New Solo Speed Record on the Salathé!

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Avant friend Brant Hysell, known for his Gravity Labs YouTube Channel, rope soloed the Salathe route on El Cap on May 11, 2024 in an impressive time of 19 hours and 57 minutes. This achievement shaved off a few minutes from Cheyne Lempe’s solo speed record set over ten years ago. With the increasing popularity of lead rope soloing, the question arises: how long will this record stand? At Avant, we’re excited for more solo action on El Cap! But first, let’s delve into what Brant learned during his ascent:

What did you end up using for a belay device? And, for cache management?

I used a Silent Partner hanging off my belay loop for the Salathe ascent, although I’ve previously utilized an unmodified GriGri for speed soloing El Cap with good results (such as Lurking Fear in 17 hours back in 2023). I generally used two Soft-Cinchers per pitch for bare minimum backfeed prevention. For cache management, I relied on a Micro-traxion also attached to my belay loop. However, in hindsight, I would opt to place the micro on my right gear loop for easier slack feeding. Additionally, I’d consider backing up the gear loop with a sling in case the blocker knots got sucked into the Micro-traxion during a fall. I’d hate to blow out a gear loop and loose precious cams way up the wall alone!


How did you practice this rope solo system for fast aid climbing? Had you been using this system for a while?

I have been practicing rope solo leading for a couple of years, mostly when I couldn’t find partners. I slowly built up from single pitch, then to 3 pitches, then 5, and then to Lurking Fear last year. It seems like I make small adjustments to my strategy every time I climb. There are so many variables. I’ve found it extremely important to always be in a learning mindset – pay attention to everything and question why you do it! There is often a better way.

Soloing El Cap in a day means tons of transitions between leading, rappelling, and jugging – did you do anything particular to save time with these transitions?

One crucial piece of advice I can offer is to establish a consistent system for when you complete a pitch and descend to get your bag. Consistency is key. For example, when rappelling, I don’t even clip in and out of the bottom anchor. I simply rappel down with my GriGri, grab my bag, and then transition directly to my jumars while still on rappel. I do the same thing every time. Minimizing the number of steps in every transition saves real time when multiplied across many pitches, streamlining the ascent.

Did you run into any system snags? What would you have changed if you did it again?

I wouldn’t change anything significant in overall tactics. I did forget to untie a backup knot which got caught on my anchor below, forcing me to rap mid pitch. But that lapse of focus only cost a few minutes.

Does this ascent leave you excited for more lead rope soloing? Or, ready for the simplicity of climbing with a partner?

I have to say both. In the short term I just want to go normal climbing with as little gear-faffing as possible! Simul-climbing moderate terrain sounds like a dream. However, I love the feeling of being high up with nobody there to turn to except myself. It’s fun figuring out where your own “limit” is, and trying to push it just a bit further.

Congrats Brant Hysell!!!