1 minute set by Willie Benegas, Steve Schneider, and Andres Zegers. The ascent was Honnold’s fifth record and Allfrey’s eighth speed record.

Excalibur is a wide crack route to the left of the Salathé Wall, which continues to climb thin aid pitches until the stout A3 section. Allfrey attributes their success in setting the record to the duo’s systematic climbing.

“When Alex and I climb together, his job is to move through free climbing terrain as fast as he can, and my job is to get us through the aid climbing as fast as possible,” says Allfrey.

Allfrey and Honnold switched leads more often than normal, which successfully kept the faster and most efficient climber in the lead.

“Climbing in the style that Alex and I have been teaming for is really allowing us to move quickly on routes like Excalibur,” Allfrey says. “Alex is a fast, strong, and bold free climber… He doesn’t really hesitate much… I have a similar mentality when aid climbing: I see the placements and the moves, and execute. We seem to have found a team system that really works.”

November has been the month of record-breaking in Yosemite. On November 11, Cheyne Lempe achieved the second one-day rope-solo ascent of the Salathé Wall on El Cap in 20 hours, six minutes, simultaneously breaking the 21-year-old-speed record.

Date of ascent: November 9, 2013

Sources: David Allfrey, climbing.com