Hiking & Treking
Alex Honnold Climbs 3,000-foot El Capitan of Yosemite in Epic Free Solo Climb
Having climbed 3,000-foot El Capitan in less than four hours (rather than the normally suggested four days), a smiling Alex Honnold stood proudly overlooking Yosemite National Park on June 3rd. Having trained for over a year for the event throughout the mountainous terrain of four countries, Honnold was no stranger to rough climbs — but this one is being called the most dangerous rope-free climb ever. In the historic feat, performed without ropes in a style called “free solo,” Honnold scaled the granite wall before photographers and filmmakers in preparation for a National Geographic Documentary Films feature.
Enduring a climbing route known as the “Freerider,” which includes a mid-section with hold spaces merely the width of a pencil and even a spot named “Freeblast” which is described as being as smooth as glass and entirely without hand holds, Honnold’s climb made him the first person to ever free-solo climb the face of El Capitan. After completing the climb, the 31-year-old Sacramento native shared that his feelings were pretty positive in an interview, “Honestly, I think this is the most satisfied I’ve ever been. It was exactly what I hoped for. I felt so good. It went pretty much perfectly.”
Honnold’s remarks following the climb were shared with fellow climber and writer Mark Synnott, who has maintained a friendship following Honnold through his previous expeditions in Oman, Newfoundland, Chad and Low’s Gully in Borneo. Chatting at a location called the “Manure Pile” at the base of El Capitan, the two spoke of the climb excitedly. A happy Honnold elaborated on his feelings about the climb, “It felt much less scary than a lot of other solos I’ve done,” and although some may see this achievement as a final one for him, calling the climb “incomprehensible” and “generation-defining,” Honnold says he’s probably not done yet.
Of the day’s adventure, he stated, “It’s been a strategy the whole time I’ve worked on El Cap to look past it, so that it’s not just all this one moment. To think about what’s beyond, what other stuff I’m excited about. So this just feels like a semi-normal day.” Specifically, Honnold hopes to begin to focus on “9a” now, which according to an editor’s note on NatGeo, is “one of the highest rated, most physically demanding levels of sport climbing.”
Describing the climb as more mentally challenging than physically, Honnold stated that he had “slept like a baby” the night before, and had tried not to awaken sleeping climbers he encountered on his way up the wall. In conclusion, he shared his overall gratitude for the project, “The whole pursuit of this dream has allowed me to live my best life, that makes me hopefully the best version of me. Just because I’ve achieved a dream doesn’t mean that I just give up on the best version of me. I want to be the guy that trains and stays fit and motivated. Just because you finish a big route doesn’t mean that you just quit.”