/ NEWS: Alex Honnold free solos Freerider, El Capitan

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UKC News - on 03 Jun 2017
Alex Honnold has become the first climber to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite. On 3rd June 2017, Honnold left all ropes and gear at the bottom of the 3000ft monolith and began climbing at 5:32am, topping out in 3 hours and 56 minutes. This ascent marks the pinnacle so far of Honnold's breathtaking CV, and is undoubtedly one of the most significant ascents in the history of the sport. Read more
derryclimbs - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Simply incredible. What could he actually do next?
john arran - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

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.
Irelando on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I don't actually agree with soloing as a discipline....but when something like this happens you'd have to be made of stone not feel hugely impressed and proud of the pinnacle of the sport we love.
Greasy Prusiks on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I solo the odd VDiff at stanage so obviously me and Alex have a lot in common but even so I'm impressed. ;)


Seriously though that is mind blowing. Does anyone know what the maximum grade he has lead on trad/sport? I'd be interested to know.
AlanLittle - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

Somebody on reddit said 5.14c sport, so 8c+. So respectable but nowt special - as he himself also frequently says in interviews.
Shani - on 03 Jun 2017
Auer's solo of The Fish (7b+), is perhaps the closest achievement i guess - and its rock is dodgy. But Freerider (7c?), has raised the bar. Granite cracks at that height must be brutal work.

nb - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

This ascent is insane on at least two levels, and must have been an incredible experience, but what good comes from publicising it? Most 'pro' climbers will bang on about wanting to inspire others, but Alex Honnold cannot reasonably use that justification.

That leaves financial gain (why not, but surely there are better ways) or a craving for recognition/adulation. Am I missing anything?

So this is a message for the youth: media imagery is an illusion, just another Matrix. The humble, self-effacing 'I just do this for myself' is necessary bullshit for the climbing community. Just go out and enjoy yourselves!

Not expecting many likes!


Harry Ellis - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

Or alternatively
"Careful now! Down with this sort of thing!"

I kinda agree though
Harry Ellis - on 03 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

It is amazing and at the same time disturbing. Given Steck's tragic end it rather gives one a sense of the possible end awaiting Alex.
pencilled in on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Harry Ellis:
Astounding, genuinely astounding. I wonder if there will be another open letter.

This says that there is some footage - I have a feeling that teflon corner and the boulder problem are a bit far down or high up for the cameras.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/features/athletes/alex-honnold/most-dangerous-free-solo-...
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:
> This ascent is insane on at least two levels....... but what good comes from publicising it? Most 'pro' climbers will bang on about wanting to inspire others, but Alex Honnold cannot reasonably use that justification.That leaves financial gain ......... or a craving for recognition/adulation. Am I missing anything? 'I just do this for myself' is necessary bullshit for the climbing community.

What an odd post - bollocks basically in fact. It is blatantly newsworthy in a climbing sense (whether anyone is "inspired" is not really relevant). So his sponsors are happy and Honnold gets to go on living the lifestyle he enjoys doing this sort of stuff for himself.
Post edited at 00:42
TobyA on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

The report seems to say it was all filmed by Jimmy Chin and co for Nat Geographic so your point is a good a one in the sense that he was obviously organised in getting it recorded.
FactorXXX - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

In a current world of madness, we have an example of a modest man achieving greatness - absolutely superb stuff!
aln - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Not expecting many likes!

Obviously not after posting a load of shite.
SenzuBean - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Unimaginable.

Please ask him in the interview how many times he climbed Freerider in preparation.
submariner - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

A great antidote to the tragic loss of Ueli Steck. Genuinely feel sorry for anyone who is not inspired by such an amazing achievement!
MikeTS - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Alex. This is your Jewish mother. Enough already.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to TobyA:

I think this is the first time I've seen a major media organisation control (Nat Geo) control the breaking news of a climb so tightly. Usually it gets reported on social media by an individual and goes viral in minutes. This time everyone is sharing the official article.
This required photographers being in place and probably the whole article to be written in advance, ready to go online after a few gaps are filled. Is this the future of climbing? A life or death reality show!
When you see this stage management, it all gets a bit troubling. Alex Honnold comes across as a victim - of Nat Geo's need for clicks, of our need to go 'wow' and of his own mind for needing the attention.

Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to submariner:

> Genuinely feel sorry for anyone who is not inspired by such an amazing achievement!

While I am massively impressed, I don't feel inspired in the sense that his achievement spurs me on to make any future solos of my own more likely. I imagine that, for most people, soloing is a deeply personal thing, the impulse for which only comes from within themselves; any other approach is asking for trouble. But maybe you didn't mean it like that!
john arran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

What makes you so convinced he wouldn't have been just as keen to do it without any publicity or money? If you can be paid handsomely for doing what you would be mad keen to do for nothing otherwise, I don't see a problem. It doesn't seem to me like sponsors or the media are pushing him into doing anything, or misrepresenting the sport in any way.
Pedro50 on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> Unimaginable.Please ask him in the interview how many times he climbed Freerider in preparation.

Honnold has been working Freerider since last Autumn, climbing it countless times in preparation
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Alex Honnold comes across as a victim - of Nat Geo's need for clicks, of our need to go 'wow' and of his own mind for needing the attention.

Anything but. He comes across as someone avoiding a media circus by stealth and controlling who is going to witness and film the ascent. Yes, he might have been able to nip up it without telling anyone and with no filming, but he needs to satisfy sponsors to maintain his simple climbing lifestyle.

nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

Maybe. I'm not questioning the worth of his achievement - which is outstanding - just the purpose of publicising it. I'm by no means attacking Alex Honnold. We all have to deal with the human condition as best we can and recognition seems to be a fairly basic and universal need. Probably got us out of caves, but I doubt it made anyone truly happy.

Everyone seems to be genuinely blown away by this climb, and I understand why. But the balance between personal motivation and a desire for recognition is difficult to manage and can easily get out of control.

I just don't think an unconditional display of admiration for this ascent is good for anyone.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:


> He comes across as someone avoiding a media circus by stealth and controlling who is going to witness and film the ascent. Yes, he might have been able to nip up it without telling anyone and with no filming, but he needs to satisfy sponsors to maintain his simple climbing lifestyle.

Key words = "comes across as". Nobody accidentally becomes a climbing superstar.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> I just don't think an unconditional display of admiration for this ascent is good for anyone.

It's not even necessarily admiration. Just a recognition of probably one of the most phenomenal achievements in the history of Climbing. No idea what you mean by "good for anyone".
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Key words = "comes across as". Nobody accidentally becomes a climbing superstar.

So you think that the way he "comes across" to me is cultivated to promote his superstardom? Then what about the way he "comes across" to you as a "victim"?

No, if he's a climbing superstar it's because he can get up in the morning and do stuff like soloing Freerider. Nothing more, nothing less.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> No idea what you mean by "good for anyone".

Not good for Alex Honnold, not good for youths hoping to 'make it' in climbing, not good for anyone who might feel inspired. Admittedly it's ok for old fellas like us who can just sit back and enjoy the show!

nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
> So you think that the way he "comes across" to me is cultivated to promote his superstardom? Then what about the way he "comes across" to you as a "victim"?

This is my point. Is he the humble climber who just gets up every morning and enjoys a day's soloing, or is he a fame-obsessed madman? Probably neither, probably oscillates between the two.

Unfortunately, this whole 'humble, simple guy who just goes out soloing' reminds me of Patrick Edlinger, whose life ended in tragedy.

Edit to add: He's an 'amazing climber' because he can solo Freerider. He's a 'climbing superstar' because of the media attention. Not the same thing!
Post edited at 08:57
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:
> Not good for Alex Honnold, not good for youths hoping to 'make it' in climbing, not good for anyone who might feel inspired. Admittedly it's ok for old fellas like us who can just sit back and enjoy the show!

In that case, just sit back and enjoy it without all the preachy, patronising, judgemental nonsense.
Post edited at 09:04
rjwaterton on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:
"This ascent marks the pinnacle so far of Honnold's breathtaking CV, and is undoubtedly one of the most significant ascents in the history of the sport."
I disagree with the the provocative and unbalanced way this has been reported - it's hard to get past the simple fact that the majority of people that do this stuff end up dead sooner or later. While it is undoubtedly impressive (well done for not dying!!) I don't think it should be set up as something we should somehow aspire to. And calling it one of the most significant ascents in the history of the sport - well rock climbing (and particularly free soloing!) isn't a 'sport': it's an activity, aspects of which can be regarded as a sport. From an ethical point of view it's not even that pure as it's reportedly extensively pre-practised! I think onsight ascents of significant routes are far more newsworthy/ to be celebrated in the climbing press.
Discuss!
1poundSOCKS - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> the balance between personal motivation and a desire for recognition

Not mutually exclusive though. Yosemite climbing has always been very competitive, speed records and a desire to "prove yourself" by pushing things a bit further.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> In that case, just sit back and enjoy it without all the preachy, patronising, judgemental bollocks.

