/ Alex Honnold Free Solos El Cap

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guy127917 - on 03 Jun 2017
Just saw on Conrad Ankers Instagram that Alex free soloed Free Rider today! Pretty incredible achievement....


http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/features/athletes/alex-honnold/most-dangerous-free-solo-...
cb294 - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Insane!

I hope he stops now, what else would he have to prove to himself?

CB
TobyA on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Was just reading it. Crazy stuff eh?
Adam Long - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Absolutely mindblowing.
john arran - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

I don't usually comment on achievement threads like this, as a thread full of congratulatory emptiness gets pretty dull very quickly. But in this case ...

WOW!

Chapeau Mr. Honnold.
davidalcock - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Yeah, hyperbole doesn't begin to do it justice.
Shani - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Shit. The. Bed.

Mind blown.

Well done Mr Hannold.
Si_G - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to cb294:

> Insane!I hope he stops now, what else would he have to prove to himself?CB

Triple crown free solo.

Agree. Hope he stops. I like him. I'd like him to stick around.
wilkie14c - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

"rappelled Freerider to make sure that a recent rainstorm had not washed off the marks he had made with dabs of chalk to highlight the route’s key holds"


cheater
Michael Hood - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to wilkie14c: I know, tick marks visible from the valley floor

GrahamD - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to cb294:

> Insane!I hope he stops now, what else would he have to prove to himself?CB

You get the impression that soloing at this level can only be a numbers game. Whilst hugely impressive as a piece of climbing I can't help thinking the odds are gradually stacking up. Really hope I'm wrong.
Chris Craggs - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

I had the same feeling as the day I heard Livesey had done Right Wall - couldn't really comprehend it.

Astounding,


Chris


guy127917 - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to wilkie14c:

I can only imagine the backlash on supertopo
John Stainforth - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Si_G:

I too wish he would stop now. Although my own standard of climbing is pathetic alongside Honnold, I know that I have several times fallen off completely unexpectedly as a result of a crystal breaking off or a foot slipping on a piece of polish. How do the very best climbers avoid that?
liquid - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

It's all fairly positive! Photo's from the day
http://elcapreport.com/content/elcap-report-6317-special-edition-honnold-free-solo-elcap

To echo someone from supertopo amazing, mind blown now someone duck tape him to a chair
John2 - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to liquid:
Not decrying Alex's ascent in any way, but in photo number 7 there is a rope of some sort clearly visible. Does anyone know what that is? Perhaps for one of the photographers?
Post edited at 21:06
Si_G - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to John2:

The camera crew were roped and jumaring.
There were other climbers on the routes.
timjones - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to John2:

> Not decrying Alex's ascent in any way, but in photo number 7 there is a rope of some sort clearly visible. Does anyone know what that is? Perhaps for one of the photographers?

Last spring there was an old in-situ rope there to assist climbers that were retreating.
john arran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to John Stainforth:

> I too wish he would stop now. Although my own standard of climbing is pathetic alongside Honnold, I know that I have several times fallen off completely unexpectedly as a result of a crystal breaking off or a foot slipping on a piece of polish. How do the very best climbers avoid that?

Simple. Don't trust completely to any crystals or polished footholds that you haven't already tested to beyond their needed use. It isn't rocket science, but it is something that, when you're soloing, you're far more aware of, therefore far more careful to avoid, therefore far less likely. Just because it happened while leading or seconding certainly doesn't mean it would happen soloing.
Pete Pozman - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to John Stainforth:

> I too wish he would stop now. Although my own standard of climbing is pathetic alongside Honnold, I know that I have several times fallen off completely unexpectedly as a result of a crystal breaking off or a foot slipping on a piece of polish. How do the very best climbers avoid that?

They don't...
johncoxmysteriously - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Lordy!! I asked someone who knows these things when this was coming a year or two ago, and he told me it was decades away. Just shows.

jcm
stp - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to liquid:

Great photo sequence. Just wish they'd added the pitch number and grades though.

The pre-placed cameras suggest this wasn't a spontaneous ascent and I do wonder about the motivation for doing it. If he'd climbed a certain way and then didn't feel like completing it then he'd be letting down the photographers who went to all the effort to get their cameras set up there. Maybe that never happens to him though, or is unlikely if he knows the route well enough?
Michael Hood - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to stp: Somewhere in one of the threads or articles it said he came down after an hour when he'd tried it previously. Presumably the filming team know that he's only going to do it (and carry on at any particular stage) if he feels happy about it, so they know that it may take several attempts. Also, he's been practicing it for ages so he knows it very well.

I love the way he just wanders past other people on the route but not yet climbing, just like soloing at Stanage.

