Alex Honnold is a 26 year old from Sacramento, California who was just covered earlier last month on CBS’s 60 Minutes program for his amazing feat of climbing the Northwest Face of Half Dome in Yosemite, California free solo. For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what “Free solo” means, it’s a method of climbing without any ropes or safety harnesses. Essentially, Honnold climbed the more than 2000 foot high face of Half Dome with just a T-shirt, shorts, shoes, half a bottle of water and some chalk.
There are moments in the program when you hold your breath, where you fear for his life and get pits in your stomach just watching him climb – knowing that if he makes any sort of mistake that he’s going to fall to his death…on camera. The stakes are high, but Honnold says that he doesn’t even get an adrenaline rush when climbing. If he were to get an adrenaline rush during a climb, it could have grave implications. Other highlights in the clip include him wiping his wet shoes – which become wet due to the moisture in some of the cracks of the mountain. Honnold calmly wipes the moisture off the bottom of his shoes onto his calf as he is suspended over 1500 feet, only grasping the wall with two hands and his other leg.
It’s amazing that Honnold is still alive today. He is regarded in the climbing community as the best there is at Free solo climbing, and is in a class of his own compared to other climbers. Honnold started climbing at the age of 11 in 1996 at local indoor climbing gyms, and hasn’t stopped since. A UC Berkeley student, he dropped out at the age of 19 to pursue climbing full time. He lives out of his van, which has a bed in the back. When asked if he has a ton of girls staying over in his van, he simply replies “Do I look like I have girls in here a lot!?”. He’s a goofball and awkward looking brown haired kid when he isn’t climbing. Once he begins climbing however, he turns into something else…a climbing beast as others have regarded him.
I encourage you to check out some of the video clips online of Alex Honnold. Google Alex Honnold’s name and you will find many YouTube & National Geographic Clips of him climbing impossible to imagine walls, most of which are completely vertical. There are also many articles about him (including this one) that will give you an insight into his life and his mindset. Now one just has to wonder… does he put his seatbelt on when he drives?
1. 60 Minutes
3. National Geographic “Alone on the Wall”