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El Capitan Speed Climbing: 7 in 7 by Dave Allfrey

Alex Honnold_Dave Allfrey_Zodiac7 in 7
I looked up the rope to the anchor above that I was lowering myself away from. I was out of rope and still far from being directly under the piece of gear above. Alex had climbed nearly the entire pitch without any gear, a typical situation. He glanced down and saw me hesitate. “The swing is
clean, just go for it!” he shouted. I immediately let go of the rope, a guttural yell escaped my throat as I swung along the wall covering nearly 100 feet from side to side. My feet touched the stone and I ran like I was in a Flinstone car. Hitting the apex of the swing, turning and running the other
way until the momentum died and I could begin jumaring upwards. I let out a loud whoop of excitement. Despite being exhausted, we were still having fun up here.

Alex Honnold The Nose El Capitan 7 in 7
We were about 45 minutes into the free climbing start to the Zodiac, nearly 500 feet up the route.It was Day 6 of our 7 routes in 7 days adventure on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, the “7 in 7.” Six days ago we had started the whole event on the New Jersey Turnpike with the El Nino start (VI
.13b A4), reorganized our gear on the summit, descended and driven to El Portal to sleep. We woke up at 4am the next day and climbedTangerine Trip (VI 5.9 C3). We repeated this process again and again on Eagles Way (VI 5.9 A3+), The Nose (VI 5.9 C2), Lurking Fear (VI 5.9 A2) and now the Zodiac (VI .13a C3). The next day we would finish out the week on the Triple Direct (VI 5.9 C2).
In 2007, I walked into the Yosemite West cabin of my climbing mentor Kelly Rich to find some of Yosemite’s greats hanging out and chatting. Kelly introduced me to Dean Potter, Ivo Ninov and Ammon McNeely and I tried to play it cool and hide how star struck I felt. They talked about free soloing, base jumping, and climbing El Cap routes in a day; I could barely relate to the conversation. At the time I had never climbed El Capitan or any of the iconic walls in Yosemite and I had certainly never base jumped or free soloed anything.
I first heard about the 7 in 7 that day, an idea Ammon and the late Brian McCray had thought up during their down time while working as production riggers. They would hang in the ceilings and think of ideas for brutal big wall pushes and heinous link-‐ups. Ammon pondered how possible it was and I just laughed, questioning his sanity.

What I see now was that Ammon’s idea was about a lot more than climbing 7 routes, it was about attacking an impossible idea, finding out where the limits were: how far, how fast, how big can you go. It was an idea that created adventure and challenge, it was about playing a game that brings
the adventure back into climbing on a cliff where all the first ascents are done and the outcome is known.
Years later after becoming a friend and climbing partner of Ammon’s, he told me that when he started speed climbing it was a search for new adventure. He had reached a point with big wall climbing where the outcome seemed predetermined. You walk to the base with tons of stuff and you go up. You whack, pound and battle your way to the top and then several days later you
summit. There was minimal question of the outcome, so long as you persevere and suffer, you will summit. Because of this feeling of guaranteed outcome, speed climbing was born.
It started with Royal Robbins insisting on a ground up style; Bridwell, Westbay and Long dropped the bags and lightened the load the for the first one day ascent of the El Capitan via the Nose. Then guys like Ammon, Ivo and Brian and Dean brought new tactics, combining rope soloing and
traditional wall climbing thus creating Short fixing for continuous upwards progress. They chased First One Day Ascents and speed ascents on the biggest and hardest routes. It was a modification to the big wall climbing game, a way to introduce new adventure and so the spirit of climbing was
reborn for these men.
That adventurous spirit has been at the heart of climbing forever and it has always been the game on El Capitan. After descending to Manure Pile Buttress on our third day of the 7 in 7, we ran into the legendary Ron Kauk at the parking area. I teased him for the terrible route he had established
in 1977, New Jersey Turnpike, now an obscurity due to its location in the poor black diorite, its poorly protected A4 pitches and run-‐out free climbing, a nightmare for most big wall climbers. Ron apologized for the dangerous, unprotected final pitches where he had climbed nearly 150 feet
with only a single protection bolt, Alex had easily navigated the pitch without concern.

