If you haven’t heard of Dani Arnold, you likely haven’t been spending much time on cliff faces around Europe. Even if you have, good luck keeping up with him: This 35-year-old Swiss climber has been setting free solo records across the Alps. He’s ascended four of Europe‘s six major north faces in record time—all without ropes. He notched his latest record-breaking free solo climb on Italy’s 1,800-foot Cima Grande in September, CNN reports.
Arnold, who’s sponsored by Swiss outfitter Mammut, sprinted to the top of the face in 46 minutes and 30 seconds, smashing the previous record by almost 20 minutes. For context, experienced climbers usually budget six to seven hours to climb the route, according to Rock and Ice. He completed the climb on Sept. 5.
Arnold grew up climbing in Switzerland and first got interested in free soloing while ice climbing. Since then, he’s been hooked, and he sees climbing sheer cliffs without ropes or safety gear as a unique mental challenge.
“It’s very much a head game,” he told CNN. “All the skills, like the climbing technique and all the endurance, these are basic for me.”
Before free soloing Cima Grande, Arnold climbed his chosen route, called Comici-Dimai, three times conventionally to get acquainted with the rock. He then broke the speed record on his first attempt to tackle the route without ropes. In an interview with CNN, Arnold explained that his regular climbing regimen helped him get ready.
“I spend 200 days per year somewhere in the mountains,” he told CNN, “of course not always without ropes, but every day is a bit of preparation and training.”
Still, the climb wasn’t easy. Arnold had to pass two other teams of climbers who were on the route at the same time as him, and the climbing traffic also made the rock “quite slippy, almost polished,” he told Rock and Ice.
He posted a video of with highlights of the climb to his Instagram page, which you can check out below:
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Tre Cime, Comici-Dimai – 46min 30sec A beautiful mountain, a incredibly beautiful north face and an unforgettable day😀 Many thanks to all my friends for the great support. Dani #mammut_swiss1862 #victorinox #olympus #msrgear #suunto #petzl_official #lightandbyte #montanaskins @rochester.brn #mountains #dreizinnen #dolomiten #speed #freesolo Pic: Seya Eggler/ Franz Hinterbrandner
Arnold now holds free solo speed records on Cima Grande, Grandes Jorasses in France (2018), the Matterhorn in Italy (2015), and Badile in Switzerland (2016). Just two other major European north faces remain, but Arnold isn’t gunning to nab those records, CNN reports. He previously free soloed one of them, Switzerland’s Eiger face, but his record time has since been beaten. He’s content to let someone else have the honor. As he told CNN, there are plenty of other mountains for him to climb.
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