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Tagged ‘speed record‘

Ueli Steck Is Just A Dude.

Up at Mt Hood on Saturday evening, Taylor got a text from a connected friend: “Do you guys want to climb with Ueli Steck tomorrow?”

ueli steck signs belay card

Even if you climb thousands of meters ropeless, you still need to sign the belay card.

For those of you less familiar with Ueli: he is a Swiss alpinist best known for speed soloing the North face of the Eiger in 2 hours and 47 minutes. The film about the climb earned him the nickname “The Swiss Machine” for his relentless organization, drive, and power output. He is a two-time winner of the highest honor in climbing, and he recently completed a long-time project, making a first ascent on Annapurna and down-climbing the route solo in 28 hours.

Late Sunday morning, the climbing gym was busy, but not packed. Taylor and I threw on our harnesses and started to climb around, glancing with anticipation towards the door. Midway through a pitch, I heard Taylor call up to me: “He’s here!”

When I lowered off, sure enough, there was the guy I’ve seen in movies, in ads, and across the climbing internet. He was stooped over the iPad at the desk, filling out a waiver. Ushered by Heidi from the local American Alpine Club chapter, he headed to the locker room. He’s short. He’s not duck-footed, as I’d heard, but he does have bowlegs that would make a cowboy jealous. Returning from the locker room, he smiled his way through a perfunctory top-rope belay test with nervous laughter before tying in with the assistant manager, JB Graham, to take a lead test.

JB took a whipper onto Ueli’s belay while a gym member shyly backed-up the Swiss legend. After lowering JB, Ueli tied in and hiked an 11b as a warmup. Not one to miss out on the action, I walked over and started chatting with JB as Ueli lowered. Perfect timing: next thing I know, I’m making small talk with the man who speed soloed the Eiger in under three hours.

ueli steck belaying

JB takes Ueli and his flip-flops for a ride.

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Mt Rainier Speed Record Broken by Dorais Bros (3:57:55)

Yesterday, the Dorais brothers (good Salt Lake City ski mountaineering folks) blasted through their earlier time to set a new record on Mt Rainier.  This came on the heels of a recent update to that record on May 20th, which they demolished by 20 minutes. This new Mt Rainier speed record is not only impressive in its own right, but it also highlights how much more improvement is possible.  It is awesome and inspiring to see what these guys are up to.

Dorais brothers Mt Rainier Speed Record

The obviously psyched Dorais brothers celebrate a new Mt Rainier speed record. Image from Jason Dorais.

Worthy reads include Jason’s take, as well as Andy’s. The report of the May 20th record by Nick Elson can be found here.

It is time that the Pacific Northwest had its speed dialed up.  It’s my hope that we can do this from within the community, but if it takes first a bunch of Canadians and then some Utahns to spur us to action, then so be it.  I certainly will be thinking about these guys this weekend.