But Ron had recognized the bigger objective of our 7-‐day mission, to bring back the adventure and explore the unknown. He described it as “looking for our experience up there” and reflected on how it was similar to when he, Dale Bard, Bruce Hawkins and Hugh Burton had walked to the
base of what would soon be New Jersey Turnpike and set out on a quest to find a new route and hopefully the summit. Alex and I had embarked on an adventure to push our limits physically and to challenge our skills. To see if we could streamline big wall climbing into a smooth and fluid event that could flow day in and day out until the breaking point.
So, 7 years after I first glimpsed the idea of the 7 in 7, Alex and I had set out to make it happen. We used our unique skill sets, Alex’s ability to free climb and my knowledge of aid climbing. We had challenged ourselves on several objectives together over the last two years: Lunar Eclipse, The West Buttress and most recently the infamous Excalibur, among others. As we hiked off the
summit after our 16 hour 10 minute first one-‐day ascent of the “alligator route” I had told Alex about the 7 in 7 idea. He smiled and his eyes lit up, and our next adventure began.
The Rundown (Click on the name of the route to see its topo):
• The New Jersey Turnpike -‐12 hours 28 minutes (New Speed Record)
• Tangerine Trip -‐9 hours 24 minutes (New Speed Record)
• Eagles Way -‐7 hours 56 minutes (New Speed Record)
• The Nose -‐5 hours 16 minutes
• Lurking Fear -‐5 hours 5 minutes
• The Zodiac -‐5 hours 5 minutes
• The Triple Direct -‐5 hours 15 minutes (New Speed Record)

In total we climbed 173 guidebook pitches and roughly 16,500 feet of climbing. We averaged 21 minutes per pitch over the whole week.

This is a list of all known speed records in Yosemite Valley. Times are reported in hour:minute format except for selected records that are listed in hour:minute:second. First one day ascents (FOD) and solo records are listed for selected routes. Please submit corrections, new/unlisted records to erik@yosemitebigwall.com.

2015 New Speed Records:

Ten Days After, Washington Column  6:48 July 2015 – Roger Putnam, Justin Jendza

Salathe Wall, El Capitan 18:35 October 25, 2015 – Libby Sauter, Alix Morris(Women’s Speed Record)

Aquarian Wall, El Capitan 18:25 June 22, 2015 – Dave Allfrey, Ben Doyle, Luke Holloway

Ten Days After, Washington Column  15:52 (Solo) July 2015 – Ken Kreis

Waterfall Route, El Capitan 11:22 Oct 11, 2015 – Brandon Adams, Joe Marley

 

2014 New Speed Records:

Lurking Fear, El Capitan 7:47 September 2014 – Libby Sauter, Quinn Brett (Women’s speed record)

El Corazon, El Capitan 15:30 September 2014 – Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold

Triple Direct, El Capitan 5:15 June 2014 – Alex Honnold, Dave Allfrey

Triple Direct, El Capitan 17:29 July 14, 2014 – Hans Florine (Solo)

Muir Wall, El Capitan 12:00 September 2014 – Alex Honnold, Josh McCoy (Free via Shaft var.)

Grape Race, El Capitan 8:21 August 2014 – Roger Putnam, Erik Sloan

The Nose, El Capitan 4:43 October 2014 – Libby Sauter, Mayan Smith-Gobat (Women’s record)

The Nose, El Capitan 24:39 October 2014 – Chantel Astorga (Women’s Solo Record)

Tangerine Trip, El Capitan 9:28 June 2014 Alex Honnold, David Allfrey

New Jersey Turnpike 12:24:02 June 2014 – David Allfrey, Alex Honnold (Started on first 2 pitches of El Niño)

Zenyatta Mondatta, El Capitan 16:53 – October 2014 Skiy DeTray, David Allfrey, Cheyne Lempe

Eagle’s Way, El Capitan 7:56 June 2014 – Alex Honnold, David Allfrey

Good Ol’ Boy, Camp 4 Wall 12:00 May 2014 – Jon Griffin, Ryan Baker, Erik Sloan

Direct North Face, Porcelain Wall 13:39 August 2014 – Joe Marley, Dave Weintraub

El Capitan:

West Face 1:56:16 November 1999 – Hans Florine, Timmy O’Neil

8:16 June 2000 – Hans Florine (Two El Cap routes in a day solo!)

