Masters of rock: Climbers at California’s Yosemite shatter El Capitan’s speed record

Two of the world’s best rock climbers coped with frightening falls and the deaths of two fellow climbers on the same rock in a month-long quest to shatter a mythical record in Yosemite National Park.

Tenacity paid off Wednesday as Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell reached the top of El Capitan, the most celebrated slab of granite on Earth, in less than two hours, breaking a barrier compared to the four-minute mile.

The blistering time of 1 hour, 58 minutes and seven seconds capped weeks of practice and a few stumbles on the so-called Nose route that runs up the middle of the 3,000-foot sheer monolith.

Honnold didn’t think they were on a record pace until he glanced at his phone timer as he ran for the tree that marks the finish line, he told The Associated Press by phone as he hiked down from the summit.

“Oh my god, we’re doing it,” he thought as he secured the rope to the tree and hoped Caldwell would hurry. “It was slightly emotional when we finished it. I had a wave of, ‘Oh wow.’ I’m pretty proud we saw it through.”

The duo broke the record three times in the past week, carving more than 20 minutes off a 2017 mark. Honnold said it would have been easy to stop after breaking records Monday and May 30, but they pressed toward the two-hour goal he considered the “human potential.”

Hans Florine, who has held the record on and off between 1990 and 2012 — the last time with Honnold — said the mark is equivalent to the ongoing quest to break the two-hour marathon or Roger Bannister’s 1954 achievement in the mile.

“We were pushing the five-hour barrier before and then the four-hour barrier and then the three-hour barrier. So which one of those is the four-minute mile?” Florine said before the mark was broken. “I think it is getting close.”

Climbing times on El Cap have fallen precipitously since Warren Harding and two others made the first ascent 60 years ago. That took 12 days in a final push following 48 days of advance work over 18 months as Harding pounded bolts into the rock to aid his climb.

“As I hammered in the last bolt and staggered over the rim, it was not at all clear to me who was the conqueror and who was the conquered,” Harding said afterward.

In this June 3, 2018 photo provided by Corey Rich, Alex Honnold, right, and Tommy Caldwell pose for a portrait at the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Calif. Days after two of the world's most celebrated rock climbers twice set astonishingly fast records on the biggest wall in Yosemite National Park, they did it again Wednesday, June 6, 2018, breaking a mark compared with track's four-minute mile. (Corey Rich/Reel Rock /Novus Select via AP)

Alex Honnold, right, and Tommy Caldwell pose for a portrait at the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Calif. (Corey Rich/Reel Rock /Novus Select via AP)

 (© 2018 Corey Rich)

Yosemite is mecca for climbers because of its vast array of soaring granite walls and peaks. El Cap, though, looms largest and offers 58 distinct routes. The Nose is the best known and typically takes accomplished climbers four or five days.

Climbers jam hands and feet into finger- and fist-width cracks to inch their way up the vertical wall. Sometimes there is little more to grasp or perch on than a sliver the width of a few coins. Other cracks abruptly end in a smooth sea of granite, forcing climbers to swing left or right to find the next hand or foothold.

“It’s a very complicated route,” said Daniel Duane, author of “El Capitan.” ‘‘It meanders all over the place and it has pendulum swings and bolt ladders and there are little variations where you can go this way instead of that way, so there’s a ton of trickery involved in shaving off time.”

Speed can come at a devastating price. Climbers are roped together for safety, and they clip their lifeline into protective pieces placed in cracks along the way to catch them if they fall.

But the amount of gear in a race against the clock is pared to the bare minimum to save weight, and climbers sometimes move in tandem with neither anchored to the rock.

Two experts were speed climbing in that manner on El Cap’s Freeblast route Saturday when one fell and pulled the other 1,000 feet to their deaths. Spectators in the valley below who had been hoping to see Honnold and Caldwell were horrified.

Honnold and Caldwell were not climbing that day and they canceled plans to go for the record Sunday and instead did a training run.