Yeah, you're right. Don't want anyone doubting, do we, or asking awkward questions?

WELL DONE ALEX, f*cking inspirational!!!! You're a MACHINE!! What an achievement!!! ;)
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to rjwaterton:

> I don't think it should be set up as something we should somehow aspire to.

Who and where is anybody setting it up as something anybody should aspire too?

Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> He's an 'amazing climber' because he can solo Freerider. He's a 'climbing superstar' because of the media attention. Not the same thing!

He gets the attention because he is an amazing climber. He is the real deal, not a package manufactured by the media.

Adrien - on 04 Jun 2017
Massively impressed by this feat, especially since I didn't see it coming (maybe I was the only one though! And I did read his book too...), what a shock when it popped up on my Facebook page! I find it inspiring as well, not because it makes me want to solo hard stuff, but because it makes me want to get out and achieve my own goals. Well done Alex!

In reply to nb:

> Unfortunately, this whole 'humble, simple guy who just goes out soloing' reminds me of Patrick Edlinger, whose life ended in tragedy.

Huh? Edlinger died falling in a staircase. Maybe you mean John Bachar?
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Adrien:

> Huh? Edlinger died falling in a staircase.

Exactly!


TobyA on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> He gets the attention because he is an amazing climber. He is the real deal, not a package manufactured by the media.

Who would you say is the opposite? Honnold seems to work very smartly with the media, both allowing him to do all the amazing stuff he does and seemingly to do good development work through his charity, but at the same time I only know about all that because that's what he shares through the media.

I doubt that having a camera filming him makes any difference at all to Honnold's decision making as he climbs but nevertheless he has chosen to have them there. He is packaging himself.

This remains a gobsmacking achievement though. Aren't these routes about 30 pitches, and this one up to 7cish?!
jon on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

Just imagine the confusion, disappointment, anger, mixed emotions on this thread if Alex was sponsored by Coca Cola...
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Adrien:
Sorry for being cryptic in my last reply. Edlinger suffered from mental health issues towards the end of his life, which is why I described it as tragic.

Post edited at 10:25
WVRox - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Clearly a mind blowing achievement on a physical and mental level. Most people seem to agree that AH comes across as a really good bloke, and I guess one reason why some people feel uncomfortable about reading about such exploits is that they really don't want to read the headline informing the world of his death..... But what do we expect? For him to announce his 'retirement'? I think not! Our sport is full of 'heroics' and tragedy. What's the difference between AH pushing the limits this way and say Boardman and Tasker pushing it out in the Himalaya all those years ago?
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Sorry for being cryptic in my last reply. Edlinger suffered from mental health issues towards the end of his life, which is why I described the end as tragic.

Then wtf is your comparison of Honnold with Edlinger all about then?
olddirtydoggy - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

There's only so many of these things he's going to get away with before the front page announces his passing. What he does is on another level but this can't go on. Should it be a concern that the inspiration to new, young climbers could end in some deaths? The sport can be dangerous but to what end?
There's been some pretty split opinions here but I doubt the negative posts are coming from judgement but rather concern.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

> Just imagine the confusion, disappointment, anger, mixed emotions on this thread if Alex was sponsored by Coca Cola...

I think the fuss about Ashima's Coca Cola sponsorship was amplified by the feeling that, being so young, she might be to some extent a victim of her sponsor - yes, maybe being "packaged". Honnold is an adult who I am sure can answer for his commercial decisions himself.
keith-ratcliffe on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:
I have been quite surprised by the direction this thread has taken - I expected more of the recognition than the criticism. This ascent was just waiting to happen - it was a case of when, not if and the question of who was also probably resolved. Anyone who has read climbing news over the last few years will have seen reference to the free solo of a route on El Capitan as the next great challenge. There was much talk of it after Tommy Caldwell & Jorgen Sorenson's Dawn Wall climb. Alex Honnold has come to prominence through free soloing big walls so it was inevitable that he would be person to step up to the mark.

Many people have free climbed Freerider with ropes, some may have done it without falling so as a physical achievement it is perhaps less surprising. What sets it aside is the mental aspect of controlling fear, keeping calm, even just remembering the tricky moves and having the confidence to do it. This I believe is remarkable and I salute Alex Honnold for doing it. It may be in a different league to what the majority of recreational climbers call climbing and but it is still climbing and deserves recognition. I climb for pleasure and enjoy doing so and I understand the unease that many people have surrounding the involvement of commercial interests in our activity (at my level it is not a sport) so perhaps the mixed reaction is to be expected.

Having read his book I detect that he is more comfortable in his own company than in a social context and that soloing was an obvious conclusion of his climbing development. He got better at it and that got him recognised and that allowed him a paid way to climb. With that comes the responsibility of doing the job for the sponsors. The involvement of National Geographic is interesting - they have a huge influence in the media and I suspect that biggest challenge faced by Alex was managing their involvement. If they forced the pace then it could be dismissed as a stunt - done to sell copy. However if Alex was in the driving seat then I think it becomes more recognisable as the pinnacle of a climbing career suitably recorded for posterity. I truly hope it is the latter but whatever it is I suspect that he is pleased to have done it but glad that it is over.

As for references to Alex's CV - I thought that a CV was something you maintained to secure your future - I hope that is the case for him and that it is not a precis for his obituary.
Greasy Prusiks on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to AlanLittle:

Thanks.
1poundSOCKS - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think the fuss about Ashima's Coca Cola sponsorship was amplified by the feeling that, being so young, she might be to some extent a victim of her sponsor

Not even necessarily Ashima being the victim, but her influence on others. Coca Cola obviously expect to profit from the deal.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Then wtf is your comparison of Honnold with Edlinger all about then?

Talent. Motivation. Soloing. Media. Image. Fame. Adulation. Mental health?

Rick Graham on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think the fuss about Ashima's Coca Cola sponsorship was amplified by the feeling that, being so young, she might be to some extent a victim of her sponsor - yes, maybe being "packaged". Honnold is an adult who I am sure can answer for his commercial decisions himself.

And nothing to do about sugary fizzy drinks being the cause of tooth decay and child obesity, only perhaps acceptable in moderation and combined with an otherwise healthy active lifestyle?
ericinbristol - on 04 Jun 2017
ads.ukclimbing.com
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

> Should it be a concern that the inspiration to new, young climbers could end in some deaths? The sport can be dangerous but to what end?

Climbing and mountaineering has always had its dangers and deaths and always will. My concern is that people seem to be suggesting some kind of censorship of climbing news to pander to some people's sensibilities. Honnold is an adult totally in control of what he chooses to do and aware of the risks. And the rest of us are perfectly capable of hearing about Honnold's and others' climbs without losing control of our own choices.

Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

> And nothing to do about sugary fizzy drinks being the cause of tooth decay and child obesity......

To do with this as well, obviously. I said "amplified" by her youth.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Talent. Motivation. Soloing. Media. Image. Fame. Adulation. Mental health?

Ah, so you are extrapolating the similarities to suggest that Honnold has or is in line for mental health problems? Good grief.......
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> My concern is that people seem to be suggesting some kind of censorship of climbing news to pander to some people's sensibilities.

To make it clear, I have never suggested this news be censored. It's obviously newsworthy for the climbing world. Just questioning the reasons behind the extensive and carefully managed media coverage.

As John Arran said: "a thread full of congratulatory emptiness gets pretty dull very quickly"!
bedspring on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

A great achievement.
People seem rather concerned about him falling off, well unless he lands on someone, its up to him, but this could be worse than him falling of and landing on you https://overcast.fm/+BmGXMYPGA/29:01
beverooni on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> This is my point. Is he the humble climber who just gets up every morning and enjoys a day's soloing....Unfortunately, this whole 'humble, simple guy who just goes out soloing' reminds me of Patrick Edlinger, whose life ended in tragedy.

This is crass.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> To make it clear, I have never suggested this news be censored.

Ok. But others seem to be suggesting we should be sheltered from the coverage.

> Just questioning the reasons behind the extensive and carefully managed media coverage.

And I think you are reading things into it for which there is no evidence.

> As John Arran said: "a thread full of congratulatory emptiness gets pretty dull very quickly"!

I couldn't agree more.

nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Ah, so you are extrapolating the similarities to suggest that Honnold has or is in line for mental health problems?

Debates should always end with a question! ;)

Scotch Bingington - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Sorry for being wrong in my last reply.

FTFY. You're welcome!
Rick Graham on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> To make it clear, I have never suggested this news be censored. It's obviously newsworthy for the climbing world. Just questioning the reasons behind the extensive and carefully managed media coverage.

Disturbing on many aspects, this event.

Nat Geo appear to be very careful with their involvement with AH and his soloing.

I wonder how the magazine would read if the news had not been good?