Si_G - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

I get the impression it was filmed in conjunction with National Geographic
Michael Gordon - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I love the way he just wanders past other people on the route but not yet climbing, just like soloing at Stanage.

Like the cameraman who was asleep on a ledge! Bit of a surreal moment for both
TheDrunkenBakers - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Makes me feel queasy just thinking about it.

Question, what happens if he decides that he cant do it due to fatigue. Does he simply climb down?

Offwidth - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

Chapeau Alex.

As for all the UKCers hoping he gives up soloing I hope you are all considering giving up your climbing as well, as in the end we all deliberately take the risks that we take and Alex seems as solid in his calculations as anyone at the top end of his particular game... the risks in his Patagonia ascents was probably higher (unexpected bad storm, falling rock/ice etc) knowing how carefully he prepares. The risk of this compared to the most serious Himalayan ascents will probably be way less are they all to stop right now??. stp is even criticising the spontaneity of the ascent ffs: is this a climbing website or the Daily Fail?
GrahamD - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> Chapeau Alex. As for all the UKCers hoping he gives up soloing I hope you are all considering giving up your climbing as well, as in the end we all deliberately take the risks that we take ..

That doesn't follow at all. Being uncomfortable with watching people pushing the limits to this extent is just a natural response. Its not a quantified 'unjustifiable risk' statement.
Si_G - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Makes me feel queasy just thinking about it.Question, what happens if he decides that he cant do it due to fatigue. Does he simply climb down?

I'm guessing the camera crew rescue him?
Offwidth - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

It follows to me as it shows a sad failure of climbers to understand the intrinsic nature of risk in the different climbing games and puts climbers in the same sort of illogical position as the public fall into out of ignorance. Any climber facing comparable risks to that faced by Alex on these long solo ascents, given his high skill levels, unusually sharp focus and careful practice, should be treated the same way and high objective risks will always trump any skill related subjective risks, so Alex is a good way down the list of climbers whose practices need discouraging.
GrahamD - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I wasn't talking about discourageing. I was talking about being uneasy or uncomfortable watching it. Its a subjective rather than an entirely objective response.
ed woods - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I'd encourage you to try writing shorter sentences ;)
Offwidth - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to ed woods:

I'd encourage you to work on a longer attention span (try reading some Proust).
Rock to Fakey - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:
> It follows to me as it shows a sad failure of climbers to understand the intrinsic nature of risk in the different climbing games and puts climbers in the same sort of illogical position as the public fall into out of ignorance. Any climber facing comparable risks to that faced by Alex on these long solo ascents, given his high skill levels, unusually sharp focus and careful practice, should be treated the same way and high objective risks will always trump any skill related subjective risks, so Alex is a good way down the list of climbers whose practices need discouraging.


I disagree on these grounds...
Pull on / step on 10 holds, small chance one breaks.
Pull / step on 100... more chance
1000 holds... more etc, the risk increases.
Don't know how many holds, 500-1000ish? on this multi-pitch.

You could break that down to a few months worth of weekend trad, just 1 weekend day a week, or less with sport, a few weeks of routes, just guessing, but how often do you experience hand / foothold breakage, of something that may even previously have seemed solid?
It doesn't always make u fall, but it has for some.
Post edited at 20:55
Deadeye - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Rock to Fakey:

Offwidth's point was that all of us (if we leave the hallowed "armchair") risk a fatal climb.

Yes, mistakes happen (whether *any* mistakes are truly "accidents" is for another thread). However, for potentially fatal mistakes Honnold is way down the list of numbers to come up - it's far more likely that a less experienced person will blow it (and, for example, 80%+ of fatalities happen in descent). I guess the difference is that most inexperienced people don't realise thir placement is poor or the physics of their situation. My criticism of Honnold is that he does, but goes anyway.

That said, he's not as far down the list as I would want to be. My longest ever trad fall was due to a hold that snapped on easy ground.
john arran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Deadeye:

Many people seem to have an understandable, but completely false, belief that solid-looking rock suddenly snaps according to some random probability and there's nothing you can do about it. This is simply untrue.
With few, if any, exceptions, if a hold breaks on you then either you didn't look at it and assess it carefully enough, or you did but chose to pull on it anyway, knowing that a resulting fall would not be serious.
When I sport climb and I'm close to a bolt I'll barely give a second thought to pulling on holds of any shape or thinness, and sure enough occasionally I'll end up in mid air when one snaps unexpectedly. But when I'm soloing I'll be inspecting many holds to the nth degree, and testing many of them with 'safe' weight before actually committing to using them with less weight than that. That's why people don't safely solo very close to their leading grade, as it takes a fair bit in reserve to be able to make those assessments and adjustments in the middle of a crux sequence. The only times I have ever been caught out by loose rock while soloing have been due to lack of concentration, never due to lack of ability to judge. It's no surprise that many of the accomplished soloists that have died soloing, have fallen on relatively easy ground.
elliot.baker - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:

I wondered - what is a normal time to climb this route?

