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Already Four New El Cap Speed Records in 2018

El Capitan

So far in 2018 there have been four new speed records on El Capitan, all up iconic big wall climbs.

On June 2, David Allfrey became the latest to set a record with his quick solo of Zodiac. Other new records are on Salathe, Shield and The Nose.

Almost every climb on El Capitan has a speed record, it’s just that The Nose is the most talked about and most often challenged.

For instance, the West Face was climbed in one hour and 56 minutes (1:56) in November 1999 by Hans Florine and Timmy O’Neil and still stands as the fastest recorded time.

Another is Tangerine Trip which was climbed in nine hours and 28 minutes (9:28) in June 2014 by Alex Honnold and David Allfrey.

Here are the new speed records that have been set so far in 2018.

The Shield

In May, Roger Putnam and Brandon Adams climbed this monster line in eight hours and 55 minutes (8:55).

The route is a 30-pitch 5.8 A3 that climbs up left of The Nose.

The older speed record was by Cedar Wright and Chris McNamara from August 1999 in 10 hours and 58 minutes (10:58).

After their climb, McNamara said, “We got to the top in 10 hours and 58 minutes, knocking seven hours and seven minutes off the record.”

In 1984, John Middendorf soloed the wall in four days.

The Shield

The Nose

On June 4, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell set the speed record at two hours, one minute and 50 seconds (2:01:50), beating their May record of two hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds (2:10:15).

They beat the 2017 speed record of two hours, 19 minutes and 44 seconds (2:19:44) set by Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds last fall.

It was Honnold and Caldwell’s eighth trip up the route this season, with the previous five ascents all clocking in around two hours and 30 minutes.

The duo are going for a sub-two-hour ascent. Honnold said, “Holding the record is cool, but there’s something elemental about trying to go sub-two hours, kind of like breaking the two-hour mark in a marathon. I think that if I can go sub-two hours, then I don’t really care who has the record.”

Salathe Wall

On June 1, Josie McKee and Diana Wendt set a new women’s speed record at 16 hours and 24 minutes (16:24).

In 2015, Libby Sauter and Alix Morris made the first one-day female ascent of Salathe Wall.

Sauter and Morris started out 6 a.m. and made it to the top just after midnight, completing the wall in 18.5 hours.

The overall fastest time is a blistering eight hours and 55 minutes by Alex Honnold and the late Sean Leary.


Big wall climber David Allfrey set a new solo speed record up Zodiac at 10 hours, 52 minutes and 50 seconds (10:52:50).

It was his first solo climb up El Capitan. He told Canadian big wall climber Pete Zabrok, “This was something I wanted to do for nine years, so I thought about it really hard for a really long time. And then I went up and executed it. My goal was to do it effectively, quickly and safely.”

Zabrok noted that Allfrey climbed with no hammer. “If you can’t climb this route clean, you shouldn’t be up there. Harsh words, but I believe this,” said Allfrey.


Zabrok said, “Allfrey used different tactics on different pitches, often back cleaning everything except the occasional piece of fixed gear.

“He used a clever Loop set up with a hundred meter rope and a small load tagged on a fifi containing food and water that he could recover from above.”

Allfrey said, “I was stacking rope like crazy into my rope bucket while I jammed a bar into my mouth as fast as I could.”

The overall speed record is one hour and 51 minutes by Alex and Thomas Huber in 2003.

Congratulations to this guy who just rope soloed The Zodiac on El Capitan in a blistering time of 10 hours and 50 minutes. This was Dave Allfrey’s first solo of the Big Stone – fitting he does it in a day. For those of you who don’t know, solo aid climbing with a rope involves placing your own gear in the cracks to make progress and support your weight (sometimes just barely). You self belay with the rope anchored below. At the end of each ropelength, you need to descent back down that rope, then remove the gear you placed as you ascend back up that rope. This is repeated for each “pitch” until you reach the top. Most parties do The Zodiac in 21 pitches. #maximclimbingteam #maximropes #thezodiac #ziad #elcapitan #yosemite photo of @daveallfrey by @randyleavitt

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