Presumably all outcomes would have been written in advance.
Alternatively Nat Geo were the highest bidder when the deed and filming were in the can.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Debates should always end with a question! ;)

And so you're dodging it?
Derek Ryden - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

When Alex gave a talk in Wales last year I took the opportunity to ask him the question on so many people's minds - something along the lines of "Since soloing is what has made you famous, and continues to give you publicity and hence fund your lifestyle, do you feel a pressure to keep it up, when otherwise you might wish not to, and do you think you will stop at some stage". His reply gave me the impression that he almost didn't understand the question; my feeling was that he is very very far from being pressured into doing things he doesn't want to by sponsors or anyone else. Just as Alex's physiological response to stress is so minimal as to be almost pathological (as demonstrated via brain scans), I think he is also unusually immune to social pressures, including that from sponsors etc. In answer to the second part of the question, he felt he COULD forsee a time when he wouldn't be taking such extreme risks. I, for one, hope that as he moves through his thirties, some of the youthful, risk-taking hormones will subside so that in thirty years' time we can all enjoy hearing him reminisce about the excesses of his youth!
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Scotch Bingington:

Thanks Scotch, but actually 'cryptic' was what I meant. Edlinger's fall may have been linked to his mental illness, but let's not get into that.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> And so you're dodging it?

Just think it's best left as a question.
olddirtydoggy - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
I agree with this but the reporting might need a degree of warning to readers that this type of climbing is extremely dangerous. Honold is sometimes described as a 'rockstar' and that image is something younger, impressionable climbers can sometimes aspire to. Whilst inspiration is a good thing, it would be sad if young soloists lose their lives as a result of pushing past a comfortable level. AH has climbed that thing to death before doing this and that should be stressed.
I was surprised in the states how many are free soloing. On one crag we saw a bloke snap his ankle after taking a fall and that was 2 days into the trip. On Cathedral peak it was covered in soloists, climbing lines much harder than we were doing with ropes and helmets. This style of climbing is huge over there and it might be a concern. You don't get your time again.
Post edited at 11:49
john arran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

> I agree with this but the reporting might need a degree of warning to readers that this type of climbing is extremely dangerous.

Should bold trad ascents be reported with a similar warning? How about DWSs? Or are you proposing that the arbitrary line in the sand you seem to be keen to draw should be adopted as the norm for the whole climbing community?
olddirtydoggy - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

There's always risk but a free solo of such an exposed route will kill you if you slip, no possible chance of injury, just death. Articles shouldn't be over cautious when reporting but this type of climbing is in another category. I'm not proposing any lines in the sand or setting rules. The praise and glorification on this type of climbing should be balanced.Just an opinion. Dead is bad.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to olddirtydoggy:
> I agree with this but the reporting might need a degree of warning to readers that this type of climbing is extremely dangerous.

That is ridiculous. I really don't believe that anybody could watch a film of anybody soloing without being able to work out for themselves that consequences of something going wrong are going to be very serious and probably fatal. It would just be insulting climbers' intelligence. If anything I'd probably be more concerned about films of forms of climbing where the risks are more subtle.
Post edited at 12:01
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Just think it's best left as a question.

Ok. I'll draw my own conclusions which are pretty damning.
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> That is ridiculous. I really don't believe that anybody could watch a film of anybody soloing without being able to work out for themselves that consequences of something going wrong are going to be very serious and probably fatal.

I totally agree with you here Robert!!

However, if the route has been extensively pre-practised beforehand, that information should be made abundantly clear. Don't think that's the case in the Nat Geo article, although we do get full details of his breakfast!
nb - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Ok. I'll draw my own conclusions which are pretty damning.

:D Damned by Robert Durran on UKC! I've known worse!!
olddirtydoggy - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

Have you never been caught up in a moment or done anything irrational before? Not just climbing but anything. As a teen I was wore things to copy those I aspired to, it influenced my attitude. As I got older I developed a more balanced view of the wider world. It's easy to forget as we age how impressionable we all were. The vast majority of us reading this climb report will completely understand the risk and what AH has done. Lets shout this feat from the rooftops but remind the implications of what one slip means.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> However, if the route has been extensively pre-practised beforehand, that information should be made abundantly clear. Don't think that's the case in the Nat Geo article.

"He also spends hours perfecting, rehearsing, and memorizing exact sequences of hand and foot placements for every key pitch"

Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> :D Damned by Robert Durran on UKC! I've known worse!!

Well, anyone can read your distasteful stuff for themselves and draw their own conclusions from it and from your refusal to respond when challenged on it.
olddirtydoggy - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Some of the details are coming out about the prep and how he reduces the risk. These details could be in a follow up report. Always funny reading the scrapping on here. This is why we can't have nice things.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

> .............. but remind the implications of what one slip means.

It simply doesn't need doing. I can think of no form of climbing where the consequences of it going wrong are so blatantly clear - probably even to a child, let alone a teenager. If anything, unnecessarily and explicitly drawing attention to the blindingly obvious might come across as glamourising it (I actually thought the "most dangerous" tag on the Nat Geo article might have been guilty of this). On the other hand, a film showing someone walking unroped across a glacier might warrant a health warning.

submariner - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

Of course I didn't mean inspiring in the emulatory sense, I mean it exactly in the sense Pete Whittaker has posted, saving me the effort.

These kind of solos obviously scare some people but that's their problem. Its an inspirational achievement!!
olddirtydoggy - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

You underestimate the stupidity of a very tiny minority of some people.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to submariner:

> Of course I didn't mean inspiring in the emulatory sense, I mean it exactly in the sense Pete Whittaker has posted, saving me the effort.

Agreed then!
Michael Gordon - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

> I have been quite surprised by the direction this thread has taken - I expected more of the recognition than the criticism.


Me too. A bit sad really!


The involvement of National Geographic is interesting - they have a huge influence in the media and I suspect that biggest challenge faced by Alex was managing their involvement. If they forced the pace then it could be dismissed as a stunt - done to sell copy. However if Alex was in the driving seat then I think it becomes more recognisable as the pinnacle of a climbing career suitably recorded for posterity. I truly hope it is the latter but whatever it is I suspect that he is pleased to have done it but glad that it is over.

Good post. "This past November, Honnold made his first attempt at the free solo, but backed off after less than an hour of climbing because conditions did not feel right." Hopefully this quote is evidence it is indeed the latter.
jonnie3430 - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Irelando:

> I don't actually agree with soloing as a discipline...

But we're there for the climbing, not the stopping at the end of every rope length or the faffing with gear. His achievement is an expression of pure climbing. It must have felt amazing to just keep on climbing like that, only stopping when you want to. Well done him, he probably only got the film and photos done so he didn't have to come back again after, like he did for half dome.
LeeWood - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to beverooni:
> This is crass.

Quite. Who says its a tragedy to go our like a firework ? I'd say its more of a tragedy to end up with cancer, altzheimers or on life support - which counts for a huge % of folk climbers or not.
Post edited at 13:46
Smith42 on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Well done Alex! Absolutely mind bending achievement. inspirational stuff, dream big then realise it.
Michael Gordon - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to jonnie3430:

> But we're there for the climbing, not the stopping at the end of every rope length or the faffing with gear. His achievement is an expression of pure climbing. It must have felt amazing to just keep on climbing like that, only stopping when you want to.

Exactly. It's also such a cool thing to be able to rock up at such a cliff just with shoes and chalk bag, considering how much gear, food, water, portaledge, haul bags etc are usually required. Of course, all the organisational effort and faff has simply happened in advance (rather than not at all), but the beauty of the final ascent is undiminished.
climbnplay on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

Man you are so wrapped up in your silly old head. Have you ever met Alex?! He is just psyched about a day out on rock, with friends or alone, and is absolutely the epitome of a nonchalant climber. You are sounding so petty with all your hypotheses. Alex does what he wants because he can, and you are being an armchair cynic because he is operating at a level much higher than you can wrap your head around.
jon on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to climbnplay:

> and you are being an armchair cynic

Hmmm, you clearly don't know Neil

Patrick Roman - on 04 Jun 2017
John2 - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

I know someone who used to climb with Edlinger. He seems to have been something of an Andy Pollit figure - he'd climb all day then return to his house near the crag and drink beer all evening.
TobyA on 04 Jun 2017
don macb on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

this comments thread though... ffs.
Derek Ryden - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:
"Many people have free climbed Freerider with ropes, some may have done it without falling so as a physical achievement it is perhaps less surprising."

Yes, but most people who free the route are able to rest on the bolts at each belay. Having seen Pete Whittaker's talk on his roped solo of the route, some of the belays are more-or-less hanging belays. So to me it appears that the endurance required to solo it with no real rest between some of the pitches is on a different level than "merely" freeing it on a rope.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong - I have no first-hand experience of the route.
Shani - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Thanks for sharing.
#4fs - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

It's like watching someone with mental health problems slowly destroy themselves. You can see what's coming but are powerless to stop it. I don't want Honnold in my news. It's bad stuff.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to Patrick Roman:

> Those of a nervous disposition should look away now: https://www.instagram.com/p/BU7HGGaDS9c/?hl=en

Surely destined to become one of the iconic historic rock climbing photographs.
Robert Durran - on 04 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

> It's like watching someone with mental health problems slowly destroy themselves.

