A climber who two years ago set a speed record for ascending the Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, has died in an rappelling accident.
Brad Gobright, 31, was simul-rappelling on El Sendero Luminoso at El Potrero Chico in Mexico on Wednesday with his climbing partner Aiden Jacobson, 26.
When Jacobson rappelled off the end of an 80-meter rope with no knot and dropped to a ledge below, it unbalanced the system and sent Gobright into a freefall, according to a Costa Rican climber who was three pitches above them.
Gino Negrinni said the pair were sharing a rope on the seventh pitch of the 15 on the face of the El Toro formation that afternoon and he heard screams from his position 100 meters above.
Brad Gobright, 31, was semi-rappelling on Wednesday in Mexico with Aiden Jacobson, 26, who rappelled of an 80-meter rope, causing Gobright to fall too. Jacobson fell to the fifth pitch but Gobright continued falling past
El Sendero Luminoso at El Potrero Chico in Mexico reaches a whopping 1,500ft
Gobright had been climbing since he was seven and in 2017 set a speed record for ascending the difficult Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park
Negrinni said he and his climbing partner saw the two drop to the fifth pitch and went down to help Jacobson.
Jacobson suffered no serious injuries, Rock & Ice magazine reported.
The rope was also on the fifth pitch but Gobright was not and it was assumed he continued falling down to an area known as the Skull Ampitheatre.
Gobright had landed in Mexico a few days before and was collected from the airport by Joel Heriberto Guadarrama Garcia. Who received details of the accident from Negrinni.
‘I arrived with Brad in Potrero at 3:40 in the afternoon and Brad just dropped his bag, and fifteen minutes later went and free soloed Yankee Clipper,’ Garcia told Rock & Ice.
Gobright had been climbing since he was seven years old and is one of the few who have climbed the Salathé Wall free in a single day.
In June 2015 he made the first free ascent of The Heart Route with Mason Earle.
With Scott Bennett he climbed Zodiac, The Nose and Lurking Fear in less than 24 hours in 2016.
In October 2017 he set a speed record for ascending the Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, one of the world’s most technical and dangerous verticals.
Gobright and climbing partner Jim Reynolds raced up the nearly 90-degree, 2,900-foot precipice in just two hours and 19 minutes.
Alex Honnold – the only person to free solo El Capitan – said he was ‘sad’ and the climbing world lost a true light’
Gobright and climbing partner Jim Reynolds (left) raced up the nearly 90-degree, 2,900-foot precipice of El Capitan in just two hours and 19 minutes
The pair, from California, broke the previous record set in 2012 by four minutes. That record was set by Alex Honnold – the only person to free solo El Capitan.
Honnold said he was ‘sad’ and the climbing world lost a ‘true light’.
He posted an Instagram tribute to Gobright, calling him a ‘warm, kind soul – one of a handful of partners that I always loved spending a day with’.
‘I suppose there’s something to be said about being safe out there and the inherent risks in climbing but I don’t really care about that right now,’ Honnold continued.
‘I’m just sad for Brad and his family. And for all of us who were so positively affected by his life. So crushing. Brad was a real gem of a man. For all his strengths and weaknesses (like his insanely strong fingers, or living out of a Honda Civic…) at the core he was just a good guy.’
Emily Harrington was climbing with Alex Honnold on El Capitan on Sunday. She fell but was harnessed into ropes so escaped with some scratches and cuts.
Gobright spoke about safety after he beat Honnold’s record.
‘The big thing that Jim and I were worried about was that to some extent you have to kind of put safety behind you when you’re trying to move that fast,’ Gobright said.
‘It requires a lot of focus, much more than a regular climb. Speed climbing requires your full attention.’
Gobright previously said about climbing El Capitan in record time: ‘To some extent you have to kind of put safety behind you when you’re trying to move that fast’
In the spring Gobright completed free ascents of The Shaft, El Niño Pineapple Express and Golden Gate in just one day
More than two dozen people had been killed on El Capitan since 1905. According to Ken Yager, the president and founder of the Yosemite Climbing Association, it typically takes three days to complete the ascent, which sits 7,569 feet above sea level.
Conditions were not ideal, with smoky air and the route crowded with climbers, according to Gobright.
To maximize their speed, the pair ditched camming devices meant to prevent falls and whatever weighty gear they could live without. They didn’t pack food or water.
About two hours in, Gobright said he could feel the smoke affecting his breathing. His throat was scratchy and his mouth was dry.
Gobright said that when he and his partner reached the top, their family and friends were cheering them from the ground below. Five minutes later he received a text message from the previous record holder, Hans Florine. He was sending his congratulations.
Florine and Alex Honnold climbed the Nose route in two hours and 23 minutes in June 2012. Florine has set eight speed records for his climbs up the Nose since 1990.
Gobright said he finally realized he could be a contender for the speed record when and Reynolds climbed the nose a year and a half ago.
‘Before Jim and I were trying to go for the record, we’d just do it fast so we’d have time to do more climbs before the sun went down,’ he said.
‘Thinking we could try for the record seemed crazy at first. It was this really big, big goal that seemed kind of out of reach. I think that’s why we wanted to do it.’
Last year they did the Yosemite Triple – Mt Watkins, El Cap and Half Dome – in a day.
In the spring Gobright completed free ascents of The Shaft, El Niño Pineapple Express and Golden Gate in just one day.
Emily Harrington was climbing with Alex Honnold on El Capitan on Sunday. She fell but was harnessed into ropes so escaped with some scratches and cuts