El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite speedster Hans Florine rope-soloed Triple Direct (VI 5.9 A2)–a Salathe-Muir Wall-Nose linkup conceived and climbed in 1969 by Jim Bridwell and Kim Schmitz–in 17 hours and 29 minutes earlier this month. For Florine, the climb was in at least one way, “off the couch”–an El Cap rope-soloing couch eight years deep. With the addition of this ascent, according to Florine, who keeps meticulous records on speedclimb.com, there are still only six routes on El Capitan that have seen a sub-24-hour solo ascent: The West Face (V 5.7 A2), Lurking Fear (VI 5.9, A2), Salathe Wall (VI 5.9 A2), The Nose (VI 5.9 A2), Zodiac (VI 5.7 A3) and Tangerine Trip (VI 5.9 A3).
Florine has been chasing down speed records in the Valley longer and perhaps more doggedly than anyone in its history. His solo-in-a-day records on the West Face and Lurking Fear (done in 8:16 and 9:20 respectively on the same day in June 2000) still stand. He has set the most sought-after team speed record–the Nose–eight times.
“Hans Florine is the most positively competitive person I have ever met. More than anything he climbs to win,” Tommy Caldwell wrote in Alpinist 25. “Everything in his life is done by the clock. He knows that at 5a.m. it takes him precisely twenty-three minutes and thirty seconds to drive from his home to El Cap and twenty-one minutes and thirty seconds to walk to the base of the Nose…. When I found an abandoned can of chili behind a tree [on top of El Cap], Hans told me casually he could open it in ten second. Sure enough, a few seconds later chili was served.”
From 5:48 a.m. to 11:17 p.m., Florine traveled up Triple Direct (via the Freeblast start), a strategic route choice, he said, “due to its orientation to sun-shade timing,” on the forecasted 106-degree day. Along the way, he took two short falls a few minutes apart. One 10-footer onto his GriGri and foot as he started up the Great Roof pitch of the Nose gave him pause. “I landed kinda hard on my foot and at first thought I better sit still a minute to see if I am in shock and cannot feel a sprained ankle or broken ankle,” he wrote. His wits gathered, Florine started up again, but took a second short fall directly onto his daisy chain that nearly knocked the wind out of him a few minutes later.
But what made Triple Direct particularly demanding, Florine says, is the mandatory free climbing on Freeblast and a difficult pitch of traversing aid in the baking sun between the Muir Wall and the Nose. “This [traverse] is especially challenging for the soloist to protect and retrace,” he wrote. And in general, “[speed soloing is] a lot of work…It takes a very focused desire to take on this large of a chunk of granite and stay set and determined to keep moving until you are done. It really is a type of fun that leaves you wondering why you don’t do it more often, and at the very same time, wondering why you did it at all. I love that.”