Sports & Gaming

Achieving Flow: The Nose Speed Record

Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Lesson time 06:01 min

In this lesson, you’ll learn about flow state and how it helped Alex and Tommy break the Nose speed record.

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Topics include: Achieving Flow: The Nose Speed Record •


- It's true that, you know, we've each had transcendent experiences climbing from time to time, but it's relatively infrequent. And, I mean, really, that's a lot of what you spend your whole climbing life looking for are those transcending experiences. It's like you spend all your time training, and preparing, and seeking out certain challenges to have those brief moments of real flow. [MUSIC PLAYING] Flow state is, you know, this optimal state of being when you sort of lose track of time and are fully immersed in activity. - It only comes when all of you is required. You experience, like, this lightness, this surrealness, this sort of transcendence. You know, there's probably been only four or five times in my life where I've achieved what I consider to be true flow state. - Really? That for you? - I mean, I think there's different degrees of it. But there's like kind of optimal flow state, but then there's, like, there's lesser examples of it. - You don't think, like, when you're climbing your hardest sport routes and things, you think you're in sort of a lesser flow state? - I mean, generally, when I'm climbing my hardest sport routes, it's kind of a disaster. I'm, like, barely stretching my way up the route, and it definitely doesn't feel like flow state. - What climbing experiences feel, like, the most flowy to you? - I mean, maybe on the nose speed record. Like, by the end of it, it was like-- I just felt like things were flowing so incredibly well. And it created, like, this excitement inside of me that was, like, you're like, I can't believe this is actually happening right now. That feels like flow state. [MUSIC PLAYING] The nose of El Capitan is a prominent line straight up the center of the wall. It was the first route climbed on El Cap. It's very historic. And actually, it's one of the most sought after climbs in the world. And there's a long standing speed record on the nose that really runs back to the mid '70s when it was first climbed in a day. And since then, various climbers have consistently one upped to each other and consistently improved their times in climbing the nose. I dove into the speed record game in 2012 with another partner, a friend of mine, Hans Florin, who had held the speed record on and off for more than a decade. I don't know. 15 years. He was very serious about the speed record on the nose. And so I learned a ton from him. And then after we set the speed record of two hours and 27 minutes, he sort of retired from the game a little bit. And then our record was eventually broken. And so then I had to recruit Tommy to take it back. And I personally felt like it was possible to go below two hours. It's like breaking the four-minute mile or something. Or breaking a two hour marathon is maybe more comparable where it's just like, it makes sense to try to climb that big wall in under two hours. So I personally was hoping to climb the nose...

About the Instructor

With more than 60 combined years of elite rock climbing experience, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell have scaled some of the largest—and most extreme—walls in the world. Now, the stars of Free Solo and The Dawn Wall are teaming up to share their tried-and-true techniques for tackling any wall. From the fundamentals of footwork and body and hand positioning to mental exercises and advanced holds and movements, you’ll learn how to take on new challenges and push yourself further on and off the wall.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Stars of “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall” Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell teach lessons from more than 60 years of combined rock climbing experience.

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