So Close: The Nose in 2:47:30

Posted on: June 30, 2008


Yosemite's El Capitan. The Nose, the first and arguably most well-known route on the face, offers one of the world's most established speed-climbing testpieces. The current record, held by the Huber brothers, is 2:45:45. Prior record holders Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama have spent the last week trying to reclaim the record, and on Sunday June 29, they came within two minutes of doing so. [Photo] Luke Bauer

On Sunday, June 29, 2008, Yosemite speed climber and historian Hans Florine, with Japanese partner Yuji Hirayama, climbed the Nose (VI 5.9 A2, 2,900') on El Capitan in 2 hours, 47 minutes and 30 seconds, nearly reclaiming the world's most coveted speed record. Their new time is the route's second fastest, barely missing the mark—2:45:45—that the Huber brothers set in October of last year (read the October 9, 2007 NewsWire).

In 1991 Florine and Steve Schneider set a new speed record for the Nose, just over eight hours; it was Florine's first speed record on that route. Since then the record has been broken nine times, often by Florine. He and Hirayama held a sub-three-hour record from 2002 until the Hubers arrived in Yosemite last fall, intent on returning to Germany with the speed crown.

Hirayama called Florine this spring to suggest they recapture the record. Florine was game, and the two planned a series of "tune-ups" to prepare, though not seriously train, for the speed ascent. Hirayama arrived at the Fresno airport on June 22, and the next day he and Florine climbed the Nose in 4:48. Three days later they did it in 3:28:58 and then cut it down to 2:47:30 on the 29th.

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Before returning home Hirayama has enough time for one more climb with Florine, this Wednesday, in hopes of shaving off more time. Alpinist.com will provide an update as soon as it is available.

Sources: Hans Florine, www.speedclimb.com, www.climbing.com, www.sfgate.com

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