11/11/13 – Cheyne Lempe, 22, has completed the second one-day rope-solo ascent of the Salathé Wall on El Capitan, breaking a 21-year-old speed record in the process. Lempe, a member of the Yosemite Search and Rescue Team, climbed the 35-pitch route (5.9 C2) in 20 hours 6 minutes.
Lempe, who called this the “most difficult objective I have ever attempted in Yosemite Valley, started up the famed route at 7:45 a.m. on November 6 and topped out at 3:51 a.m. the following morning.
“Though it is more time-consuming, I chose to be roped from the ground to the summit, with no free soloing,” Lempe said in an email. “I couldn’t add any mental stress to the mission, and I don’t mind playing it safe…. It was a low-gravity day for me, which is unusual. My rope never got stuck, I didn’t drop any gear, and I stayed psyched for almost the entire route, even when the sun dipped below the skyline.” Lempe said he drank eight liters of water and consumed 2,200 calories during the ascent.
The previous speed solo record on the Salathé was 21 hours 44 minutes, set by wall-master Steve Schneider in 1992. “It’s not going to be difficult for someone stronger than me to solo the route much faster,” Lempe said. “There are many pitches that can be quickly free soloed, and a stronger free climber will be able speed through terrain that I had to aid climb.”
Lempe has now done four one-day El Cap solos, including the Nose,Zodiac, and Lurking Fear. With partners, he also set speed records on The Shortest Straw and Octopussy; the latter was the first sub-24-hour ascent, climbed with David Allfrey and Scott Deputy. In early 2012, Lempe and Scott Bennett completed a massive link-up in Patagonia, climbing the northwest ridge of Aguja Mermoz and then the north pillar of Fitz Roy. See video from that climb here.
Date of ascent: November 6-7, 2013
Sources: Cheyne Lempe, American Alpine Journal