Women's El Cap Speed-Climbing Record Shattered
In one swoop, Mayan Smith-Gobat and Chantel Astorga shattered the women’s speed record for the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and completed the first female link-up of El Cap and Half Dome in 24 hours.
A few days earlier, the women did a practice run of the Nose that was half-an-hour faster than the previous record of 10 hours, 40 minutes. That record was established by Astorga and Libby Sauter in 2011.
On Sunday, Astorga and Smith-Gobat began their climb at 3:30 a.m. and reached the tree on top of El Capitan 7 hours and 26 minutes later, crushing the previous record by almost three hours.
The pace required not only excellent athleticism, but also a sketchy draw-out near the end.
On the last pitch, Smith-Gobat had nearly 100 feet of rope hanging free, wrote Tom Evans of ElCap Reports, who witnessed the event. A fall with that much slack could easily have been fatal.
Immediately after their ascent of the Nose, the women went to Half Dome, where they became the first all-female team to complete both climbs in a day. They completed the two routes in 20 hours and 9 minutes.
Smith-Gobat is New Zealand's most internationally prolific rock climber, and one of the best female climbers in the world. She is the only Australasian woman to have completed a 5.14b climb.
Chantel Astorga is an instructor and guide for the American Alpine Institute. She leads trips in the Cascades, Red Rock, the Sierra, and Alaska.