Hans Florine has broken records and helped countless others discover the joys of rock climbing. But after breaking bones in both legs in a Yosemite climbing accident, he could use some help from the many he’s inspired.
Florine and partner Abe Shreve were climbing high on The Nose of El Capitan on May 3. Florine was leading, placed a nut for protection, tested it and stood on it. But then the nut popped free from the rock, Florine plunged about 20 feet, hit a ledge and broke bones in both legs.
Florine, 53, pioneered the art of speed climbing and held The Nose’s fastest records with various partners for most of the last 28 years. He and Alex Honnold raced up the wall in 2 hours and 23 minutes in 2012, a mark which stood for five years. “Hollywood Hans” has climbed El Capitan 178 times in all, but the 179th attempt led to a helicopter rescue and surgery.
He’s facing an estimated six months in a wheelchair and a full recovery that might take a year.
“He got out of the hospital after getting a bunch of metal put in his feet and legs. He remains positive and is already off the nasty pain meds, but still has a long recovery ahead of him,” reported his friend and climbing partner Steve Schneider.
Florine, a member of the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, has helped children and disabled athletes discover the sport and donated his time and energy to the Access Fund, Outward Bound and Boy Scouts.
His positive attitude in the face of hardship is nothing short of remarkable. Even as fresh stitches cover his legs, he’s pumping iron and planning to improve his best bench press. Though still months away from walking, he cheered on his friends Honnold and Tommy Caldwell from El Capitan Meadow as they broke The Nose speed record again on June 6 with a mind-boggling performance of 1 hour and 58 minutes.
Despite Florine’s cheerful optimism, his financial need is real and pressing, say his friends who set up a fundraising page for him at https://www.gofundme.com/hansflorinemedicalfund.
“Of course he is severely money challenged at this point,” Schneider said. “If you know Hans, or perhaps have been inspired by him, then now is a chance to help out one of our tribe in need.”