Mr. Midwest 7:40 July 2001- Hans Florine, Steve Schneider, Jacqueline Florine

Realm of the Flying Monkeys 9:59 July 1999 – Hans Florine, Peter Coward

Mirage 20:02 October 1995 – Steve Gerberding, Dave Bengston, Al Swanson

Lurking Fear 3:04:54 May 2003 – Yuji Hirayama, Nick Fowler

9:20 June 2000 – Hans Florine (Two El Cap Routes in a day solo!)

7:47 September 2014 – Libby Sauter, Quinn Brett (Women’s record)

Lost World/Squeeze Play 23:29 July 2009 – Ammon McNeely, Ivo Ninov (FOD)

West Buttress 7:01 April 2013 – David Allfrey, Alex Honnold

20:08 September 1996 – Kevin Thaw FOD

Octopussy 16:08 September 2013 – David Allfrey, Cheyne Lempe, Scott Deputy (FOD)

Never Never Land 16:00 August 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Chris McNamara

Aquarian Wall 23+ October 2000 – Steve Schneider, Greg Murphy, Peter Coward

Horse Chute/Horse Play 20:39 October 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Chris McNamara (FOD)

Dihedral Wall 14:06 September 2002 – Steve Gerberding, Hans Florine (FOD /Hammerless)

Excalibur 16:10 September 1998 – Dave Allfrey, Alex Honnold

Salathe 4:55 May 2012 – Alex Honnold, Sean Leary

18:35 October 2015 – Libby Sauter, Alix Morris

20:06 November 2013 – Cheyne Lempe (Solo)

16:00 June 2000 – Tommy Caldwell (Free)

El Corazon 15:30 September 2014 – Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold

Son of Heart 29:24 September 1993 – Hans Florine, Steve Schneider, Peter Coward

Sunkist 19:24 July 1999 – Hans Florine, Steve Schneider, Mark Melvin (FOD)

Magic Mushroom 20:02 May 2008 Tommy Caldwell (Free)

Flight of the Albatross 14:50 July 2001 – Hans Florine, Brian McCray, Kelly Simard

The Shield 10:58 August 1999 – Chris McNamara, Cedar Wright

Muir Wall 12:00 September 2014 – Alex Honnold, Josh McCoy (Free via Shaft var.)

Triple Direct 5:15 June 2014 – Alex Honnold, Dave Allfrey

17:29 July 2014 – Hans Florine (solo)

Grape Race 8:21 August 2014 – Roger Putnam, Erik Sloan

The Nose 2:23:46 June 2012 Alex Honnold, Hans Florine

4:43 October 2014 – Libby Sauter, Mayan Smith-Gobat (Women’s speed record)

24:39 October 2014 – Chantel Astorga (Women’s solo record)

5:50 July 2010 – Alex Honnold (Solo Triple – Nose, Half Dome, Watkins in a day solo)

Tribal Rite 19:48 October 2011- Skiy DeTray, Kevin Prince, David Allfrey

New Dawn 23:50 October 1999 – Damian & William Benegas

Reticent Wall 34:57 July 2006 – Ammon McNeely, Dean Potter, Ivo Ninov

Mescalito 23:28 October 1998 – Russ Mitrovitch, Dean Potter, Jose Pereyra

Wall of Early Morning Light 23:43 – September 2004 Ammon McNeely, Brian McCray (FOD)

Pacific Ocean Wall 33:02 May 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Ivo Ninov

North America Wall 9:36 September 1999 – Miles Smart, Timmy O’Neil

Wyoming Sheep Ranch 29:31 October 1999 – Russel Mitrovitch, Eric George, Sean Leary

New Jersey Turnpike 12:24:02 June 2014 – David Allfrey, Alex Honnold (Started on first 2 pitches of El Niño)

Atlantic Ocean 23:38 August 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Brian McCray

Iron Hawk 30:42 May 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Cedar Wright

Native Son 23:53 May 2006 – Ammon McNeely, Ivo Nivov

Scorched Earth 22:28 October 2011 – Ammon McNeely, David Allfrey, Skiy DeTray

Aurora 23:55 July 1998 – Miles Smart, Brian McCray (FOD)

Tangerine Trip 9:28 June 2014 – Alex Honnold, David Allfrey

15:53 October 2002 – Nick Fowler (Solo)

