Horseshoe Hell, the 24-Hour Climbing Marathon

Tommy Caldwell, Sonnie Trotter and others push through rain, darkness and heat to claim victory
Staff Writer

Rain, heat and darkness did not stop the 270 climbers who gathered in Arkansas’ Horseshoe Canyon Ranch for the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell event Sept. 28–29. 

The goal of the seventh-annual competition was to do as many routes as possible within 24 hours, with more points awarded for harder climbs. In a day of recreational climbing, an average athlete might take on between five to 15 routes.

That was just the warm up for these climbers.

Tommy Caldwell and Sonnie Trotter won the highest team score, climbing 302 routes, including 52 5.12s and 56 5.11s’s, for a total of 13,000 feet of vertical gain. The accomplishment is akin to climbing the empire state building nine times and even more impressive when you consider that the hardest routes in existence are rated at 5.15b.

Jeremy Collins and Nate Moore also had an impressive team win. Both climbers finished 155 routes.

Emily Cole, 16, won the women’s category at 133 routes and 5,530 feet of vertical climbing.

According to climbers, it was not the records that made the event, but the camaraderie, particularly as conditions became wetter.

“Some of my most memorable moments were climbing in the rain, topping out steep routes in full Chinese water-torture style, and screaming at the top of our lungs, encouraging each other to stick with it and stop being a baby!” Collins said. “My partner Nate was an inspiration and rockstar.”

Both Collins and Moore had debilitating muscle cramps within the first six hours and decided to switch from difficult climbs to easier climbs with a focus on speed.

For more on the event, check out the 24 HHH Facebook page for photos and stories.



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