The Best Speed Climbers Dash up Walls With a Time-Saving Move

WIRED | 4/26/2019 | Robbie Gonzalez
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At the base of an indoor climbing route he has scaled hundreds of times, Jordan Fishman clips a carabiner to his climbing harness, dusts his hands with chalk, and readies himself for liftoff. With all ten fingers he clutches the first hold and leans back to extend his arms, twists his torso to bring his right hip against the wall, plants the ball of his left foot on a pedal on the floor behind him, and cranes his neck to stare at his target: a circular button nearly fifty feet overhead. A bystander counts him down: "Three... two... one... go!"

Fishman launches his body up and to the left. As his foot leaves the pedal, a giant, wall-mounted stopwatch begins to run. It takes Fishman just eight and a half seconds to hurl his body up the 15-meter route, slap the sensor at its apex, and stop the timer.

Base - Wall - Climber - Alex - Honnold

I am standing, astounded, at the base of the wall. With me is professional climber Alex Honnold. Best known as the subject of the Oscar-winning film Free Solo, which documented his ropeless ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan, Honnold is equally renowned in the climbing community for scaling vertiginous cliffs at palm-sweat-inducing speeds; in June 2018, almost a year to the day after free soloing El Cap, Honnold and fellow climber Tommy Caldwell set an all-time speed record of 1:58:07 on El Cap’s Nose route, a 3000-foot high, 31-pitch route that takes many climbers two or more days to complete.

Honnold, in other words, is a speed climber of a different sort. The way he ascends big walls is more akin, physiologically, to running a marathon. What Fishman does on the 15-meter indoor speed wall is more like the 100 meter dash. Regardless, game recognize game. "Pretty classic," Honnold says with a smile, as Fishman...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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