Why Alex Honnold’s Free Solo of El Cap Scared Me

Alex Honnold once told me that somewhere in his van, hidden amongst the hundreds of pages of training logs and route journals, he has a list of life goals. On top of that list there are two letters, “FR,” meaning the Freerider, the most popular route up the 3,000-foot granite monolith of El Capitan. The route is far below Alex’s limit, but his goal was to free solo it—to climb it without ropes—which no one had ever done.

I figured that Alex would one day do it, but didn’t know whether I should encourage him to follow through on his plan, or discourage him from taking the risk. Would I be watching my friend perform an act of generation defining mastery or a round of Russian roulette? More than anyone in our climbing community, Alex has brought the conversation of risk into the front of our minds. As one of his closest friends and an El Capitan addict myself, you would think I would have a handle on what it would mean to free solo the Freerider. But I don’t. No one does. Except Alex.

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2 Responses to Why Alex Honnold’s Free Solo of El Cap Scared Me

  1. AndyDeKlerk Jun 6, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    In terms of mental mastery, I am convinced that it is one of the pinnacle sporting moments of all time. I hope others are inspired by Alex’s dedication to excellence and ability live without fear, and less by his willingness to accept risk. We have lost far too many in our world already. In terms of talent, preparedness, and climbing composure, Alex is a true outlier. He brought an element of sanity to this climb that no one else could, or probably ever will again.Free soloing El Cap has been the most anticipated climbing feat of our generation, but only because of Alex. There have been very few people potentially capable of accomplishing this, and sadly most of these individuals are no longer with us. In the past I’ve equated the possibility of this climb to the moon landing of free soloing. Today, knowing that it has been done, I think that is a fair assessment of the significance. It’s a generation-defining climb

  2. AndyDeKlerk Jun 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

    From Tommy Caldwell.
    Much respect Alex

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