This repeated comparison with mental illness is completely absurd and distasteful so please can it stop.
#4fs - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

The repeated applause of Alex Honnold is completely absurd and distasteful, so please can it stop.
bouldery bits - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Yeah, but what's he done on grit?

Oh yeah... Loads.
john arran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

> The repeated applause of Alex Honnold is completely absurd and distasteful, so please can it stop.

Would you applaud an onsight lead of Indian Face?

Different style, but possibly similar risk.
neilwiltshire on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

He is a professional climber. Why shouldn't he do it for financial gain? That's literally how he earns a living.
Scotch Bingington - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

> Would you applaud an onsight lead of Indian Face?Different style, but possibly similar risk.

Would it be a similar risk for an IF onsight? I was thinking might be similar risk for the way IF has been climbed so far, and an onsight rather more dangerous than AH's freerider solo. Obviously your opinion is way more valid than mine - which is why I'm asking.
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rjwaterton on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

The hyperbole in the headline paragraph of the article is obvious for all to see. I'm not concerned about the opinions of very experienced and knowledgeable climbers like yourself - it's the general public dipping in to the article to find out more about an extraordinary ascent. I think it's over glamourising what's been done and normalises what is pretty extreme behaviour in the eyes of the public - climbers as a whole get labelled with this stuff. I stick to my original point that the reporting on this needs to be extra careful and more balanced.
1poundSOCKS - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to rjwaterton:

> The hyperbole in the headline paragraph of the article is obvious for all to see.

Which bit do you think is hyperbole?
john arran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Scotch Bingington:

> Would it be a similar risk for an IF onsight? I was thinking might be similar risk for the way IF has been climbed so far, and an onsight rather more dangerous than AH's freerider solo. Obviously your opinion is way more valid than mine - which is why I'm asking.

Since I've been on neither route, I'm very much guessing. Doesn't seem an unreasonable comparison though, seeing as both are only just about credible at today's standards but only by the world's very best and only if hugely motivated.

But that wasn't really the point I was making. The idea that an incredible achievement shouldn't be lauded 'because' a rope wasn't used doesn't stand up logically, given the full spectrum of dangers and risks in many other branches of climbing.
Nick Brown - UKC - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to rjwaterton:

I’m afraid I completely disagree with you and an ascent of this magnitude needs some context to describe exactly how important the climb was. I don’t think this article normalises Alex’s ascent – far from it - I believe it shows how unique he is and the uniqueness of his ascent. To many climbers, soloing is an incredibly important part of the sport and there are few ascents that have moved any aspect of climbing on quite as much as what Alex Honnold has just done. The level of skill required to prepare, to climb efficiently and to keep your head cool is fascinating. To have the audacity to climb one of the most iconic faces in the world, without ropes, at a level most people can only dream of is surely significant.
simes303 - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Talent. Motivation. Soloing. Media. Image. Fame. Adulation. Mental health?

You really haven't said anything in this thread that's worth reading.
What's your problem?
Si.
Michael Gordon - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Scotch Bingington:

> Would it be a similar risk for an IF onsight? I was thinking might be similar risk for the way IF has been climbed so far, and an onsight rather more dangerous than AH's freerider solo.

From another armchair user (with regards to these sorts of routes) I would think that Indian Face headpoint must be a significantly easier proposition than a headpoint of a big route of this caliber. If for no other reason than that IF is not too different in commitment terms to many other single pitch E9+ routes, which unlike this ascent are viable propositions to a fair number of climbers, and IF itself has seen 6 repeats since 1986.
#4fs - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

No.

All hardcore soloists die.

Btw, I think what Honnold does and the ascents, to date, of IF have little in common. Honnolds métier is extreme risk. I would argue that isn't the Essential for those who have done IF.

It seems to me Honnold has about as much to do with climbing as Evil Knevil had to with motorbikes. That is, his activity is a lot lot more about the risk than the climbing. The climbing is just the medium.

Scotch Bingington - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> IF is not too different in commitment terms to many other single pitch E9+ routes

Not so sure about that. If that were so then, given its status, maybe would have had more ascents than it has had. I'll ask one of the ascensionists next time I see him.

john arran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

> No. All hardcore soloists die.

Assuming you mean they die soloing, I'm afraid I'm living proof that this statement is false. You also seem to be confusing danger with risk, and misunderstanding my Indian Face example.

Karl Bromelow on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:
"Honnold has about as much to do with climbing as Evil Knevil had to with motorbikes. That is, his activity is a lot lot more about the risk than the climbing. The climbing is just the medium."

Goodness me. What nonsense.

Also, when did Peter Croft die? I hadn't heard.

Now back to the real world, there's a nice interview here between friends displaying no obvious mental health issues.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/features/athletes/alex-honnold/interview-rope-free-solo-...

I think some people on here have decided to be outraged in a funny UKIP supporter kind of way. I, like the rest, was hugely impressed by Alex's achievement and would like to offer him my congratulations on living one of his dreams.
Post edited at 12:23
John2 - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

'All hardcore soloists die'

We all die, actually.
Shani - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

> I would argue that isn't the Essential for those who have done IF.It seems to me Honnold has about as much to do with climbing as Evil Knevil had to with motorbikes.

I would say that that statement would match Alain Robert way more than Hannold. Hannold has done plenty of hard soloing under the radar.

I think the problem here is that you are 'projecting' your own fears and inclinations; Clearly he doesn't get aroused by fear at this height the way the rest of us do, and so his solo of a route he has practiced on El Cap was probably no harder and no scarier than his onsight of London Wall.

But for the rest of us, soloing anything at that height would be alarming. Heck, even watching Mustang Wanted hanging one-handed from a 300ft crane-arm gets my hands sweaty, even though I know I have soloed stuff he couldn't possibly do and in and of itself, hanging by one hand is easy for me.

Looking at it another way, does Lewis Hamilton's fast driving have more to do with risk than the love of motor racing?
1poundSOCKS - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Karl Bromelow:

> I think some people on here have decided to be outraged in a funny UKIP supporter kind of way.

It does feel that UKC has gone a bit Daily Mail here. There'll be kids inspired by Honold out climbing trees with no ropes, like they never used to in the past.
LeeWood - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

> Honnolds métier is extreme risk.

Interesting to compare this top-end soloing with Himalayan climbing - do we have mortality stats ? In the latter folk push themselves into the UNKNOWN objective and subjective odds, while Honnold with remarkable self-control and photographic memory repeats a well rehearsed act on entirley known terrain. I suspect greater odds in the Himalayas.

Given that AH has this incredible incrdible mind control - that leaves objective dangers; what could go wrong ? rockbreak, rockfall, weather change, surprise intrusion from bird / human presence ....
Goucho on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Just got back from three weeks in Bhutan, to the news of Alex Honnold's spectacular solo of Freerider.

So I thought I'd check on here to see how this landmark ascent was being greeted.

I suppose I should have known better.

It would appear that for some people, being an armchair dickhead, is a lifestyle choice.

Anyway, massive congratulations to Mr Honnold, on an ascent of historic significance and completely beyond my comprehension.
pasbury on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

> No. All hardcore soloists die. Btw, I think what Honnold does and the ascents, to date, of IF have little in common. Honnolds métier is extreme risk. I would argue that isn't the Essential for those who have done IF.It seems to me Honnold has about as much to do with climbing as Evil Knevil had to with motorbikes. That is, his activity is a lot lot more about the risk than the climbing. The climbing is just the medium.

The biggest pile of shit I've read on here in quite a while.
Shani - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Karl Bromelow:

"...I want to eat some lunch, I want to get in the shade and then I’m probably going to hang board in a bit. I am perfectly warmed up, I just did four hours’ light exercise, you know?"

Cool as f*ck.
Steve Perry - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

A great personal achievement and belief in his own mental strength and integrity. I imagine with a person like Honnold, that once the idea of soloing the route got into his head, there was only one way to exorcise it. Nice one!
Ciro - on 05 Jun 2017
Chris the Tall - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

You wrote an excellent article in OTE some years back - would be worth seeing if UKC could post it

I think many people don't understand the mental state you can get into - whereby you are able to disregard the consequences of failure because you know you aren't going to fail. Not every climber (or skiier, or mountain biker) will seek out situations where the consequence of failure would be fatal, but I'm sure we all all have a level where we can be 100% (or maybe 99.99%) confident that we won't fail.

I never got far into the E grades, but there are plenty of VS and HVSs that I could confidently solo. So if a punter like me could solo quite close to my limit, then it's not that surprising that a full-time top-class athlete could do the same.

Which is not to say it isn't an awesome achievement - it most definitely is - but it's more calculated and less reckless than some people seem to think.
Michael Gordon - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Scotch Bingington:
> Not so sure about that. If that were so then, given its status, maybe would have had more ascents than it has had. I'll ask one of the ascensionists next time I see him.

