Mayan Smith-Gobat and Chantel Astorga shatter women’s speed record on The Nose and...
On Sunday, September 23th, Mayan Smith-Gobat and partner Chantel Astorga climbed The Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in 7 hours 26 minutes, smashing previous women’s speed records. Not satisfied, the pair proceeded to climb Half Dome, becoming the first all-female team to link-up both walls in less than 24 hours.
Chantel Astorga and Mayan Smith-Gobat on the top of El Cap
(photo: John Dickey)
Sunday’s ascent of The Nose was the team’s second record-breaking run up the route in less than a week. Four days prior, Smith-Gobat and Astorga shaved 9 minutes off the 10 hour 26 minute record held by Jos Meiris and Brett Quinn.
“We arrived in the Valley on the evening of the 17th, then did a practice run up the Nose on the 19th,” said Smith-Gobat. “During this climb it felt like we made a ton of errors and we also had to pass 5 parties on the lower part of the wall. We both felt like we were going super slow and were very surprised when we reached the top in 10:10, setting a new record on our practice run!"
On the 23rd, after three days of preparation and rest, Smith-Gobat and Astorga started up El Capitan at 3:10 am in hopes of avoiding the sun. Topping out just before noon, the pair headed to Half Dome to climb the Regular Northwest Face, which they started at 4:25 pm.
By the time they finished the long approach, “tiredness was definitely setting in,” Mayan added. “We were moving slower than we had hoped, but still made the top at 11:19 pm – 20:09 hours after starting The Nose!”
Mayan Smith-Gobat while breaking women's speed record on The Nose
(photo: John Dickey)
For Mayan, the new records represent a culminating achievement after breakout year that included a free ascent of El Cap’s Salathé Wall (5.13b/8a) and a gear-protected ascent of China Doll to the first anchors (5.13d/8b). It also marks her first foray into world of Yosemite big wall speed climbing.
“Speed climbing is not really something I have ever really wanted to focus on,” she said. “However, I find the men’s speed record of around 2.5 hours incredible and I do enjoy the feeling of moving fast. I started becoming inspired to set a new women's speed record on the Nose when I was in the Valley last fall and discovered that the long-standing [women’s] speed record [12 hours 15 minutes at the time] was barely even speed climbing.”