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Allfrey and Honnold: 7 El Cap Routes in 7 Days

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Allfrey and Honnold
David Allfrey (left) and Alex Honnold, ready to rest after seven trips up El Capitan. Instagram: @alexhonnold.

6/10/14 – David Allfrey and Alex Honnold climbed seven full-length routes up El Capitan in seven days, setting four speed records in the process. Allfrey got the idea from Ammon McNeely and Ivo Ninov, and for a partner he recruited Honnold, with whom he had already set a number of Yosemite Valley speed records, including Excalibur, Lunar Eclipse, and the West Buttresson El Capitan.

The two started June 2 on their hardest route: New Jersey Turnpike, a serious aid climb on the right side of El Cap. “We did the El Niño start, which is mandatory 13a A0 and skips two short A3 and A4 pitches,” Allfrey said in an email. “Up high on the route in the nasty, black diorite you still have to climb two A4 pitches that were pretty bad. Loose rocks, sharp flakes, bad rivets in crappy rock, old copperheads. Kind of easy A4 but really scary stuff. Plus, the route was long and our first route out of the gate, so we were kind of getting into the swing of it all.”

Playing to their strengths, with Allfrey leading all the hard aid and Honnold speeding up the free and mixed pitches, the two completed the Turnpike in 12 hours 24 minutes, more than an hour and a half quicker than the previous record.

Two more speed records fell in the next two days on right-side El Cap routes: Tangerine Trip (9:28) and Eagle’s Way (7:56). “The Trip went down pretty smoothly, but even though it was [only] day two we were feeling tired from the long day before,” Allfrey said. “Alex did some cool free/aid climbing. I just tried to go fast. By Eagle’s Way I think we both felt like we were on, the route went really well, we were moving well. We felt decent on the summit of that one.” After each route, the two still had to make the long East Ledges descent, nearly 3,000 vertical feet to the Valley floor.

Honnold leading an aid pitch low on Tangerine Trip. Instagram: @daveallfrey.

Because of the summer heat in the Valley, the two were waking around 4 a.m. each day and racing to be down before midafternoon heat took its toll. They went to bed each night around 7:30 p.m.

After the three big aid routes, Allfrey said, “It was just grinding out trade routes as fast as we could, getting down to the river to ice our hands and legs, eating and sleeping. Then getting up way too early to do it all again.”

Over the next three days, the two bagged the Nose (5:16), Lurking Fear (5:05), and Zodiac (also 5:05). “The trade routes like the Nose and Lurking Fear were super pleasant and easy by comparison,” Honnold said.

On their last day, June 8, they went for another speed record and managed to beat the old mark on Triple Direct, climbing it in 5 hours 15 minutes: “a speed record, but a very uncompetitive one,” Honnold said. Still, Allfrey allowed, “We set it on Day 7. I, at least, was fairly content with that.”

In all, they climbed 173 guidebook pitches in seven days.

“We went to bed early as we could, but even still the body was only recovering a bit each night,” Allfrey said. “The alarm was never welcome. I’m going to take a few days of rest. My ankles were kind of swollen yesterday from pounding the hike down. I had kankles and fat hands.”

Dates of ascents: June 2–8, 2014

Sources: David Allfrey, Alex Honnold