Alex Honnold leads Pitch 7 of Lurking Fear (VI 5.7 C2F or 5.13c, 2,000′) while Sean Leary jugs up a short-fixed rope below. The pair completed the climb as part of an El Capitan link-up of The Nose (VI 5.9 C2 or 5.14a, 2,900’), Salathe Wall (VI 5.9 C2 or 5.13b/c, 2,900′) and Lurking Fear in just under 24 hours. [Photo] Tom Evans
On June 30, Alex Honnold and Sean Leary embarked on a speed-climbing binge on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The pair sprinted up The Nose (VI 5.9 C2 or 5.14a, 2,900′), Salathe Wall (VI 5.9 C2 or 5.13b/c, 2,900′) and Lurking Fear (VI 5.7 C2F or 5.13c, 2,000′), topping out their final climb at 7:30 p.m. on July 1 after 23 hours of continuous climbing. In total, the pair climbed about 85 pitches and 8,200 vertical feet.
Armed with a rope and standard double rack, Honnold and Leary began the overnight push from Camp 4. Leary took the sharp end, leading the first half of The Nose while Honnold simulclimbed behind. At the Boot Flake, Honnold took over and short-fixed the remaining 14 pitches. They flew up Salathe Wall and Lurking Fear in similar fashion, swapping leads with a combination of simulclimbing and short-fixing.
“Part of the appeal of short-fixing is that the second gets to wear street shoes,” Honnold explained. “We knew that our feet would be worked by the end of the day.
“It feels like climbing about 90 pitches of 10c hands,” Honnold added. “I was climbing in the same style on both [the solo link-up and three El Cap routes in a day]. Even though I was with Sean for the Triple it’s still definite do-not-fall a lot of the time.”
Both climbers had ample experience climbing on The Nose and Salathe Wall. Lurking Fear winds its way up a relatively low-angle slab, which made it an ideal candidate for the final climb, Honnold said.
Honnold and Leary racked up and ready to go on the approach to El Capitan, Yosemite National Park. In roughly 23 hours, the pair speed-climbed three Grade VI routes on the massive wall: The Nose, Salathe Wall and Lurking Fear. [Photo] Tom Evans
“We stepped on bolts, pins, whatever we could the whole way,” Honnold said, citing the sheer length of the challenge. “It was all about getting to the top.” He and Leary free climbed most of The Nose and Salathe Wall and French freed Lurking Fear, aiding the most difficult sections.
After topping out on the final climb of the day, the pair trudged back to the valley floor reaching their car at 9:30 p.m., just in time for a few slices of pizza on the Curry Deck.
“It’s my longest day of climbing ever and I’m always happy to have a new personal best,” Honnold said, “but honestly, it wasn’t a whole ton of fun after the first route and a half. Everything just hurts too much.”
Honnold and Leary said they are both ready to free climb more and have no immediate plans to attempt other speedy link-ups.