Alex Honnold

What if he falls?

What if He Falls?

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin produced, directed, and shot the movie Free Solo, about Alex Honnold’s free solo of the Freerider route on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California. This behind the scenes piece for The New York Times is incredible and the movie will no doubt be incredible as well.

Zoom it out. Wow!

Alex Honnold free solos Freerider on El Capitan

Alex Honnold has become the first climber to free solo Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan wall

This is an incredible achievement. It’s a landmark in the history of rock climbing. Honnold is an exceptional climber and has free soloed (no rope or other equipment) many difficult routes before but this route is in another category.

I climbed the Nose Route on El Capitan in the late 1970’s in slightly slower than what was then the regular time: 4 days (an extra day) and with about half the climb using aid (using gear to advance, not just protect a fall). The route Honnold has done is much harder than the Nose route and he’s done it free solo. Freerider is a variant of the Salathe Wall route put up by the recently deceased Royal Robbins in 1961.

I’m a long retired climber but I’m interested in how the sport has advanced over the many years since I did it. This is a very large advance.

Wow.

Alex Honnold free soloing Sentinel in Yosemite Valley

The Ascent of Alex Honnold

60 Minutes ran a piece last night about rock climber Alex Honnold free soloing a serious 2000 foot route on Sentinel in Yosemite Valley.

I love seeing and hearing veteran climber John Long (also a legend but from my generation) commenting to Lara Logan. Both Honnold and Long are arguably two of the best climbers of their respective times but both seem relatively humble in the various clips and no doubt this was attractive to Lara Logan and producer Jeff Newton.

Here’s some behind the scenes commentary by Newton on filming: Filming mountain climber Alex Honnold.

And, check out this interview footage 60 Minutes did with Alex that didn’t run in the piece: Dude: The quirky world of Alex Honnold. You have to love this guy; he doesn’t take himself too seriously and he lives at home with his parents.

Dude, I’ve climbed Sentinel by a route right near the one he did. My hands were sweating watching this on TV last night. Gnarly.

[via Steve Splonskowski and David Clark]