Also - I keep reading "first person to free solo el cap" I thought all those famous photos of him "alone on the wall" were taken there? Or were they just taken in Yosemite but on other walls that weren't El Cap?
Robert Durran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> It follows to me as it shows a sad failure of climbers to understand the intrinsic nature of risk in the different climbing games and puts climbers in the same sort of illogical position as the public fall into out of ignorance.

Absolutely. I find some of the responses on here bizarre and astonishing; one wonders whether some of these people are actually climbers. Having said that, I do find some Honnold videos difficult viewing - but then I've sometimes pushed off round the corner when a mate has been soloing a VS.
John Stainforth - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

I agree that testing of 99.9% of holds is simple. I was referring to the 0.1% or less, such as very small crystals or flakes on crux moves that have to be used.

I highly admire Honnold's achievement, and I still solo some relatively easy rock. I am not criticizing H in any way, just concerned that he his pushing his luck.

I am a geologist and a climber who has climbed on a lot of dodgy rock. My worry is not the dodgy looking rock but the absolutely solid-looking rock that *does* just suddenly fail, completely unexpectedly. Small flakes or crystals that one has carefully examined do (very occasionally) fail in a totally surprising way, as do very large pieces of rock (e.g. the Bonatti Pillar on the Dru.) This freaky failure of apparently strong flakes or crystals has only happened to me twice in fifty years of climbing.

stp - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> stp is even criticising the spontaneity of the ascent ffs

You need to read responses more carefully before replying. I never made any such criticism. I merely pointed out the fact. I think that's an interesting thing, the pre-practice and pre-planning of a solo ascent because, as far as I know, it's not the way most solo ascents have been done in the past. It seems to have more in common with headpointing. So it's potentially maybe a new game or style in climbing. Yeah, I know we've probably all soloed stuff we've done with a rope before but it's not quite the same thing, where you practice and plan beforehand.

Honnold is also in a bit of unique position in my opinion. He's a proper sponsored climber - by which I mean he makes his livelihood from climbing. Yet as a climber it's only his soloing that he really excels at. Yes I know he can climb 8c+ sport but I don't think anyone is going to make a living from that when the cutting edge is now closer to 9c. So it seems he's maybe in a bit of a trap. If he wants to continue to make his living from climbing he has to do more hard solo ascents to make the news. It's different from climbers who are more rounded, like say John Bachar, Simon Nadin or Ron Fawcett, who could choose to go soloing when they felt like it but just as much make news from their roped climbing as well.

I suppose he has branched out into mountaineering in recent years too. Though that is arguably an even more dangerous pastime with far more subjective danger. And no one is criticising mountaineering as a something that should not be done. Maybe it's more that soloing hard climbs is a such a minority thing that people view it as unacceptable in some way?

Ged Desforges - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

I listened to a good podcast with him where he sounded a bit frustrated about the fact that he's only famous for soloing. In his opinion his proudest achievements are the speed records he has on the Nose, and every other major feature in Yosemite.

Probably best to not forget the Fitz traverse too.
timjones - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> You need to read responses more carefully before replying. I never made any such criticism. I merely pointed out the fact. I think that's an interesting thing, the pre-practice and pre-planning of a solo ascent because, as far as I know, it's not the way most solo ascents have been done in the past. It seems to have more in common with headpointing. So it's potentially maybe a new game or style in climbing. Yeah, I know we've probably all soloed stuff we've done with a rope before but it's not quite the same thing, where you practice and plan beforehand.Honnold is also in a bit of unique position in my opinion. He's a proper sponsored climber - by which I mean he makes his livelihood from climbing. Yet as a climber it's only his soloing that he really excels at. Yes I know he can climb 8c+ sport but I don't think anyone is going to make a living from that when the cutting edge is now closer to 9c. So it seems he's maybe in a bit of a trap. If he wants to continue to make his living from climbing he has to do more hard solo ascents to make the news. It's different from climbers who are more rounded, like say John Bachar, Simon Nadin or Ron Fawcett, who could choose to go soloing when they felt like it but just as much make news from their roped climbing as well.I suppose he has branched out into mountaineering in recent years too. Though that is arguably an even more dangerous pastime with far more subjective danger. And no one is criticising mountaineering as a something that should not be done. Maybe it's more that soloing hard climbs is a such a minority thing that people view it as unacceptable in some way?

You appear to be missing a lot of the other climbing that he has done.

What about the speed records, the link ups and the 7 in 7 that he completed with Dave Allfrey?

