Scaling The Sheer Cliffs Of Yosemite's El Capitan
For most of us scaling the peak of Yosemite's , El Capitan once in our lifetime, would be achievement enough - but not for speed climber Hans Florine. He has been climbing the sheer cliff over and over again since 1991, trying to out do himself each time - and Sunday was no exception.
Hans and his partner Yuji Hirayama from Japan , speed climbed the 'Nose' to the top in 2hrs, 37 minutes and 5 seconds, breaking their own record set in July of this year, by almost six minutes.
Hans Florine, nicknamed Hollywood Hans, is a professional speed climber who has won three gold medals in the X-Games Speed Climbing competitions. Besides being the fastest man to climb El Capitan, he also holds the record of being the only man to have climbed it three times in one day. Yikes! His partner in crime, Yuji Hirayama from Japan, is no slouch either. A world-famous, all around rock climber, he has been ascending the highest peaks in Japan for over a decade now. He first partnered with Hans to climb the EL Capitan in 2002, when they broke the then existing record, set by two German brothers.
Cheered on by friends and family, Sunday's climb was led by Hirayama, while Florine belayed (managed and controlled the safety rope attached to Hirayama), cleaned the equipment off the wall and climbed at the same time. This strategy, known as simul-climbing, is considered extremely difficult and risky, as a slip by Florine could have dragged Hirayama down. However, the two experienced climbers obviously knew what they were doing and not only did they make it to the top in record time, they did it with style, each performing the famous El Capitan 'King Swing' - a 360-degree spin on a 80-90 ft rope pendulunm (see picture).
Yosemite Valley in California is world-famous for its spectacular natural rock formations. While the most famous and recognized one is Half Dome, it is the 3000ft El Capitan, the largest monolith of granite in the world, which draws the most daredevil climbers. It is so steep that it was once considered impossible to climb. It took the first set of climbers 47 days to reach the peak in 1958. While there are now many other routes to the top, it is the 'Nose' that attracts most climbers. Though it is not the hardest route to climb, it is considered to be the most physically challenging, due to the high altitude and changing temperatures along the way.
After the climb, both proclaimed that this was the last time they were climbing El Capitan. They believe however, that their current record will hold for at least for a few years. And then who knows?- the duo may be tempted to come and try beat it all over again!
Sources: Wikipedia.org, Sfgate.com