I'd be interested to hear the reply. I'm not sure other top end routes have had much more in the way of ascents than this one.
Post edited at 13:07
John2 - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

No hyperbole in the Times report of this ascent - 'Climber scales huge cliff without ropes'.
#4fs - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to pasbury:

Apologies for offending you. I assure you my opinion is of no importance.
nb - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to neilwiltshire:

> He is a professional climber. Why shouldn't he do it for financial gain? That's literally how he earns a living.

That's what my comment says! It's the only justification for publicising the ascent that makes any sense to me. Given that Honnold's media reach goes far beyond the climbing community I'm guessing he's one of only a very few climbers who can make a decent living out of the game.

But most people who call themselves 'pro-climbers' would be better off doing 3 months rope access work on an oil rig every year, and have 9 months of true freedom, climbing where and when they want without any pressure from sponsors.

Honnold says he's realised the dream of a lifetime. Now if that dream involved soloing past a bunch of photographers and remote-controlled cameras, that is one f*cked-up dream. If he dreamt of rolling up one day when the stars were aligned, and climbing alone and free on El Cap headwall with nothing but space beneath him (if I really try, I can just about feel it!), then Saturday's ascent must have felt somewhat tainted. I hope he earned a small fortune.
pasbury on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to #4fs:

You didn't offend me at all.

Don't presume to know someone else's motivations - Honnold deals with risk, that doesn't mean that the risk is an end in itself.
Not all extreme soloists are dead.
What he does is ONLY to do with climbing.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Shani - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

The other side of the coin is that for such a massive claim he'd need to evidence the ascent. Quite rightly people claim first ascents of routes particularly last great problems, and other significant climbing events, be it Indian Face or the first ascent of the Old Man of Hoy - and no one questions the motivations of doing this (in fact, given recent hisotry, it is all but mandatory).

Whilst I'd be happy to see a single photographic plate/image of Honnold's ascent, I am more than happy to watch a National Geographic special in HD on the whole thing. If Honnold gets $250k in the process then good luck to him. There is money to be made from even a single image of this - and I would rather the money went to Honnold than anyone else.

Can't believe that Trump hasn't called Honnold. Perhaps Obama can do the needful once more....?
nb - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Shani:

> The other side of the coin is that for such a massive claim he'd need to evidence the ascent.

Claim?! That's an eye-opener. There was me banging on about climbing dreams. I'm starting to get why my comments are so unpopular!
Shani - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:
> Claim?! That's an eye-opener. There was me banging on about climbing dreams. I'm starting to get why my comments are so unpopular!

As with all insular communities you can imagine some climbers in a bar:

C1: "Honnold soloed El Cap."
C2: "Bullshit. Prove it."
C1: "Ah man, he didn't want to take any photos or anything."
C2: "Big claims require strong evidence. No way he did that."

Next thing you know C2 tells C3, and now Honnold is being collared by skeptics,

C3: "You soloed El Cap?"
AH: "Yeah."
C3: "Bullshit. How come no photos?"
AH: "I was soloing dude...."
C3: "Everyone has a camera today - on their phone. You got a phone. You could easily have got a single photo."
AH: "I just wanted to climb, you know? Soloing El Cap has been a dream of mine...."

Next thing a thread pops up on UKC questioning AH's integrity,

C3: "AH is making some outlandish claims about soloing El Cap."
UKC: "Freerider? Is that E0?"
C3: "Wha...?
UKC: "What's he done on grit?"
Post edited at 16:07
simes303 - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Claim?! That's an eye-opener. There was me banging on about climbing dreams. I'm starting to get why my comments are so unpopular!

Your comments are unpopular because you're just spouting crap.
tripehound - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Lets face it it would only get severe at Bowden Doors.????
1poundSOCKS - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to simes303:

> Your comments are unpopular because you're just spouting crap.

I think there's a certain sense of bitterness in the comments for some reason. Alex seems to be loving his life, and making a few compromises (like we all have to) so he can live that life.

Ironic that some people who are criticising the media attention seem to be judging him by what they see in the media. I would imagine 99% of what Alex does doesn't even appear in the media.
radddogg - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

But what has he done on grit???








(Yes I know, a lot actually!)
Rock to Fakey - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Pedro50:

> Honnold has been working Freerider since last Autumn, climbing it countless times in preparation

Yes but most of us can count to a high enough number, surely?

42.
Olaf Prot - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I'm not entirely sure what all the fuss is about - from the National Geographic pictures it seems to have a hands off rest half way up??
Goucho on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> I think there's a certain sense of bitterness in the comments for some reason. Alex seems to be loving his life, and making a few compromises (like we all have to) so he can live that life.Ironic that some people who are criticising the media attention seem to be judging him by what they see in the media. I would imagine 99% of what Alex does doesn't even appear in the media.

I think the wonderful irony, is that those doing the criticising, are the equivalent of a learner driver after their first lesson, offering up a critique on Lewis Hamilton.

But at the end of the day, let's not forget, this is UKC.
ChrisBrooke - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I read the NatGeo interview then looked at Tom's pictures on El Cap Report and just tried to visualise what it must have been like up there with no ropes. My palms are involuntarily sweating, and I actually feel like crying. I'm not trying to be funny of trivial - I had an emotional response to looking at it and am in genuine awe at what he's done.
And of course I love his 'I'm warmed up for a fingerboard session' comments. While I've no doubt he's serious, I'm also sure he's self-aware enough to be playing it up a bit for the interview
#4fs - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to pasbury:

I didn't withdraw my opinion.

I may inadvertently presume but never patronise.
Rock to Fakey - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
> He gets the attention because he is an amazing climber. He is the real deal, not a package manufactured by the media.

Actually, he only gets the attention because people find out about it.
He tells at least 1 person afterwards, and not like he's sharing a secret. He doesn't keep it secret. It's not personal, it's public. I'm not saying that's wrong, it's up to him.
I would share it too. I shared doing my hardest solo, nothing special, but with this, it would be wrong not to share it . It is an amazing achievement. I'm glad it doesn't inspire me to do anything similar though, or to even get out of bed!
It's unavoidable + kind of bad in a way that there has to be a media outlet for this, but only because it will inspire some people to get on with similar attempts + repeats, possibly just driven by the desire for attention, even if alex isn't.
But no matter how good a climber, there is always a gamble with luck. Some are inspired by the media attention, even on short daring solos. The consequences can be just as deadly. Some get unlucky.
Let's hope he stops now (?) . There's probably a greater challenge out there, i don't know, is there? , maybe for him now, or someone else in the future,... but does he want to go down in history and survive / live on, or would he rather be ok/ happy to die climbing, living + doing what he loves (?) doing? He has to stop somewhere to stay alive, or continue gambling but remain incredibly lucky.
Hopefully giving up altogether (the solos), cos even if chilled out n scaled down an easy short thing could end all.
It's totally his choice, like with anyone who chooses to do a high wire walk.
Post edited at 17:18
Rock to Fakey - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

>... such a cool thing to be able to rock up at such a cliff just with shoes and chalk bag....

How big a chalk bag do u need for this kind of solo, or does one arrange them to be pre placed en route, or handed over each few pitches, like water bottles on a marathon, by people on hanging stances?
Do i need a hydration bag too?
Just wondering for future reference, getting psyched now.

Michael Gordon - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Rock to Fakey:

Well, it does seem he left food and water at certain spots en route.
Rock to Fakey - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> - but it's more calculated and less reckless than some people seem to think.

Chance of 1 hand /foot holds breaking if 20 used = small
200 holds, more chance of 1 breaking
2000 holds.... etc
eventually, snap / crumble.

Perhaps doesn't apply like that much with smears, unless on pebbles / crystals, minute edges, or on jams in a solid crack,... i don't know how much is crack vs wall.
stp - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to rjwaterton:

> and normalises what is pretty extreme behaviour in the eyes of the public - climbers as a whole get labelled with this stuff.

But since when does anyone give a s*&t what the public thinks about what is and what is not normal in climbing? I think most of the public don't have a clue anyway.
hwackerhage - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am in awe that Alex can perform physically and mentally at this level. He also seems like an exceptionally nice guy in the videos. Not sure though about the cameras and photographers documenting every move he does ...

On the other hand, it seems almost inevitable to me (and others might think different) that something is going to happen sooner or later. These words are, of course, a euphemism. But even if it happens, what should we make of it? His father died living a "safe" life of a heart attack with 55 years. We will all die and perhaps dying earlier whilst being free and doing something you love is worth it?

I hope will make it to old age and continue to inspire us with his unique ability...

andrewmc - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I don't like that soloing is celebrated (and the same goes for bold trad).

I am more impressed by the better climbers who _could_ (probably fairly easily) solo something like Freerider but choose not to. I am not unimpressed by AH's; redpointing 7c+ while hardly world standard is world's away from my standard! I am just uneasy about it and what it represents.

