Climbing the Nose With the Man of Speed

Hans Florine and Brian Gallant at the start of the Nose. Photo courtesy of Brian Gallant

Hans Florine and Brian Gallant at the start of the Nose. Photo courtesy of Brian Gallant

I originally met Hans Florine at the Outdoor Retailer trade shows. In October 2009, he came to our climbing gym here in Colorado Springs to do a speed climbing presentation. I talked to him for a bit, bringing up my failed attempt at climbing the Nose two years ago. After his presentation was over, I went to say goodbye to him, and he mentioned climbing the Nose with me "if I was ever down that way." Of course I would make it a point to get down that way! So we came up with a date, and I immediately started training! I put many hours into running, super long laps in the gym, CrossFit sessions... I even got the keys to the new City Rock gym, starting my sessions at 5:30 a.m. and climbing 3,020 feet in the gym in 6 hours (70 routes in a gym that was 44 feet tall)!

After training for six months, I felt I was ready for the big stone. On May 1, I flew out to California and started trying to get on as much granite as I could before the Big Day on the May 7. I started on an easy climb: After Seven (600 feet) with Jack Roberts (another legend), then climbed East Buttress of Middle Cathedral (1,100 feet). The last climb I did was North East Buttress of Higher Cathedral (900 feet), both with Ryan Huetter. That climb really got me ready for it: I thought it was going to be easy, but due to being allergic to flared-out offwidths, I got my butt spanked! Two parties, one above and one below us, bailed (probably due to us moving so slow), but after running out of water, and fighting our way through every offwidth section, we ended up finishing up the last pitch with headlamps. I knew the Nose with Hans could not end up being that bad — I was spent!

I was nervous about three days before the climb. I meet Hans the day before in El Cap Meadow, and we hiked up to the base to take a look at the Nose. Weather was perfect, and even though there were five or six parties on the Nose, Hans said, “That's okay, just more people to talk to on the way up." He has a funny way of turning any bad situation into a positive experience. We soon went back to his place and started organizing gear, food, water, etc. We got everything packed and ready for climbing, relaxed, and had some pasta for dinner. We were planning on getting up around 4 a.m. to head to valley and start climbing by 5 a.m., but that didn't quite work out as planned! His alarm did not go off, and we ended up starting our climb around 6:30 a.m. (once again, he just said, “That's fine, now we don't have to use headlamps.”)

I adopted his go-with-the-flow-and-everything-will-be-all-right attitude, and we started the climb I had been dreaming of finishing for a long time! Hans led us up to Sickle Ledge and said we were going much faster than we needed to. He was shooting for 20-minute pitches! (I think we averaged about 33-minute pitches when we finished, and we did it in 24 instead of the 31 in the guidebook.) I took over leading the next four pitches to the top of the Stove Legs. He led on up to pitch 13 where we decided to take the Jardine Traverse to pass a party on the King Swing section. I took over lead across the grey bands and up to the base of The Great Roof (three pitches). The roof was oozing this nasty, green, snot-looking stuff! Hans led that pitch with a couple pucker pieces that shifted on him, but held. He then walked me through the smoothest way to clean the great roof, and we were off again, trying to get to the summit before dark. I took the lead on the last two pitches to the summit; words can't describe how I felt when I saw that tree that you see in all the videos that is the top of the Nose! I did it! I finally finished my long-time dream to climb what most people consider the Best Climb in the World, and I did it with The Man, Hans Florine, who currently holds the speed record at 2:37! Our time ended up being 13 hours and 17 minutes, and I was so psyched, I would have been happy with just doing NIAD in 24 hours. To do it in just over a half a day was amazing!

Brian Gallant climbing through the Great Roof. Photo courtesy of Brian Gallant

Brian Gallant climbing through the Great Roof. Photo courtesy of Brian Gallant

Hans was super fun to climb and hang out with! It seemed like the hike down the East Ledge Descents took forever, but my friends Jory, John, and Dan were at the base waiting for us with my favorite cold beer (Pliney The Elder IPA)! It just doesn't get any better than that!

And now some thanks that are due: To my family (wife, Mandy, and two daughters, Sierra and Rylee) for putting up with me being away so much to get ready for this climb. Love you guys!

A BIG thanks to Hans Florine for helping me make my dream a reality!

And now to the gear that made it possible:

  • Black Diamond's NEW Octane Pack (perfect pack for NIAD, just the right size and super comfy, it felt like it was tattooed on my back!)

  • Maxim's Glider Rope; 10.2 x 60m (held up great to the abuse we put it through!)

  • Omega Pacific's Link Cams (All four sizes worked amazingly well; they just fit everywhere we put them!). And we used so many Omega Dovals (great wiregate, super-light oval carabiner)

  • Five Ten's NEW Grandstone rock shoes (The ultimate trad / big wall shoe!)

  • Metolius Master Cam offsets (great in pin scars), and the Waldo Big Wall harness (sooo comfy)

  • CW-X performance wear (I wear their stuff under my climbing pants and they work great to help you warm up and cool down slowly and they kept me warm!)

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Thanks for taking the time to read about an experience that I will never forget!