Unknown Climber Outruns Alex Honnold for El Cap Speed Record

The fastest man on The Nose of El Capitan just lost his title.

Alex Honnold held the solo speed climbing record on The Nose (5.9 C2) until a man from Bloomington, Indiana snatched it from him on Tuesday.

Photographer Tom Evans reported 28-year-old Nick Ehman dispatched the 900m route in 4 hours, 39 minutes. He climbed in a mixed free and aid (or “fraid”) style, and his mark soundly beat Honnold’s existing 5:50 record.

Google Ehman’s name and you’ll find a Mountain Project profile with one item on his to-do list: an easy, nondescript 30m trad route in Tuolomne Meadows.

He brought the sauce this week, though, and plenty of it to douse a juggernaut. Honnold still holds the overall speed record on El Cap, at 1:58:07, along with Tommy Caldwell.

5:50 also doesn’t come close to Honnold’s fastest solo time on the formation; that came during the events of Free Solo, when he climbed the Freerider in 3:56.

But none of that makes him faster than Ehman on The Nose, for whom yesterday brought an impressive tick. The logistics of climbing alone on a route that complicated and challenging are titanic. And earning a speed record on any Yosemite classic means defeating the best climbers of a generation.

Honnold has shown a penchant for snatching his lost records back. Watch for him to check in at El Capitan soon — if he’s not too busy being dad.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.