I am more impressed by Steve McClure's 9b - or maybe it is more true to say that I have much less mixed feelings about it.

I'm not out to stop people soloing, but I don't think it should be celebrated; the taking of risk should be a personal decision rather than encouraged. I like to think there are two kinds of risk-taking mentality:
a) You set an objective based on something OTHER than the risk, e.g. climbing some 8000m peak. You then do everything you reasonably can to reduce risk.
b) You set an objective chosen at least in part BECAUSE of the risk (an 'impressive' bold trad lead, wingsuit flying closer and closer to terrain, soloing El Cap). You then do everything you reasonably can to reduce risk EXCEPT for the thing that you originally chose your objective for.

True, option a) leads potentially to risky things, like 8000m peaks, some of which may be riskier than AH's solo. But there is no obligation to continue in that fashion.
Option B has no happy conclusion - success on one risky objective leads to another riskier and riskier activities, because that's the only way to progress when your 'success' is measured in boldness. Eventually you either give up or die, and it sounds like the climbing world would lose massively if AH makes a mistake one day.

Basically, what's next? I worry...
ChrisBrooke - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to andrewmc:

From his NatGeo interview it sounds like redpointing 9a is next. We'll find out in time, but it may very well be that this is the culmination of his big solo projects, and that while he'll continue soloing for pleasure, this may have scratched his itch for the 'spectacular '. We'll see. Up to him really.
planetmarshall on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to andrewmc:

> I don't like that soloing is celebrated (and the same goes for bold trad).I am more impressed by the better climbers who _could_ (probably fairly easily) solo something like Freerider but choose not to.

That's a rather difficult assessment to make, if you're making the assumption that just because someone can climb the technical grade of Freerider, or they have actually climbed Freerider without falling or hanging on belays, then they are necessarily capable of soloing it.

The psychological affects the physical. Who hasn't felt sweaty palmed when soloing something they could lead in trainers and boxing gloves, or conversely felt the confidence to make a move when protected by gear that wouldn't hold a bag of feathers?

I doubt there's another climber in the world who could make this climb.
cb294 - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

Employers or insurances often tend to treat climbers according to the perceived risk associated with our sport, not the real one (at least when compared to other, objectively more dangerous activities like playing Rugby). I think the climbing community has to share the blame, as we sometimes love to project a cool, unafraid, risk taking image.

Celebrating dangerous solo climbing can contribute, especially when it would not cross the mind of most of us to solo technical multi pitch routes.

CB
Patrick Roman - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

It's funny but when Alex's name comes up I often think about his Patagonian climbs, not his solos. The comment about his lack of contribution to climbing is crazy when you consider he's the only climber to have done both the Fitz and Torre traverses, and both were done with partners. He isn't the circus performer that some people imagine. And although he had Tommy Caldwell around for the Fitz Traverse, the talent required to pull something like that off on your first visit to the region is incredible. He most definitely is the real deal.

The most disturbing thing about this thread is the talk of his impending death. As objectionable as this may sound, I can't help but think that there are some who almost wish him dead so they can point out how it was inevitable (even if they do so privately).

I've found inspiration in many people over the years, including climbers. One of them was Guy Lacelle, but it'd be wrong to assume he influenced my decisions to solo. I solo because it connects with me, nothing more. I found Guy inspiring because he seemed to be modest, considerate, and hugely talented, qualities I also associate with Alex Honnold. Guy was in many ways a winter version of Alex, and it still saddens me to think of him as gone, killed not while soloing a hard ice route but by a small slide in a gully while moving between routes with his partner.

When he was asked once why he soloed, Guy answered, "It helps me feel more confident in my daily life." It wouldn't surprise me if Alex's overriding reason was the same.
Rick Graham on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> I doubt there's another climber in the world who could make this climb.

+1

I read the Nat Geo article and now feel a lot less uneasy about AH.

The years of preparation, then the balls to carry it off. More important, the sense to stop a previous attempt when the things did not feel correct.

There may be climbers stronger, fitter, more technically competent, but AH's composure without a rope is a league ahead.

Edit lot less uneasy rather than bit less
Post edited at 21:40
john arran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to andrewmc:

> I don't like that soloing is celebrated (and the same goes for bold trad).I am more impressed by the better climbers who _could_ (probably fairly easily) solo something like Freerider but choose not to. I am not unimpressed by AH's; redpointing 7c+ while hardly world standard is world's away from my standard! I am just uneasy about it and what it represents.I am more impressed by Steve McClure's 9b - or maybe it is more true to say that I have much less mixed feelings about it.

Soloing is no more celebrated than any other aspect of climbing, and I believe we're seeing a very fair response in the climbing media based on the genuine impressiveness of the ascent. By the way, I think you may have mistaken Honnold's best redpoint grade to be 7c+ when it's actually 8c+, which is a world away from the grades he's choosing to solo. What this ascent 'represents' is a climber not far from the top of the physical tree, but with an ability to completely judge his own ability and to make absolutely sure he climbs within it. That is a very impressive skill and one certainly worthy of admiration. The analogy with motor racing is a good one, in that some drivers may be able to go a fair bit faster on an individual lap, given enough tries, but the race winner will be the one that perhaps goes a little slower on average but never makes a major mistake and therefore makes it intact to the end of the race/season/career.
ads.ukclimbing.com
pec on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:
This is quite an interesting article which gives an insight (literally) into the mind of Alex Honnold which goes some way to explain how and why he does this sort of thing
http://nautil.us/issue/39/sport/the-strange-brain-of-the-worlds-greatest-solo-climber.
Make of it what you will, I find it mildly disturbing.
Post edited at 23:06
TobyA on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Patrick Roman:

I think the unease some of us feel is exactly the opposite - AH comes over as a really nice (and interesting) chap - it would be very sad if something went wrong. I suppose rather like the genuine sadness many felt with Steck's recent tragic accident well beyond people he knew or had met.

I remember watching the film of Honnold solo Moonlight Buttress in the cinema when Reel Rock whichever was on tour. I of course knew the outcome, but still found it utterly gripping and terrifying to watch, but I also knew I didn't want to watch it again. I don't think I want to watch this one when it comes out, although I see why the film will be a celebration of one of the most incredible adventure achievements of the decade (century? ever?!).
estivoautumnal - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

> I have been quite surprised by the direction this thread has taken -

Oh, don't be. this is UKC. Full of armchair windbags, complaining about pedantic semantics while (or is that whilst) barely climbing out of their beds in the morning.

Already we have people complaining about sugery drinks from their high moral positions of lofty middle class tw*t-perches. So f*cking-what if cola provides income for cash-strapped climbers? I could go on, but I won't.
Robert Durran - on 05 Jun 2017
In reply to Rock to Fakey:

> How big a chalk bag do u need for this kind of solo

One big enough to counterbalance the weight of one's balls.

But seriously, a very good question!
wynaptomos - on 06 Jun 2017

>Can't believe that Trump hasn't called Honnold. Perhaps Obama can do the needful once more....?

Don't think that Trump will want anything to do with him. To his credit, I saw that Honnold has criticised trump for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

Maybe Trump will claim that the freerider ascent is all fake news........
rgold - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

It is interesting to me to see this discussion on a UK site. I would have expected it more from a US audience. I have always thought that British climbers have understood better than most that risk is a defining characteristic of trad climbing, and that preserving risk is part of keeping trad climbing alive. From a US perspective, the fact that there are no bolts on UK Grit, in spite of some exceptionally serious leads, is a miracle, one which has allowed British climbers to make little rocks into awe-inspiring testpieces.

In response to rising difficulty levels, Brits invented and perfected head-pointing. What Honnold has done is, essentially, to head-point Free Rider (complete with tick marks). It is an astonishing achievement, not only because he has to keep it together for 37 pitches, some separated by hanging belays which means no rest for the soloist, but also because some of the climbing is extremely tenuous rather than simply strenuous. It is a level of achievement as far beyond most ordinarily-skilled climbers as those climbers are above non-climbers, which is to say beyond comprehension.

The fact remains that once you have accepted, as I think all trad climbers do at least subconsciously, that coping with risk, which means controlling one's exposure to catastrophe by employing mental, physical, and technical climbing skills, is intrinsic to the activity, then the idea that some level of controlled risk is ok and other controlled levels are not ok seems untenable to me. Honnold isn't quivering his way up a wall slapping frantically at holds, he is climbing with precision and an almost monstrous level of control beyond, I dare say, most of our imagining. Celebrating his accomplishments also celebrates our far more modest ones, and celebrating our accomplishments carries with it an acceptance of performances of unquestionable quality that may be beyond our understanding. It is part of the package we embraced when we all started down this road.

That said, as with headpointing, he is playing a game with nanoscopic margins of error. I personally wish he would quit while he is (so incredibly far) ahead, but then I don't pretend to understand either his mastery or his motivations.
andrewmc - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

> By the way, I think you may have mistaken Honnold's best redpoint grade to be 7c+ when it's actually 8c+, which is a world away from the grades he's choosing to solo.

