13 minutes of Brad and Jim’s speed record on The Nose

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“I f***ing hate The Stovelegs,” Brad panted as he clipped a sling to our anchor and dropped off the far side of Dolt Tower. “So brutal.” “They’re pretty fun if you clip gear,” Mike joked, to an abbreviated chuckle. Four minutes later Brad was almost two pitches up climbing 5.9 fists faster than I’ve ever seen someone crack climb. He was clearly in the zone, and he still hadn’t placed any gear since clipping our anchor 150 feet earlier.

This took place around 7:30am on October 21, 2017. The night before, when Mike and I were bivvying on Dolt Tower after our first of three days on The Nose, we talked to our friend Jake on the phone. “They’re going for it tomorrow,” he told us, referring to Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds’ attempt to set a new speed record up El Capitan’s most iconic route. We didn’t know Jim and Brad personally, but since we arrived in Yosemite three weeks earlier we had been hearing about their efforts from mutual friends. “They’ll probably pass you tomorrow morning before you start climbing,” Jake said encouragingly.

We knew they were coming before we saw them. As the sun slowly slid down from the rim of El Cap, we started hearing yells from the valley floor where the YOSAR crew and other friends and fans were gathered to watch. Sure enough, looking down the route we saw Brad cruising up The Stovelegs at an astonish pace. Ten minutes after Brad passed our bivvy on Dolt Tower, Jim flew by simul-climbing on the other end of a full-length rope.

I figured it would be impressive to watch the duo speed climbing, but I didn’t know exactly why. Reflecting on it later, I mostly felt inspired by the shear physicality of the whole thing. They weren’t just (essentially) free soloing thousands of feet of pretty challenging crack climbing, they were doing it fast. Both were breathing hard and sweating when they passed us, while we stood there with wool and down layers on waiting for the sun to warm our fingers. I saw no hesitation in their climbing, just a bold, practiced confidence supporting smooth, physical climbing. Even though I could tell they were suffering the way most of us do after a minute of hard sprinting, the freedom in their climbing style made it clear who was having more fun. We were trudging up El Cap while they were floating.

An hour and a half later, after re-packing our haul bag, racking up and letting a Nose-In-A-Day party pass us, Mike and I finally started climbing. I couldn’t help but notice that I put Mike on belay around 9:20am and we had woken up around 7:00. In the time it took us to wake up, make coffee, organize gear, take a poop and tie back in, Brad and Jim had climbed the entire Nose on El Capitan. Nice work, boys.

2 comments for “13 minutes of Brad and Jim’s speed record on The Nose

  1. Mary Reynolds
    November 10, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Remy and Mike…..Thank you so much for taking time to video and post this. As Jim’s Mama, I love that I can watch a portion of their historic climb and have visuals to accompany the story Jim shared with me. He said he climbed the entire time without stopping, and clearly in this clip, he moves along as quickly as possible. It’s also surreal to see the rope run out as Brad climbs up, up up! Hearing the rousing cheers of YOSAR & Tom Evans and friends from the Meadow makes me smile!

    I was cleaning up some of Jim’s things here at the house and discovered many postcards of El Cap, esp. the Nose, and I know how long this climb has fascinated him. Just so proud of both of them for accomplishing this Hurculean task and breaking a record that stood for over 5 years. Cheers, and much thanks…..

    • remysfranklin
      November 10, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks for your message, Mary! I’m so glad you got to see the video. We were lucky to be up there the day they broke the record – an incredible and inspiring undertaking. Congrats on having such an awesome son!

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