Climbers set new speed record on El Capitan

Rock climbers Dean Potter and Sean Leary set a new speed record for climbing one of the most iconic and well known routes in the world, besting the old mark by mere seconds. The talented and adventurous duo made their record-breaking assault on The Nose, the most famous climbing route on El Capitan, a popular big climbing wall located in Yosemite National Park. The new record was set few weeks back, and the climbers have since returned in an attempt to cut their time even further.

Potter and Leary took just 2 hours, 36 minutes, and 45 seconds to complete the 2900-foot route, shaving 20 seconds off the previous record which was set back in 2008 by Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama. A week after setting the new record, Dean and Sean attempted to break their own record, but were stopped short due to wet conditions on the upper portions of El Cap.

To put that two and a half hour speed climb into perspective consider this. The Nose wasn’t fully climbed for the first time until 1958, when a team of mountaineers spent 45 days working the route. It wasn’t conquered in a single day until 1975, and now we have climber finishing it in a matter of a few hours. Impressive progress to say the least.

For his part, former record holder Florine says that he won’t abdicate his title easily. He has begun training for a return to Yosemite where he and a partner hope to try to reclaim the speed record for themselves. In the months ahead, rock climbing fans are likely to see quite a spirited competition, with some of the world’s best climbers battling it out head-to-head for the speed crown.

Half a century atop El Capitan

Fifty years ago, Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan was climbed for the first time. Today, we celebrate that milestone with a continuation of the initial effort. Let’s face it, nobody will ever be first again, but you can still be part of the tradition.

Once upon a time, El Capitan was thought to be insurmountable, due in large part to a 3,000-foot granite cliff. Warren Harding assembled a small team and invested 47 days over more than a year in setting up climbing hardware and logistics to get to the top. The final drive took 12 days. This led to the glory of being first.

Today, the climb is considerably different.

Six months ago, two climbers made the summit in a hair more than 2 ½ hours. Modern equipment, advanced dietary technology and improved clothing have made this possible. That being said, the view from the top remains the view from the top.

Check out the video after the jump.