TO THE LIMIT’s climbing speed record broken


On August 22-28 we’ll be showing Pepe Danquart’s TO THE LIMIT, a documentary about the German climbing pair/brothers Thomas and Alexander Huber and their quest to set a new world record for climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan. From our description:

TO THE LIMIT is a visually breathtaking essay about daredevils hooked on the thrill of speed rock-climbing. World-class mountain climbers Thomas and Alexander Huber share an extraordinary depth of trust that has been forged by shared experiences scaling heights for as long as the brothers can remember. TO THE LIMIT captures their challenges in Patagonia and California, focusing on their attempt at breaking the speed record for climbing “The Nose” of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. The 3,000-foot ascent takes most mortals three days to complete; these guys aim to scamper up in 2 1⁄2 hours. The camera crew delivers epic landscapes and extreme sport climbing action, propelled by rock-solid determination and the exhilaration of reaching for a dream, overcoming fear and performing at the limit.

Well, today the news is that their record has been beaten! According to NPR, “Hans Florine, 44, and his climbing partner, Yuji Hirayama, 39, beat the record by a nail-biting two minutes.”

I haven’t seen TO THE LIMIT, but from the description it sounds like the film is more about what drives people to speed climb, rather than the competition for the record itself. Perhaps we’ll be seeing a new documentary soon about this new chapter in the sport. Could be some compelling stuff.

Here’s the complete story from NPR:

Climbers Reclaim World Record on El Capitan

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El Capitan

John McChesney/NPR

El Capitan is the largest monolith of granite in the world and a favorite of rock climbers.

The Nose of El Capitan

John McChesney/NPR

The American-Japanese climbing duo of Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama climbed the nose of El Capitan on Wednesday, with Hirayama leading.

Morning Edition, July 3, 2008 · Two men hauled themselves up to the nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in 2 hours and 43 minutes Wednesday, setting a world record for the granite giant in California that is an icon of world rock climbing.

Hans Florine, 44, and his climbing partner, Yuji Hirayama, 39, beat the record by a nail-biting two minutes.

People once thought it was impossible to scale the sheer cliff face, which rises more than 3,000 feet. Fifty years ago, Warren Harding set out to climb El Capitan. It took him 47 days of repeated assaults, but he finally made it.

Florine has now climbed El Capitan 68 times. He and Hirayama owned the record at 2 hours and 48 minutes, which they set in 2002.

Then two German brothers, Thomas and Alexander Huber, showed up and broke it in October. Their time: 2 hours and 45 minutes.

That prompted Florine and Hirayama to set about reclaiming their rightful place at the top, as it were.

On June 27, they climbed what’s called the nose route — straight up the middle — but missed their goal by 43 minutes.

“I think we could have gone faster,” Florine told the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. “I haven’t been getting as much rest as I would have liked. I think I need to come up early next time and get more sleep.”

They set out again on Sunday and missed by 2 1/2 minutes. Still, the American-Japanese climbing duo decided to try it again. If their latest attempt hadn’t succeeded, the men said, they would have returned in September for another go at reclaiming the record.

Compiled from NPR and San Francisco Chronicle reports.


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One Response to “TO THE LIMIT’s climbing speed record broken”

  1. ratzkywatzky Says:

    As I remember, Mr. Spock did it in just a few seconds.

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