That's the new record for the fastest climb up El Capitan in Yosemite. The locals were defending their record against outsiders that climbed it in 2:45. The route they are using is The Nose, which is straight up the middle, rated 5.11 with a big pendulum required in the middle of the route. If you've ever seen that rock, then you know awe. When I see that granite monolith, I fancy that I can feel its gravity. It is incredibly massive. If you are not a climber it is hard to imagine going up it with just your body, a few bits of metal and a rope. But it can be done. People used to take 3 days to do this route, sleeping on little portable shelves on the way up, hauling huge bags, and flinging their fecal matter down in paper bags. No more.
I used to be a climber. I got rid of most of my gear but I still have the basics. I took it up in the mid 1980's when there was an extended drought in the southeast, and the rivers dried to a trickle. My boyfriend at the time, JD, taught me how to lead so that we could swap lead on multi-pitch climbs. I remember my first lead, on a 6 pitch, 5.2 climb at Linville Gorge (North Carolina) known as The Prow. I led a pitch that was not even 5.2, putting a tricam under an "eyebrow" of rock every 5-10 feet. I didn't look back at JD, who was belaying. When I got to the top and set my anchor, I looked down and every single piece that I had set in the rock had jiggled out, and they were hanging on the rope in front of JD. It was humbling, because if I had fallen, I would have tumbled down the rock as far past JD as I was above him when I fell. The route was so easy, though, that I would have happily free-soloed it: I had no fear of falling. Later in my climbing career I got much better at placing protection while leading, but I never did fall on lead, preferring to stay well within my abilities. Years later I climbed The Prow without ropes or gear, just for the warmup. I enjoy free soloing more than climbing with all the gear, as long as I am able to feel comfortable on the rock.
I remember one time when we were spending a winter at Joshua Tree, we had set up two topropes on a 5.8 and a 5.9 on a slab of rock that stood immediately over our campsite. While I was on the 8 and someone else from our group was on the 9, a guy came and free soloed the route between our two, a 5.11. He stopped in the middle to retie his shoes. I thought he was a showoff and a dick. I later discovered that all major climbing areas have their local badasses who like to sandbag visitors and piss (figuratively) on the rock.