El Capitan record attempt likely has to wait

Posted Nov. 16, 2011, at 5:27 p.m.

Last week, rock climbers Hans Florine and Alex Honnold ascended the famed Nose route on Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2 hours, 37 minutes, 30 seconds — just 45 seconds slower than the existing record of 2:36:45 set by Dean Potter and Sean Leary in November 2010.

Due to inclement weather and scheduling conflicts, the duo likely will have to postpone any future attempts until next summer.

Florine spoke about speed climbing after the attempt while promoting the Reel Rock Film Tour. See more about the films at reelrocktour.com.

Question: Are those 45 seconds going to linger with you?

Answer: In the best of ways, yes. It will linger with me. But 95 percent of that is positive. We have the knowledge and the confidence that we can go at that record pace. We always feel like we can be a little fitter. Our sport is pretty awesome in that it rewards experience like crazy. I’m 47 but don’t feel like I’m going downhill.

Q: I can’t imagine it’s easy to find a partner. How many people are even capable of climbing El Cap in under 3 hours?

A: At the risk of sounding too philosophical, I try not to seek the perfect partner but to be the perfect partner. And so when Sean and Dean broke the record, I started training like crazy even though I didn’t know who I’d be going up there with. … I talked to a couple people. But eventually, Alex, the perfect partner, revealed himself.

Q: What’s it like climbing with someone who’s 21 years younger?

A: It really gives me a love of the sport that someone my age can hang out, excuse the pun, with a 26-year-old and not bum him out that I’m too slow or incapable.

Q: You’ve held the Nose record seven times since 1990. When someone breaks it, you always get it back. Why is it so important to you?

A: The easiest answer is the credibility in the climbing community. I’ve found early on in my career when I travel to Europe that I was instantly recognized and substantiated as a credible climber. … I would show up in France, Spain, Italy or wherever and the local climbers would be like, “You’re Hans Florine? From the Nose? Wow!”

Q: Without getting too technical, can you describe some of the risks speed climbers take compared to normal rock climbers?

A: We are roped together at all times, and there is something attaching us to the wall as we go. … But where a normal climbing party might clip into an existing bolt or piton or place protection in a crack every seven feet or so, Alex and me do it about every 30 feet. So there’s four times the space between our gear placement, which means if one of us falls, odds are good it’s going to be a long one.

Q: Why is the Reel Rock Film Tour worth seeing?

A: One of the cool things about adventure sports is that, with technology, you can go with these people to all these wild locations. The point-of-view camera work really shows what these extreme activities are all about, and it’s something we’ve never been able to do before.