ElCap Report 10.21.17 New Nose Record

ElCap Report 10/21/17 New Nose Record

By Tom Evans

Yo… It was a cold and dark morning in Camp 4 and I didn’t really want get up… but Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds seemed to be on the cusp of finally sending the Nose, in record time.  This was to be their 11th run up the route and since their last run had broken the 2:30 barrier I figured this just might be their day… so I went to the café around 6:30, gagged down a greasy breakfast, and headed down to the meadow.  I arrived to find that …the story continues below…

Today’s ElCap Report..written just for you..unique in all the world!

1)  Arrival at the meadow confirmed my worst fears… it was really cold and the air was full of smoke, making shooting the lads impossible until at least some sun got on the route.  The frost covered, foggy meadow looked beautiful enough but it spelled doom for photographing most of the climb.



























2)  The climb started at 6:55 and a spunky group of local YOSAR people, and friends of the lads, quickly assembled and began to cheer and yell up at the team, as much to keep warm as anything!  Any excuse was enough to get everyone jumping about and screaming at the top of their lungs.  Danny, maybe Dani, Jim’s girlfriend had a shrill, penetrating scream that put the rest of us to shame.



























3)  After a time, the sun hit the top of the Wall of the Early Morning Light, promising the warmth of the new day.





























4)   I took a few shots of ElCap as the sun rose and it became obvious that shooting the climbers was not possible with the present lighting conditions.





























5)  The men climbed, as best we could see, at a steady but hurried pace.. they even looked fast, which is not common for these kind of climbs.  I took a ton of shots anyway, hoping to be able to edit out the smoke and haze.  Unfortunately, I had no real success and ended up deleting most of the shots.  Here is a shot of Jim doing the King Swing.. the best of the deep shade shots.






























6)  We kept a close watch on the time and soon realized that the men were in fact really moving fast and were hitting all the marks at excellent times.  At 8am the sun hit the pitch leading up to Camp 4 and I was able to get a few shots.  This one is of Jim climbing the pitch into Camp 4.




























7)  Brad was right behind Jim getting to Camp 4.





























We didn’t see the men much after the Great Roof, and we barely could make them out there.  Above, the heavy shadows and smoke kept them out of view most of the time.  We got a peek at them every now and then, when the smoke thinned out a bit.  We mostly chatted, played with the kids and did everything we could to stay warm.  Personally, I get nervous at these speed climbs as they are exceptionally dangerous and worry-some.  All I really wanted was for the men to get down safe and sound, record or not.  By the time they got to the last two pitches we knew that they had a great time going and would get the record if only they could avoid any delays, like a stuck rope or a dropped sling or any number of other things that could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


The next several shots show the team on the final part of the route.

8)  Jim had short fixed Brad to the Wild Stance, at the base of the last section, and Brad came up still busting up the rope like he had just started on the climb!





























9)  As soon as Brad passed the belay it was an all-out race for the top.  Mostly they were climbing without belaying at this point with the odd bolt clipped, but only in passing.






























10)  Their tactic on the last pitch would be their way to the record time.  Instead of the second belaying and waiting for the leader to clear the pitch, they climbed together, at times almost touching each other.






























11)  We knew that they had a record time going but now saw the possibility of them breaking the 2:20 barrier.





























12)  Nearly finished… we below were screaming at the top of our lungs as were people scattered around the meadow.






























13)  Soon they were nearing the top and passed from view.  Then the waiting would begin for us.  What was their time?  When will they get on the phone and let us know?  Soon the word came down… 2 hours 19 minutes 44 seconds was the new record!



























14)  A few of us hung around in the cold to wait for them to come down and hear their tale first hand.  It wasn’t too long until I saw them walking out to my tree to share their excitement with those who remained there.  Congratulations and hugs all around.






























15)  This simple pile of gear was what it took to climb one of the greatest climbs on the planet in a little over two hours.  Amazing!



























So, the new record climb is in the books and we await the response from the previous record holders.  For me, I felt the relief I always feel when the climbers are on the ground safe and sound.  Remember, this competition, if you can call it that, is extremely dangerous and disaster is only the slightest slip away.  I would like it if this was the last record climb of its kind… but realize that is not the way of things here.. others will want to try their hand at this endeavor and we can only hope they will have their time in the sun and return to us well and happy, as those in the past have done.

So that’s the way it is, on this Saturday, the 21st day of October, 2017.

Capt. Tom… finally warm, at the Mountain Room Bar.. just for you.

Update... 11/27/2019   Terrible news came today from Mexico... Brad was killed in a reppelling accident on this day.  Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during these hard times.

13 minutes of Brad and Jim's speed record

Thanks for the nice photos and account from The Meadow, Tom! Brad and Jim passed us on Dolt Tower on 10/21 when they were setting the new speed record. I just uploaded a 13-minute video of them climbing and a short blog post about what it was like to watch. For a glimpse from the wall, check it out at https://www.remyfranklin.com/13-minutes-of-the-nose-speed-record/
Congrats guys!


These boys ran past us twice when we were on The Nose a couple of weeks before, on our first and last day. Totally impressive and mesmerising to watch. Good job! All the hard work paid off. Enjoy your achievement!

Thanks for the report

Wishing Brad & Jim congrats & all the best. Hoping for the best for Quinn Brett, https://www.youcaring.com/quinnbrett-980578 . Tom appreciate you sharing your perspective on the risk of this endeavor.

Gobright and Reynolds Speed Climb

Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful post Tom. Felt like I was there! I too breathed a sigh of relief when I got the news. Safe and Sound...
Pam Gobright - AKA proud worried mom.

King Swing

Now done from that low? We did it from the toe of the boot.


From Tom... yeah me too... but that intermediate fixed pin out in front of the toe is long gone and now it is just one big swing.  It was originally done as a double swing as I did in 1971.  Much harder now.