longs photo credit stefan
Photo credit: Stefan Griebel

Colorado Climbers Break 20-Year Speed Record on ‘Casual Route’

Dean Potter set the previous record in 1999.

Over 20 years ago, renowned free climber and base jumper Dean Potter set a speed climbing record of the Casual Route on Longs Peak — by free soloing in 3 hours 59 minutes. And until this week, the record remained totally untouched.

But on August 4, Colorado climbers Wade Morris and Stefan Griebel set a new record, conquering the 5.10- route trailhead to trailhead in 3 hours, 53 minutes, 59 seconds. To beat the record, Morris and Griebel simul-climbed, a practice often used in speed climbing in which both partners climb at the same time, placing and cleaning pro as both ascend.

“There aren’t many people I’d want to do it with in this style, with such a limited rack,” Morris said in an interview with Rock and Ice after the feat. “I think Stefan is the partner who I’ve simuled with most.”

wade morris and stefan griebel
Left: Wade Morris climbing the Casual Route; Right: Wade Morris and Stefan Griebel; photo credit: Alton Richardson.

‘The Casual Route’: Not Quite Casual

The route involves 10 miles of running and climbing — including 5,000 feet of vert and seven pitches on the East Face of Longs Peak, a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Both Griebel and Morris are seasoned climbers, and hold speed records on a few other routes as well.

In the sports of mountaineering, climbing, and running, athletes set new records — and break them — every single day. That’s why it’s so impressive for a speed record to stand in history for so long, especially at a destination as popular as this one.

If the Diamond isn’t right in your backyard (like it is for a few of our editors), here’s a little background. Climbers Duncan Ferguson and Chris Reveley made the first free ascent of the Casual Route on the Diamond in 1977 (except they named it the Integral Route).

The next year, climber Charlie Fowler free soloed it, boldly calling it a “casual” climb, and giving the infamous route a new name in the process. Then, Dean Potter set the incredible sub-4-hour free solo speed record in 1999.

And the rest is history.

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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, CO office. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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