Probably more I just failed to make any sense, so should probably try to clarify... I was taking Freerider as 7c+ as given in the UKC article, and 'redpointing' wasn't the right word. I should have said something more like headpointing a super-bold trad route which is of course harder than redpointing (as you only need to get it once redpointing, and reliably headpointing)... and perhaps I therefore slightly undergraded the difficulty in my head.

8c+ redpoint does make him pretty damn good still even if not quite at the top of the league, and as other people point out he has an almost pathological lack of fear which others lack which makes him better than others. I'm just scared on his behalf! The question was asked by me and others, 'what next'? If he does turn his attention to getting 9a sport, then great If he feels compelled or is pressured into doing the 'next big risky thing', then I worry...

(and as someone else said, the Patagonian stuff was super awesome and done in a risky style but not unnecessarily so)
Robert Durran - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to rgold:

Your third paragraph could not have been better expressed and eloquently sums up and celebrates so much about climbing.
TobyA on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

https://www.outsideonline.com/2190306/why-alex-honnolds-free-solo-scared-me.

This is very worth reading.


> Your third paragraph could not have been better expressed and eloquently sums up and celebrates so much about climbing.

Personally I don't accept what rgold calls "untenable", that bit just seems illogical to me.

Mick Ward - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to rgold:

A superb post. Thank you.

Mick
WVRox - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Just read the Tommy Caldwell article "Why Alex Honnald's Free Solo of El Cap Scared Me". He says it perfectly.
Robert Durran - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> Personally I don't accept what rgold calls "untenable", that bit just seems illogical to me.

It may be about how one interprets the phrase "controlled risk".

pec on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> https://www.outsideonline.com/2190306/why-alex-honnolds-free-solo-scared-me. This is very worth reading.Personally I don't accept what rgold calls "untenable", that bit just seems illogical to me. >

That link doesn't seem to work, if not try this
https://www.outsideonline.com/2190306/why-alex-honnolds-free-solo-scared-me
Reading it confirms my thoughts upon reading the article I linked to a little way above.
Patrick Roman - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It may be about how one interprets the phrase "controlled risk".

Absolutely. There's still this majority opinion that solos like Freerider and The Fish are seen as maximum risk because they're at the top end of the scale. It's just not true. There are people out there every day tackling far easier routes with partners who are taking much greater risks because of various factors such as experience (lack of), unfamiliarity, poor physical condition etc.

I understand where Tommy Caldwell is coming from in his article but I object to this need some people have to throw a blanket around climbers like Alex and want to protect them (as if they need protecting from others). The irony is that often the greatest risks will lie within themselves, their partners or the guys climbing next to them at their local crag.

Alex's own words on risk:

https://www.vimeo.com/84716329
Robert Durran - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Patrick Roman:

> I understand where Tommy Caldwell is coming from in his article.

I am sure we all do. Honnold is so far ahead of the field in his ability to free solo safely (and I choose that word carefully), that even world class climbers struggle to get their head around it. in a similar way, how many climbers can get their head round Ondra's sport climbing ability? But that is not contentious because there's no "risk" involved.
Michael Gordon - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to pec:

Great article, thanks. Really puts it in perspective from another top climber, i.e. hard to comprehend no matter who you are!
LeeWood - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to rgold:

Good comentary however

> Celebrating his accomplishments also celebrates our far more modest ones,

Can't see the sense in this. Honnold is in a league of his own. The level at which we normal mortals operate at will only ever be appreciated and celebrated by our closest friends - who know our limitations and follow our progress. Honnold's success makes ours even smaller.

> don't pretend to understand either his mastery or his motivations.

Motivation doesn't seem so complicated to me; we all figure out what we're capable of - with time - and aspire to do it given the means - time, money and opportunity. Mastery is where its at however - and Honnold has quite simply - a remarkable talent. My 12yr old lad currently raves about 'superpowers' - which he acknowledges are fictitious - but here we clearly identify the reality of one such.
Robert Durran - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to pec:

> This is quite an interesting article which gives an insight (literally) into the mind of Alex Honnold which goes some way to explain how and why he does this sort of thinghttp://nautil.us/issue/39/sport/the-strange-brain-of-the-worlds-greatest-solo-climber.Make of it what you will, I find it mildly disturbing.

Fascinating. I wonder whether he was born like that or whether he has somehow trained himself to experience such low arousal. It does say he got gripped on his first solo climb!
radddogg - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to radddogg:

> But what has he done on grit???(Yes I know, a lot actually!)

14 dislikes. I guess you missed the bit in brackets?!
Patrick Roman - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Great article, thanks. Really puts it in perspective from another top climber, i.e. hard to comprehend no matter who you are!

I disagree. I didn't really make the point above but someone like Tommy Caldwell is never going to fully understand what Honnold does. Despite knowing him well, Tommy isn't a soloist. He's also a father. I think I remember something about these thoughts going through his head when he did the Fitz Traverse. I highly doubt Alex had any such fears before, during or after that climb. I also highly doubt someone like Dean Potter would have written an article like that.

While I'm super impressed by the Freerider solo, I can honestly say it wasn't a surprise to me. After his Triple Crown solo, I felt it was the next logical step. But again, perhaps that's because I'm coming at it with the mindset of a soloist? That said, I'm not sure there's a lot of room (if any) for him to move upwards from here (in a free soloing capacity). Different, yes, but not harder. Of course, he'll know that better than anyone.
cb294 - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to pec:

Thanks! I always thought that AH would be a highly interesting subject for such a test, but had no idea that this was done, and the results published.

CB
Nick Brown - UKC - on 06 Jun 2017
simes303 - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to rgold:

That is absolutely spot on.
nb - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Nick Brown - UKC:

The drip-feed begins!
Scotch Bingington - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to radddogg:

> 14 dislikes. I guess you missed the bit in brackets?!

Either that or the whdog joke is so worn out, whether ironic, post ironic, or meta post ironic, that whenever it's encountered in any shape or form it leads any right minded viewer to want to slash their wrists in a warm bath. Still, at least the best climber is still the one having most fun eh?
Michael Gordon - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Patrick Roman:

It might not be a surprise to some, but that still doesn't necessarily make the act itself easy to comprehend. Even taking a very good climber and prolific soloist, put them on that ground with a rope on and like Tommy, they'll likely find it hard to envisage climbing without one. That may be more to do with the difficulty and exposure than just the act of soloing past survivable height.
Patrick Roman - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Even taking a very good climber and prolific soloist, put them on that ground with a rope on and like Tommy, they'll likely find it hard to envisage climbing without one.

I'm with you on that one, I didn't mean that a soloist would be able to imagine being up there themselves, but more that they could possibly better understand Alex's motivations or progression.
stp - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> It would appear that for some people, being an armchair dickhead, is a lifestyle choice.

So politely airing alternative views that you don't agree with is what makes someone a dickhead but insulting people on a public forum does not. Right.
stp - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to climbnplay:

> You are sounding so petty with all your hypotheses.

I can't see anything petty in nb's posts. I think this is something you've just imagined or made up to be honest.

But I do find the tone of your post condescending, which maybe why it's had a number of dislikes.
Goucho on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> So politely airing alternative views that you don't agree with is what makes someone a dickhead but insulting people on a public forum does not. Right.

The world's greatest big wall solo climber, makes the most stunning big wall free solo ascent in history, the culmination (or maybe not?) of years of meticulous planning and preparation.

It is greeted, quite rightly, by the leading climbers in the world, as a landmark ascent.

But on UKC, a few nobody's decide to criticise - based on no understanding, knowledge or comprehension of either Honnold or the route - both his motives and his state of mind.

It's like the middle aged fat bloke who turns out on Saturday morning for his pubs five a side football team, criticising the goal scoring prowess of Lionel Messi, or the kid who failed GCSE maths criticising Einsteins theory of relativity.

And yes, that does make you a dickhead, and you should be called out for it.



Michael Hood - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:
But don't worry, we all behave like dickheads at times (ask any spouse/partner), especially on t'net.

And you can still be a dickhead and a nice person at the same time
Post edited at 09:30
stp - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to rgold:

Well written post but from my point of view it misses the nub of the debate which you mention the last sentence:

> but then I don't pretend to understand either his mastery or his motivations.

For me the question of his motivations are significant. Clearly they're not the same as they once were. He got into soloing because he didn't have a partner. Since he practiced the route many times before obviously that was not the reason. He didn't do it because he wanted to get a lot of mileage in on that particular day either.

You use the phrase head-point which I think is apt. This style of ascent is very far from the normal kind of soloing and has none of the advantages: speed, no need for a partner, freedom etc. It's a style that almost no one else seems to do and I think it's therefore reasonable to wonder and question the underlying motivations. Fame, money and status are obvious outcomes from an ascent like this. In a way that might alienate the rest of us a little since most of us aren't good enough to climb for such reasons. But if we're honest enough I think we can see that if those were accessible then we'd probably be only too pleased to lap them up too. There's nothing wrong with high achievement, it's pretty much the basis of all sport.

