New Women's Speed Record on El Cap

posted by dpm on 09/24/2012

Mayan Smith-Gobat and Chantel Astorga have shattered the women's speed record for the Nose of El Cap and completed the first female in-a-day link-up of El Cap and Half Dome. Just a few days ago the duo took a practice run on the Nose and were able to knock 30 minutes off the previous record of 10 hours and 40 minutes which was held by Astorga and Libby Sauter. Breaking the previous record on a practice run was a solid indication that the two had the potential to do it much faster, which they did yesterday. The pair started up at 3:30 a.m. and tagged the tree atop El Cap just 7 hours and 26 minutes later, knocking almost three hours off the previous record.

Mayan Smith-Gobat was featured on the cover of Issue 20. Her feature article offers a first person glimpse into what it took to become the 2nd woman to free climb El Capitan's Salathe Wall (5.13b). Read it here in issue 20.

Tom Evans of the El Cap Report watched the action go down and was impressed with the display of skill. He writes on his website: "I couldn’t believe the pace they were running, but could tell it was fast by their energy level. Mayan lead the last pitch, in a display of skill and nerve unmatched by ANY of the many climbers, male or female, I have seen do speed ascents of the route. By the time she short fixed Chantel, at the end of the overhanging section, she must have had well over a hundred feet of rope hanging free. A fall from that position would have been catastrophic! She didn’t rush for the tree like most leaders in the past have done, for she knew that the clock stopped when the second touched the tree and not the leader. So she stopped along the way to pull up the miles of slack she had in the line so Chantel would be protected and not have to deal with the huge amount of slack and a potential of a big time fall."

After their record breaking ascent of the Nose route, the women climbed Half Dome to become the first all-female team to complete the El Cap/Half Dome link-up in a day. No word on what the official time is for the full link but whatever it is; it sets the standard for all future female teams to aspire to. 

Photos of the ascent can be seen at Tom Evans' El Cap Report. 

Update: The official time for the full link, from the start of El Cap to the top of Half Dome, was 20 hours and 9 minutes.