Robert Durran - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> It seems to have more in common with headpointing.

Indeed. I'm baffled why this solo should attract controversy while a headpoint of a protectionless E9 or E10 would not (the only real difference is the ability to remain in absolute control for far longer).

> Yet as a climber it's only his soloing that he really excels at.

Using world class speed climbing techniques to pull off the Fitzroy traverse was truly groundbreaking.

> No one is criticising mountaineering as a something that should not be done. Maybe it's more that soloing hard climbs is a such a minority thing that people view it as unacceptable in some way?

The general public probably think that pretty much all mountaineering is unacceptably dangerous because they don't understand how the risks are managed. It seems from this and the other Honnold thread that many climbers don't understand how soloing risks are managed. I really don't think Honnold is doing anything different to what loads of climbers do, say, at Stanage. Just at a astronomically higher level.

ed woods - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Just teasing! I didn't realise you were gunning for the Proustian form...

Well done Mr Honnold. Hatstand!
Niblet on 06 Jun 2017
Regarding the "moonlanding of climbing" quote and others, what makes this so different from the Auer ascent of the Fish route on Marmolada? The type of climbing, the sustained difficulty, the fact it's in Yosemite?

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP19/newswire-auer-dolomites-fish-solo

stp - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It seems from this and the other Honnold thread that many climbers don't understand how soloing risks are managed.

Maybe if you look at it from the statistics angle the odds don't look very favourable. A lot of very good solo climbers have died soloing: Jimmy Jewel, John Bachar, Derek Hersey etc.. Derek died soloing in the Valley when caught out by a flash rainstorm.

Statistics of course don't say anything about the finer points, like how hard you push yourself, how in control you are, how well you know the route you're on, which will all be big factors affecting the true risk. In interviews Honnold does seem to have his head screwed on. Soloing is higher risk than a lot of things but not so high risk as to be unjustifiable if you don't push it too hard. Freerider is 6 grades below his redpoint max, and of course he practiced it too.
stp - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Niblet:

Good point. I suppose hyperbole goes hand in hand with writing an interesting news story. The route is more well known, the crux pitch is two grades harder and maybe the nature of the climbing (insecure smears etc.) might be significant. But I don't know anything about the Fish route. Historically it's significant as until fairly recently there weren't any free climbs on El Cap at all so the fact that someone has now free soloed it is a pretty amazing feat; a symbolic landmark in the progression of climbing.
beardy mike - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

The Fish is apparently super insecure, being all face climbing on pocketed (in places) calcarious limestone. It is higher in altitude (if that makes a difference) and I believe Auer did not practice it any where near as much as Honnold got on Freerider. I certainly wouldn't want to detract from Honnolds climb as it is stratospherically good, but Auers really is no less impressive. I think the main reason is that Marmolada vs El Cap is lesser known and as you say, free ascents are the predominent style there. Here's some film of Federica Mingolla who recently completed the first free female ascent; an impressive climb and situation:

https://www.vimeo.com/204263843
Niblet on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to beardy mike:

Auer apparently tried it a couple of years earlier and failed(!), then he rapped down and worked the crux parts once right before the successful ascent.
nb - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Niblet:

> what makes this so different from the Auer ascent of the Fish route on Marmolada? The type of climbing, the sustained difficulty, the fact it's in Yosemite?

There are a few minor differences in terms of difficulty, style of ascent, style of climbing, and perhaps even all-out exposure, but the biggest difference has to be the fact that Auer's climb was out-of-season in a remote(ish) valley with no support/media team and no stage management. Also social media was practically non-existant at the time.

So what makes this so different? Perception!

Both are super-impressive achievements.

(Also the 'moon-landing' remark was made by a dedicated Yosemite climber, so maybe a bit of local bias!)
AJM - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> You need to read responses more carefully before replying. I never made any such criticism. I merely pointed out the fact. I think that's an interesting thing, the pre-practice and pre-planning of a solo ascent because, as far as I know, it's not the way most solo ascents have been done in the past

His book makes clear he practised things like Moonlight Buttress a fair bit prior to the solo. I doubt he's ever just turned up and done a big solo on impulse?
paul mitchell - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to guy127917:
You only die once,and Honnold has lived more than most.

Plus,he said he U .S needs to stay in the Paris Accords,to reduce global warming.

Clearly,a very balanced bloke.
Post edited at 15:03
jkarran - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to liquid:


I feel a bit sick and voyeuristic flicking through those pictures despite knowing he succeeded. That's what, roughly 25 years from first ascent to first free then another 30 for the first free solo. I wonder whether Robbins, Frost and Pratt then Piana and Todd would have ever seen that coming. All mind-blowing achievements for their time that each required something exceptional.
jk
Post edited at 16:12

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