There may be no big wall rock climb more famous in the world than The Nose on El Capitan, a 31-pitch 5.9 C2 which has been freed at 5.14a. American climber Chris Gay has become the latest to make a rope-solo ascent of The Nose in under 24 hours, which he accomplished earlier this month. Climbers use a variety of techniques to rope-solo on El Capitan, from self-belaying to “Metroviching” – a term coined after speed-soloist Russ Mitrovich where a climber uses daisy chains to stay clipped to at least two pieces at all times.
Rope-soloing The Nose in a day – known as NIAD – is rarely done, but many climbers have accomplished the feat over the past few decades. The first rope-solo NIAD was in 1989 by Steve “Shipoopi” Schneider in 21:22. In 1999, Dean Potter lowered the fastest solo time up NIAD to 12 hours and 59 minutes. Hans Florine took back the solo NIAD record with a time of 11 hours and 41 minutes. In 2012, Alex Honnold soloed The Nose in six hours. In 2016, Miranda Oakley became the first woman to rope-solo NIAD.
In 2018, top U.K. climber Pete Whittaker rope-soloed the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome and The Nose in under 24 hours. During that same trip, Whittaker became the first climber to free and rope-solo El Capitan in a day with an ascent of Freerider – read more about it here.
Six years ago, Chris Gay worked as a climbing steward for Yosemite National Park, during which time he began exploring rope-soloing valley walls. In 2016, he rope-soloed The Prow on Washington Column.