“It’s really hard to go for it 100 percent after something like that happens,” said Honnold, who said the deaths of Jason Wells and Tim Klein weighed on them. “It’s a worst-case scenario, the stuff of nightmares really.”

Caldwell survived two big falls unscathed, including a 100-footer in practice runs.

“It was pretty scary because it was such a gargantuan fall,” said photographer Austin Siadak, who has been shooting video of the team for a documentary. “I saw him hurtling upside down through the air and then bouncing on the end of the rope.”

Once Caldwell came to a rest, he chalked up his hands, swung over to a crack and resumed his upward progress.

Honnold, 32, and Caldwell, 39, are arguably the biggest stars of rock climbing, but both suffered small injuries. Caldwell’s knees and fingers were bloodied and Honnold got a nasty rope burn in a fall that tore a chunk from a finger.

Caldwell shared fame in 2015 with Kevin Jorgeson on a first ascent of El Cap’s Dawn Wall, one of the world’s hardest routes, using no assistance in a 19-day climb and only ropes and gear to protect against a fall.

Honnold is the only person to have climbed El Cap solo without a rope or any protection, a perilous feat that earned him both admiration and criticism for being reckless.

The two climbers represent a “dream team” from a generation that honed their craft in rock gyms and “are showing up in the outdoors with a radically different ability level than they used to,” Duane said.

So even Honnold and Caldwell’s new high marks may not stand.

“It’s hard to imagine, gosh, how could anybody get better than those guys?” Duane said. “Climbing is a lot further along than it was 30 years ago on that curve toward athletic maturity, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the outer limits.”


IHOP says it’s changing iconic name; pancake lovers flip out

The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is getting ready for a new name.

“For 60 pancakin’ years, we’ve been IHOP,” the restaurant chain said on Twitter Monday. “Now, we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb. Find out what it could b on 6.11.18. #IHOb.”

The tweet has sparked thousands of comments on the social media platform.  

In the lead-up to next week’s reveal, IHOP also tweeted a poll, asking, “IHOb? What could it b?”

People can vote for one of four options: biscuits, bacon, butternut squash and barnacles.

However, that hasn’t stopped Twitter users from weighing in with other ideas. 

“Blueberries?” a user asked the chain.

“Blueberries, bacon, breakfast… There are so many possi-b-ilities,” IHOP responded.

“Burritos I called it years ago,” a different person tweeted.

“Nope, keep guessing!” the company wrote back, shooting down the idea.

IHOP also had a message for a user who said it’s “breakfast.”


“o-b-viously you should come back on 6/11 to see what it’s gonna b,” it said.

“Burgers,” another person declared.

IHOP’s reply? “but it could b anything… you’ll just have to stay tuned!”

Someone else chimed in, “100% international house of barbecue, it is going to be BARBECUED pancakes.” 

“whoaaa there,” IHOP tweeted. 

The move isn’t a joke, a company rep told the New York Post. 

IHOP did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.


Belmont Jewel cocktail, and other signature Belmont Stakes race day drinks to try

Cheers! The iconic Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is upon us, and those who want to celebrate with an icy beverage during the race are in luck.

The Belmont Jewel, the signature drink of the Belmont Stakes, is back.

The cocktail, a creation by mixologist and chef Drew Revella with Centerplate Inc., was introduced to the New York horse race back in 2012.

Unlike the Kentucky Derby’s famous Mint Julep and the Preakness Stakes’ Black-Eyed Susan, the Belmont Stakes didn’t really have a consistent race day drink.

For years, the race’s official drink was a White Carnation, named after the 40-pound blanket of white flowers placed over the Belmont Stakes champion. The drink was fruity, primarily consisting of vodka and peach schnapps. According to New York mixologist Dale DeGroff, who tended bar at the Rainbow Room, it wasn’t a popular choice at the track nor did he care for it.

“I didn’t like the looks of the recipe,” DeGroff told Newsday.

So in 1998, DeGroff came up with the whiskey-based Belmont Breeze. While it was tasty, it was hard to make. It was too time consuming for bartenders to create during a jam-packed race day.

