ElCap Report Farewell Tour Special… Nose Solo Record 10/11/23

ElCap Report Farewell Tour Special…  Nose Solo Record 10/11/23
By Tom Evans

Today’s ElCap Report.. Written just for you…Unique in all the World!

Yo … It is still nice but with a little too much heat out there on the sunny Captain. However, we did have new solo record on the Nose today. Nick Ehman, knocked 1 hour 11 minutes off the 13 year old record set by Alex Honnold in 2010.  Alex set his record of 5:50 as part of a link up with Half Dome, which he did after the Nose.  Both climbers used a rope in places but mostly free soloed the route with occasional use of fixed and placed gear for aid and protection. Alex carried a full-length rope and did the route via the King Swing, while Nick opted for the Jardine Traverse variation and only took an 85ft line.  Hans Florine and the Huber brothers have said that there is little difference in the time either variation would require. Others disagree, saying that having to carry a full length rope and do the King Swing is more time consuming than the Jardine and that the King Swing variation is the traditional route taken for all record attempts. They have a point but it would not account for a 1 hour 11minute difference in the times....so..... you make the call!


I was not forewarned that Nick was going to make a run at the record… although the scuttlebutt is that Nick had done the route, various ways, some 15 times this season, and had privately expressed his desire to solo the route.  His exceptional diet of meat, salt, and water seems to have given him unusual strength and endurance and he took no water or food on this run up the route.  Our local vegetarians were dumbfounded! 

I arrived a little after 9am and took the first pic of Nick at 9:30 on the dot.  At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, as I could see no partner for him and looked all over the place for one.  Then I squinted into the viewfinder and notice the end of his rope was hanging free… Ahhh… now it made sense!  My initial shots were of him on the Jardine traverse and there were several climbers at that belay watching him.  He climbed to the second bolt and fixed his line to it and the next bold and then free climbed across the rest of the traverse.  At the end of that short section, he retrieved his rope and continued up the long corner, with some mixed climbing, past Eagle Ledge and onto the Lynn Hill Traverse.  He used the bolts for some aid, I think, and was soon crossing the Gray Bands. He quickly arrived at the Great Roof where another party was on the pitch. In fact, he had climbed the pitches to the roof, from the Jardine Traverse, in the time the leader of the team on the roof, had been on that pitch. He patiently climbed the roof pitch, taking some time to aid parts of the pitch as the other leader had taken up the good placements ahead of him. He emerged from the roof and appeared to exchange a greeting with the climber at the belay.  

By now several of Nick’s friends, and mates on SAR, had arrived in support of his efforts and I offered them close-up looks at him on my camera screen.  Every one was psyched and a nervous excitement ran through the group.  Nick launched onto the Pancake Flake and practically bat-maned up the lower section, free solo. However, when he reached the short part, above the triangular ledge, he broke out the aiders and some gear and aided part of that section.  I am sure he knew that Hans had taken his bad fall there and was in no hurry to pass that section.  Pass it he did, and stopped at the belay to fix his line in a circular loop thru a bolt there.  He then proceeded up the next pitch. This pitch has been the scene of some spectacular plunges for the likes of Thomas Huber, Hayden Kennedy, and Scot Deputy and Nick was not about to take it lightly.  With the loop fashioned he could still take a big fall but one that was survivable should it occur.  With this system he would not have to go back down the pitch to untie the rope.  The pitch went as he planned and he was soon off to the upper regions above Camp V.  For a time, he was not very visible inside the corners, which blocked our view of the Changing Corners and he only came into full view as he passed the Alcove.

Soon enough he was at the Wild Stance and quickly dispatched the sweet crack up to the start of the Harding Bolt ladder, leading to the top. I don’t think he had used the rope since the pitch above Pancake Flake and he didn’t on the last section either.  Soon he was off the bolts and heading to the tree that is the traditional end of the route. We all hooted and called up to him as he finished the route.  We were probably more exhausted than he was!  The time of 4:39 was phoned down to us and our little group soon dispersed. He met some other climbers on top and did get some water from them. All in all, it went off very well and we were all surprised at the amazing time he recorded, and a celebration was in order at the SAR site that night.

There were other climbers on the cliff this day so I included shots of some of them.

1) The other climbers present watched Nick work his way across the Jardine Traverse… notice his rope fixed to some bolts.


2)  After some delicate moves Nick powered through the difficult section and returned to untie his belay.


3) Nick grabbed the old sling off the bolt in the center of the Lynn Hill Traverse and moved smartly along up to the traverse ledges.


4) As Nick climbed the Great Roof he was somewhat hindered by the rope and gear in the crack from the previous leader but used only his own gear to advance.


5)  As he passed the edge of the Great Roof I think he exchanged greetings with the leader there but I have not asked him about it.


6) Nick busting it out on the Pancake Flake.


7)  At the notorious pitch above the Pancake Flake Nick took his time and fashioned a circular belay and proceeded with caution. Here he is seen at the end of the section he wanted to protect, and is untying the end of the loop enabling him to proceed without returning to the belay.


8) Nick is seen here start of the Harding Bolt Ladder which he mounted without protection and was soon off to the top.


9) Other climbers were also on the great cliff today and this is Marek climbing in the center of Bad Seed on some artistic looking rock.  He is a slow and steady type of climber on Yosemite granite.


10)  Another shot of Marek on spectacular rock.


11)  Blake and Dan are seen finishing up on Mescalito yesterday.


12)  Out west on Hole World, Luke Antonia is seen jugging on a long overhanging line in the center of the route.  His dad, Bruce, showed up to watch his progress and we had a good time talking Army while catching all the action on the Cap!


13)  I missed these guys in the glare and heat out west on Never, Never land and just recently spotted them, high on the route.


14)  As everyone knows… I never shoot Lurking Fear but just couldn’t resist this long shot of the second pitch.


In other news… it is smoky in the Valley now due to a controlled burn and a fire south of the Valley. I took the 11th off to shower and stock up on some needed provisions.  Hey … I can take one day off in 3 weeks! I really needed the shower!  The bad news is that the electric plug we depend on at the lodge has stopped working and we are all hanging our hopes on the one by the restroom door… OMG!

So that’s the way it is on this Wednesday, the 11th day of October, 2023.

Capt.Tom.. nice and clean for another 3 weeks!

Thanks Tom!

Super happy to read this from my cubicle. And the pictures are insane! Way to go Nick Ehman.