Why Alex Honnold is still El Capitan’s fastest climber

On October 10, Nick Ehman broke Alex Honnold’s record for solo ascent of the Nose, with a breathtaking time of 4:39 for America’s most famous big wall. But Nick Ehman, a YOSAR member, is still not the fastest man on El Capitan, who remains, in more ways than one, Alex Honnold. And here’s why.

While records are made to be broken, and El Capitan records have been broken over the last fifteen years, it’s not every day that an Alex Honnold record is broken. And with good reason. On October 10, 28-year-old Nick Ehman climbed the Nose solo in just 4 hours and 39 minutes, instead of the 5 hours 50 minutes it took Honnold to climb the Nose in the same way… and that’s the important thing. Ehman is the only one, and it’s worth pointing out, to have dared to challenge Alex’s record, and by shaving over an hour off the mark, quite a feat.

In fact, he climbed the Nose using the same mixed free and artificial technique as Alex: lots of free in the first half of the route, and lots of artificial at the top. We’ll come back to the methods he used at the end of the article. And the results are mind-boggling: a rope often takes three days, and we had to wait until 1975 for the NIAD (Nose-In-A-Day) with the mythical Jim Bridwell at the helm. The first solo NIAD was achieved by Steve Schneider in 1989: the strong El Cap