“It’s got to be traditional but at the same time drinkable and delightful,” cocktail writer, Dave Wondrich, told The New York Times in June 2012. “Something simple enough that people can actually make it would be nice, too.

That’s when Belmont officials landed on the Jewel, a three-ingredient cocktail that’s easy to make (and shake). Here’s the recipe for the official race day drink, and others that came before it.

Belmont Jewel

Belmont Jewel

Brown Forman Corporation

 (This three-ingredient Belmont Stakes cocktail has been around since 2012.)

1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon
2 oz lemonade
1 oz pomegranate juice
Orange zest

Mix the ingredients together. Shake the cocktail “vigorously with ice” and serve on the rocks with a lemon twist.

Belmont Breeze


In 1998, the Belmont Breeze was created.


1 1/2 ounces of bourbon whiskey
3/4 ounces Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
1 ounce of simple syrup
Splash of fresh orange juice
Splash of cranberry juice
1 ounce 7-Up
1 ounce Club Soda
5 mint leaves

Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up, club soda and mint leaves. Garnish with a fresh lemon wedge.

White Carnation


The White Carnation was Belmont’s signature cocktail for years, until race officials realized it wasn’t popular with racegoers.


2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. club soda
Splash of cream

Stir and pour over ice in a highball glass.

Louis Vuitton reportedly hired a shaman to stop rain before fashion show

Luxury brand Louis Vuitton hired a shaman to prevent rain from marring the brand’s recent over-the-top show in the south of France.

Sources tell Page Six that while the guru had also been hired to tame the weather at previous shows around the world, skeptical execs at parent company LVMH had recently axed the jet-setting holy man from the budget.


But when a downpour unfashionably soaked an outdoor Dior show last week in Chantilly, France, the shaman was back on the payroll for Louis Vuitton’s fashion show at the Fondation Maeght, near Antibes, this week.

Top stylist Kate Young posted as part of a fashion diary for for the Louis Vuitton resort show: “Vuitton hired a shaman to stave off the rain and apparently all his work succeeded (kissing trees, or so I heard), because it didn’t rain until after the show finished!”

Harper’s Bazaar reported of the show, “The unidentified shaman also commanded the weather at LV’s Cruise shows in Rio and Kyoto.” But insiders further tell Page Six that after the aforementioned Rio de Janeiro show last year at the Niterói museum, LVMH brass cut the big kahuna loose.


“They used the shaman in Rio,” said a source, to ward off any potential bad weather, but then “the executives thought it was dumb” and gave the cosmic weatherman a pink slip.

Then last week, the Dior show was deluged when, according to WWD, “a heavy rainstorm broke moments before the start of the show, dousing the models as they made their way around the semi-open venue.”


Page Six sources say that’s when LVMH decided to bring back the shaman to the Louis Vuitton show — and the plan seemed to work, keeping rain away until the catwalk was cleared. Guests who stayed dry thanks to the mystical intervention included Emma Stone, Léa Seydoux, Ruth Negga and Sienna Miller. Reps did not immediately comment.

This story originally appeared in Page Six.

7 ways to cool your home without an air conditioner

If you don’t have an air conditioner, check out these seven creative ways to stay cool all summer long.

Hack a fan

With a bowl of ice and a fan, you can create a faux ocean breeze. Simply fill a mixing bowl with ice or an ice pack, and put the bowl in front of a fan. Turn the fan on, and the air will mimic a chilly, misty breeze. If you do have an air conditioner but it’s broken, check out this DIY air conditioning service repair.

Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise

A ceiling fan isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it appliance. In the summer, the fan blades should rotate counter-clockwise (as you look up at it) to push the air straight down. Increase the fan speed on really hot days. No ceiling fan at your house? Here’s everything you need to know to install one yourself.

Try cooling curtains

Sometimes opening all the windows just doesn’t cut it, in which case, spray a sheet with cold water and cover the window’s opening. The breeze will hit the sheet and pass through the cool, damp fabric, which can help bring the temperature down in your home.

