A day with no appointments, just walkin’ the floor like Ernest Tubs in love. Though I’m always on the defense against seduction, attempting to avoid the plight of Ernest. More Google today. The nosy beast from Mountain View put on a presentation by Tommy Caldwell covering his and Honnold’s El Capitan speed record. Super interesting.
I’ve got a bit of background on the Big Stone; could directly relate. Caldwell got into the ethics of speed climbing vs safety, and described some of the techniques they use. Such as “short fixing” that involves the leader tying off the rope so the second can keep pace by jumaring the anchored-fixed portion of the rope, while the leader climbs like a vertical sprinter towing a big loop of slack, which I suppose they could tie off for sections where a fall was more likely.
The El Cap speed climbing thing is intriguing from an ethics standpoint (as is mountaineering in general). With no governing body, yet careers resting on breaking records, one wonders if things could become contentious (or perhaps already are, while being well hidden by PR people?). For example, how much fixed gear is on the route. Case in point: Caldwell said the King Swing pendulum maneuver (a famous move on the Nose route) takes them about eleven minutes to get through — a huge amount of time when the entire ascent takes two hours. What if another party on the wall placed a fixed rope on the swing anchor and the speed climbers used it to simply rappel through the pendulum? Or what if the route had a dozen more pieces of fixed gear, than it did during your competitor’s attempt? Or, how about 6-foot long loops of sling material left on fixed anchors such as those of the famous final bolt ladder just below the top?
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.