Speed Race on the Nose Heats Up


11/8/10 - Sean Leary and Dean Potter have broken the two-year-old speed record for climbing the Nose of El Capitan, climbing the 31-pitch route in 2 hours 36 minutes 45 seconds. That's a mere 20 seconds faster than the mark established by Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama in October 2008.

Potter had already set the speed record twice before, in 2001, when he broke four hours with Timmy O'Neill, then watched Florine and Jim Herson shave a couple of minutes off that time, and then went back with O'Neill to climb the route in 3:24. The next year, Florine and Hirayama broke the three-hour barrier, at 2:48:50, a record that stood for five years, until Alexander and Thomas Huber broke it twice, taking a little over three minutes off the mark. Then, in 2008, Hans and Yuji returned and cut the time down to 2:37:05 in two record-breaking runs.

The last two times the record has been broken, it was only by tiny margins at first, but then the same climbers returned a few days later to make a more emphatic statement. And according to Florine, who contacted Leary to congratulate him on his new record, Leary indicated he and Potter plan to make another attempt this fall. "This is just the beginning," Potter said in an email.

Asked if he would try to win back the record he has held off and on since 1990, Florine, 44, said it was "highly likely."

Date of Ascent: November 6, 2010

Sources: Supertopo.com, Hans Florine, Speedclimb.com