Make a DIY air conditioner

Feel like getting crafty? You can create your own air conditioner by using a fan, 3/8 copper coil, a water pump, ice, cooler box and a plastic pipe. Check out this tutorial for all the information you’ll need. Here are some air conditioning mistakes you can avoid if you have the appliance.

Turn on bathroom fans

Your bathroom fans, as well as the exhaust fan in your kitchen, drag the hot air that rises and push it out of your home. Don’t have a bathroom fan? Here’s how to install one.

Use insulated window films

Window films offer a ton of benefits, from cutting energy costs to providing you privacy while still enjoying the view and light of the great outdoors. They can provide up to 98 percent infrared heat reduction compared to unprotected windows, and reduce temperature imbalances in your home. Here’s more ideas on how to save energy and cut cooling costs.

Get a chill pillow

If you’ve switched out your flannel sheets for a lightweight set, and still need another way to cool down at bedtime, try a pillow with cooling gel to disperse body heat. 

Read more ways to keep your home cool on Family Handyman.

High performance Ram Rebel TRX on the way with midsize pickup in tow

Ram is adding a monster truck and a midsize pickup to its lineup.

The automaker confirmed on Friday plans to put its Ram 1500 Rebel TRX concept into production by 2022. The high performance pickup was designed to be a high speed off-roader in the same mold as the Ford F-150 Raptor.


Details were not revealed, but the 2016 concept featured a 575 hp version of the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat’s 6.2-liter supercharged V8, and rumor has it that the production truck will be available with the full-bore 707 hp version.

Ram will also reenter the midsize pickup segment that it abandoned when the Dakota went out of production in 2011. It’s not known if the nameplate will return, but the all-new truck will compete with the likes of the Chevrolet Colorado and upcoming Ford Ranger.

The brand is also expanding its range of hybrid engines, which currently includes a 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8, but hasn’t said what size the new one will be or how many cylinders it will have.

Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability similar to Tesla’s Autopilot will be added to the Ram 1500 options list in 2021, and offered on its heavy duty pickups and Promaster City minivan the following year.

Gary Gastelu is’s Automotive Editor. Follow him on Twitter @garygastelu

Classic 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for record $70 million

A classic Ferrari has changed hands for a world record $70 million.

The 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO – the Holy Grail model – won the Tour de France in 1964, which is one of the world’s most famous and historic motor races.

It is a 174mph road-legal racing car and one of only 36 built between 1962 and 1964.

For years the Ferrari, likened to a Picasso of the motoring world, has been based in Germany but shown and driven at events around the world.

The Ferrari, known as 4153 GT, has now been sold for $70 million (£52 million) – a record-breaking figure for a car.

Leading Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, who described the car as one of the top three or four GTOs in the world, confirmed it had been bought by an American businessman.

Mr Massini added he was confident a GTO would be sold for $100 million within five years.

During the 1990s, the GTO was restored by Hertfordshire-based DK Engineering. The bluechip car specialist wasn’t involved in the $70 million deal.


But James Cottingham, vehicle acquisition specialist at DK Engineering, said: “This is without doubt one of the best 250 GTOs in existence in terms of history and originality.

“Its period competition is very good. It won the Tour de France which is big tick and was fourth overall at Le Mans which was a mega result.

“It was raced by Ecurie Francorchamps, who are one of the most iconic and famous independent Ferrari teams, it has never had a big accident and it is highly original.”

The Ferrari 250 GTO is the most sought after classic car because of its perfect blend of looks, rarity and performance on both the track and public road.


This model has competed in a string of racing disciplines, including hill climbs, track races and long-distance road rallies.

At the 1964 Tour de France, Ecurie Francorchamps teammates Lucien Bianchi and Georges Berger comfortably drove 4153 GT to victory ahead of the Ferrari team.

It was its all-round drivability, combined with looks and and rarity that has made the 250 GTO the Holy Grail of cars.

Ferrari fitted the 250 GTO with a 3-litre V12 engine which developed more than 300bhp – giving it a 0-60mph time of 6.1 seconds and a top speed of more than 174mph.