Hubers Smash Zodiac Record

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The Huber brothers, Alexander and Thomas, have climbed El Capitan in less than two hours. During five separate climbs of the 16-pitch Zodiac route on the right side of the Yosemite monolith, the two Germans systematically hacked time off their existing speed record of 2 hours 31 minutes 20 seconds. On their final go, they went nearly 9 minutes under 2 hours to the cheers of a large crowd of climbers gathered in El Cap Meadow below the cliff. Last year, the Hubers made the first free ascent of Zodiac, at 5.13+, and, Alex said, “The secret for climbing that fast on this big wall was simply the free climbing. With all the efforts that we put in that route in order to free climb it, we had the advantage of knowing the route better than anyone else.” In June, the two began working on a new speed record. During their first go, they climbed several pitches twice in order to work out the fastest sequences. They broke their previous record by about 3 minutes during the second attempt, and then whittled it down to 2 hours 10 minutes in two more efforts. Thomas led the first half of the route, and Alexander took over at the eighth belay. “On this last go, Thomas handed the lead over to me about 57 minutes,” Alex said. “As the second part of the climb is slightly longer and technically a bit harder, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish in less than two hours. As in the attempts before, I didn’t go on 100 percent full speed. “But on the 17th of June, he handed the lead over to me after 50 minutes 50 seconds. This was the go! I was giving all I had in my body and climbed the first time ‘full speed,’ and I knew that we would make it in less than 2 hours.” Final time: 1 hour, 51 minutes, 34 seconds from the moment Thomas left the ground to the instant he topped out after his brother. “This time we really had the feeling that it was fast enough,” Alex concluded.

Trending on Climbing

Film: How Matt Cornell Free Soloed One of America’s Classic Hard Mixed Routes

"The Nutcracker" explores the mental challenges of solo climbing and the tactics Cornell used to help him send the route.