Mountain Hardwear athlete Cheyne Lempe, along with climbing partner Dave Allfrey, completed a single day link-up of three of Yosemite Valley’s biggest walls. The team climbed the South Face of Mt. Watkins, The Nose on El Capitan, and the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome in a mind blowing 22 hours and 59 minutes.
We sat down with Cheyne and asked him a couple of questions about the Triple Crown and climbing in The Valley. Read the interview below. [All photos by Cheyne Lempe]
Tell us a little about the history of the Triple Crown. How did this goal first capture your imagination?
The dream is to be able to climb as much rock as possible in a single 24 hour block of time. The Triple Crown is the ultimate speed climbing goal, climbing the three biggest walls in Yosemite – El Cap, Mt. Watkins, and Half Dome – in a single day. The only people that have successfully completed the linkup are some of the best climbers in the history of Yosemite. Dave and I were inspired to learn from those guys how to climb efficiently enough to make it up all three walls.
Other Tripe Crown ascents are:
2001: Dean Potter and Timmy O’Neal in 21:37
2012: Alex Honnold Tommy Caldwell in 21:15 (free climbing all pitches and climbed Freerider instead of The Nose)
2012: Alex Honnold solo 18:50
What’s it like climbing such demanding routes at such a high speed? How are the systems and climbing styles different from a “normal” ascent?
When I first came to the valley four years ago, The Nose on El Cap took me over four days to complete. The route was unbelievably difficult, and I felt like I was climbing at my limit the entire time. Over the years spending a lot of time on the walls, I have slowly refined my technique and stretched my mental boundaries. Normally each one of these routes would take multiple days to climb. If a team is pretty quick, they can climb each one in a single day. You have to move extremely quickly and efficiently to climb all of them in a single day.
How important is the team dynamic on an ascent like this?
It’s only possible for me to climb big objectives with a great friends that I totally trust. You are ultimately holding each-other’s lives in your hands, and you build a deep connection. Missions like this where you are both digging deep and suffering…it’s critical to hold each other up to carry on.
Are routes and link ups like this the future of climbing in the Valley?
All of the best lines on the major formations have already been climbed in Yosemite. Speed climbing and linking up routes is a new challenge that introduces the possibility of failure and will ultimately advance the sport.
Follow Cheyne Lempe on Instagram for more photos @cheynelempe