Virginia 13:58 August 2012 – David Allfrey, Scott Deputy

Lost in America 18:04 August 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Brian McCray

KAOS 27:50 December 1999 – Eric George, Sean Leary, Jimmy Haden

Zenyatta Mondatta 16:53 October 2014 – Skiy DeTray, David Allfrey, Cheyne Lempe

Shortest Straw 12:20 October 2002 – Skiy DeTray, David Allfrey, Cheyne Lempe

Zodiac 1:51 October 2003 – Alex and Thomas Huber

Lunar Eclipse 11:22 September 2012 – Alex Honnold, David Allfrey

Born Under a Bad Sign 22:22 October 2002 – Ammon McNeely, Chris Van Leuvan

Plastic Surgery Disaster 21:37 June 2001 – Ammon McNeely, Brian McCray

Bad Seed 19:12 September 1998 – Hans Florine, Brian McCray, Wayne Willoughby (FOD/ With a disabled person)

Eagle’s Way 7:56 June 2014 – Alex Honnold, David Allfrey

On the Waterfront 17:07 July 1999 – Ammon McNeely, Skiy Detray (FOD)

Waterfall Route, El Capitan 11:22 Oct 11, 2015 – Brandon Adams, Joe Marley

Pressure Cooker 23:41 September 2004 – Ammon McNeely, Ivo Ninov (FOD)

Waterfall Route 18:28 October 1997 – Hans Florine, Steve Schneider, Peter Coward

Chinese Water Torture 17:15 October 1999 – Steve Schneider, Scott Stowe, Lance Allred

Dark Star 20:09 July 2002 – Steve Gerberding, Scott Cosgrove, Al Swanson (FOD)

East Buttress 1:30 September 1997 – Hans Florine, Abby Watkins

Camp 4 Wall:

Good Ol’ Boy 12:00 May 2014 – Jon Griffin, Ryan Baker, Erik Sloan

Yosemite Falls Wall:

Dante’s Inferno 15:00 October 1995 – Iaschan Rupp and ?

Lost Arrow Direct 8:00 1985 – John Middendorf, Dave Shultz

Arches Wall:

Royal Arches 0:52:06 May 2000 – Cedar Wright (Solo)

Bulging Puke 15:00 October 2004 – Bob Jensen, Jake Whittaker

Washington Column:

Southern Man 2:38 June 2001 – Jason Smith, Cedar Wright

South Face 0:53 September 2012 – Alex Honnold, Sean Leary

Skull Queen 2:59 June 2000 – Ammon McNeely, Cedar Wright

Re-Animator 11:56 June 1999 – Chris McNamara, Jacob Schmitz

The Prow 3:01 June 2000 – Jason Smith, Cedar Wright

6:31 October 1999 – Willie Benegas (Solo)

Ten Days After 15:30 October 1995 – Erik Sloan, Spencer Pfingsten

15:52 July 2015 – Ken Kreis

Mt. Watkins:

South Face 2:20 June 2012 Alex Honnold (Solo)

Quarter Dome:

Pegasus 6:00 May 1994 – Greg Murphy, Chandlee Harrell (Quarter Dome and Half Dome in a day)

Half Dome:

Regular Northwest Face 1:22 June 2012 – Alex Honnold (Solo)

Direct Northwest Face 8:20 June 1998 – Dean Potter, Jose Pereyra

11:25 September 1999 – Miles Smart (Solo)

Tis-sa-ack 14:00 July 2000 – Jake Whittaker, Sean Kriletich

The Jet Stream 18:50 October – 1999 Eric George, Russ Mitrovitch, Jared Ogden

Porcelain Wall:

Direct North Face 13:39 August 2014 – Joe Marley, Dave Weintraub

Liberty Cap:

Southwest Face sub 8hrs 1985 – Dave Shultz, John Middendorf

Sentinel:

Steck-Salathé 0:44 1980s – Ron Kauk

Middle Cathedral:

East Buttress 0:29 October 2012 – Sean Leary (Solo)

Leaning Tower:

West Face 1:16 October 2012 – Alex Honnold, Sean Leary

3:37 January 2002 – Nick Fowler (Solo)

Wet Denim Daydream 2:55 June 2013 – Alex Honnold, David Allfrey

7:30 May 2002 – Nick Fowler (solo)

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