New Female Nose Speed Record

Libby Sauter leads the Great Roof. Photo courtesy of Tom Evans/

Libby Sauter leads the Great Roof. Photo courtesy of Tom Evans/

9/20/11 - Last week, a new speed record was set on the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite. But this time it wasn't Ueli Steck and Alex Honnold racing up—Valley locals and YOSAR members Libby Sauter and Chantal Astorga broke the women's speed record with a time of 10 hours, 40 minutes. The pair led in four blocks, with Sauter starting out and Astorga finishing up.

"The whole thing was so great," Sauter says. "But watching Chantal lead up the section to the Boot by headlamp with a nearly full moon lighting up her and center buttress of El Cap with big fluffy clouds floating by was truly beautiful."

Sauter started training for this climb last spring; this was her seventh time up the Nose. Because the two climbers were YOSAR's newest members, they "bonded over similar skill sets and quickly set to work on the big stone together," Sauter says. They climbed Lurking Fear last year and set the women's speed record on that route as well.

The previous record was set in 2004 by Heidi Wirtz and Vera Schulte-Pelkum at 12 hours, 15 minutes. Earlier this summer, Sauter teamed up with Fernando Motta to finish the Nose/Half Dome link-up in less than 24 hours.

Date of ascent: September 16, 2011