But I think there's a problem when such media adulation is driving people to push close to the edge, and then end up paying with their lives. By praising such ascents we're doing two things. First we're saying that they're OK and there's nothing wrong with that. Secondly we're rewarding them so inevitably encouraging them to do more of the same.

Imagine if the media instead of praising Alex's ascent, ignored it or reacted with scorn and criticism. It's pretty certain his soloing career would not last or at least not in the same high profile, competitive way.

It's worth saying that if in some years Alex goes the same way as many of climbing's best solo climbers, all those who uncritically praise the ascent, the media and sponsors especially, will be, in part, responsible for that. It's a responsibilty we don't like to admit. I feel like we're all part of a giant circus, entertained by amazing feats of skill and daring, cheering on the performers but when it all goes horribly wrong we're just going to end up saying: oh that was a bit shit, what's on next?
stp - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> But on UKC, a few nobody's decide to criticise - based on no understanding, knowledge or comprehension of either Honnold or the route - both his motives and his state of mind.

What a bunch of elitist BS. So I take it you don't consider yourself a nobody and that you believe you have a much better understanding than those you disagree with. Pure ad hominem which comes across rather conceited in my view. Just because you're a better climber doesn't make your opinion any more valid than anyone else.
Goucho on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> What a bunch of elitist BS. So I take it you don't consider yourself a nobody and that you believe you have a much better understanding than those you disagree with. Pure ad hominem which comes across rather conceited in my view. Just because you're a better climber doesn't make your opinion any more valid than anyone else.

Did you actually read either of my posts?

The point I was making so simply a five year old could understand, was that NOBODY is in a position to criticise Honnold.

So if you're going to ride in on your white charger defending the right for everyone to have an opinion, make sure you get your facts straight first.
Rick Graham on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News + Groucho + stp

I actually agree with both G + stp.

1. Impressed.

2. disturbed by the countless arising consequences as raised on this ukc topic.

How many years before someone tries an onsight?

Goucho on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

> In reply to UKC News + Groucho + stpI actually agree with both G + stp.1. Impressed.2. disturbed by the countless arising consequences as raised on this ukc topic.How many years before someone tries an onsight?

It's only a completely uninformed punt Rick, but I reckon Honnold was probably still within his comfort zone even on this.

The man's from another planet when it comes to the head game
Rick Graham on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> It's only a completely uninformed punt Rick, but I reckon Honnold was probably still within his comfort zone even on this.The man's from another planet when it comes to the head game

If you take his interviews at face value you are correct IMHO.
GrahamD - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

I'm not sure there is much critiscism of Honnold here. There is plenty of unease about soloing like this but thats human. I don't like watching people solo at Stanage either, even when I'm soloing.

I also like to think people want honest context around this sort of thing - especially when its hyped like this. You say its ground breaking so how much more significant is it than a free solo (I hate that term !) of the Fisch ? harder ? more comitting ?
Goucho on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'm not sure there is much critiscism of Honnold here. There is plenty of unease about soloing like this but thats human. I don't like watching people solo at Stanage either, even when I'm soloing.I also like to think people want honest context around this sort of thing - especially when its hyped like this. You say its ground breaking so how much more significant is it than a free solo (I hate that term !) of the Fisch ? harder ? more comitting ?

It's probably me, but I don't see why people feel uneasy about what someone else does?

When looking at what Honnold does, you have to see it through his eyes. He loves soloing, that's his shtick, and he's both stunningly good and highly experienced at it. Trying measure or understand what and why he does it through our merely mortal eyes is always going to throw up more questions than answers.

Regarding the publicity, fanfare and commercial side, well he's a professional climber, it's how he makes his living and what enables him to pursue his climbing lifestyle without rummaging in skips for his food, or knocking off 711's for his petrol money.

If he ends up putting a huge sum of money in his pension pot on the back of it, then good for him. It's what all pro athletes do - just how much cash do you think Bolt and Farah have made from their Olympic achievements? Why should it be different for a top pro climber?

Look at the media circus around Caldwell and Jorgenson on Dawn Wall. In fact go back even further into the dark ages, and look at the same thing with Harding on both the Nose and Dawn Wall.

As for whether Freerider is harder than the Fisch? Well the answer to that is so far beyond my pay grade as to be not even academic

GrahamD - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

I'm not sure why this unease either. As I said on another thread, its entirely subjective.

I am interested in an objective view as to just how groundbreaking (probably unfortunate choice of words) this was. Probably one, if not the, hardest big wall free solos by one of its finest exponents, but is it really a game changer or is that marketing ? As an armchair punter I like to know these things.
Goucho on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'm not sure why this unease either. As I said on another thread, its entirely subjective.I am interested in an objective view as to just how groundbreaking (probably unfortunate choice of words) this was. Probably one, if not the, hardest big wall free solos by one of its finest exponents, but is it really a game changer or is that marketing ? As an armchair punter I like to know these things.

Well the world's top climbers seem to think it is, and if any group of people are best qualified to judge, it's probably them?

Having done a few routes on El Cap (in mere mortal style) which were trouser filling enough, the concept of being up there with just sticky boots and a chalk bag, is nothing short of mind bending.


GrahamD - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

>...the concept of being up there with just sticky boots and a chalk bag, is nothing short of mind bending.

Ditto Marmolada, I would guess.

Michael Hood - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho: > the concept of being up there with just sticky boots and a chalk bag, is nothing short of mind bending.

I'm presuming you were on the wall for several days, whereas he knows he's only going to be on it for a few hours (and he's played that game many times). That alone would alter one's perception of the nature of it - even when roped, it's changing the nature of the game from big walling to something close to multi-pitch trad climbing in the UK.

Once you view it this way, as a speedy climber's larger version of soloing a UK multi-pitch route, then it doesn't seem quite so big (which is a shame because it is actually rather big).

Having said all that, it's still mind-bogglingly impressive and some of the photos/positions are definitely of the "giving me the willies" type.
WVRox - on 08 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

Not really very conducive to discussion or debate to start referring to people, who I doubt you know, as 'nobodys' 'dickheads' or 'armchair'.
aln - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to derryclimbs:

> What could he actually do next?

He could actually become an expert basket weaver.

stp - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

None shall mock the Great One, for they are not worthy.

For whosoeth that disobey, they shall be scorned and humiliated and cut off from all that is good.
stp - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> It's probably me, but I don't see why people feel uneasy about what someone else does?

I think it might be because for those that have been around long enough have seen the same story unfold before. Brilliant top climber, soloing routes at the cutting edge. Utterly amazing. Then they're gone. Jimmey Jewel, Derek Hersey, John Bachar. Add to that that Honnold's story is different in that there's this huge media attention, expectation, pre-planning and sponsorship deals.

I think there's something vaguely barbaric about it. We all get off on the success of the ascent. It's so easy to cheer from the sidelines, completely free of risk. I wonder how his close friends and family feel about it.
1poundSOCKS - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> We all get off on the success of the ascent.

Speak for yourself.
Goucho on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> I think it might be because for those that have been around long enough have seen the same story unfold before. Brilliant top climber, soloing routes at the cutting edge. Utterly amazing. Then they're gone. Jimmey Jewel, Derek Hersey, John Bachar. Add to that that Honnold's story is different in that there's this huge media attention, expectation, pre-planning and sponsorship deals.I think there's something vaguely barbaric about it. We all get off on the success of the ascent. It's so easy to cheer from the sidelines, completely free of risk. I wonder how his close friends and family feel about it.

Yeah, I knew both Jimmy and Derek, and met Bachar. I can go even further back and remember Cliff Philips legendary lob off Dinas Mott, and Tony Wilmots fatal fall soloing up a Severe.

Shit happens, and climbers fall and die - probably considerably more actually fastened to a rope. Over the years I've lost several close friends.

At the end of the day it's the risk and nature of the game.

It isn't for other people to judge someone's motivation for why they climb the things they do.

God save us from the 'Nanny State' approach to life.

I'm just taking Honnold's ascent at face value for the stunningly impressive achievement it is.

gallam1 - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

I googled "Cliff Philips legendary lob off Dinas Mott" and could not find anything. What happened?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Doug on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to gallam1:

fell while soloing, was badly injured but managed to drive himself to hospital in Bangor (from memory, may not be completely correct)
Goucho on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to gallam1:
> I googled "Cliff Philips legendary lob off Dinas Mott" and could not find anything. What happened?

He fell about 200' soloing, broke several bones, crawled back down to his car in the Pass and drove himself to Bangor Hospital.

What's more worrying is that in the 60's and 70's Bangor Hospital's A&E unit had a terrible reputation for sending you back out with more injuries than you went in with!
Post edited at 11:27
john arran - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to gallam1:

> I googled "Cliff Philips legendary lob off Dinas Mott" and could not find anything. What happened?

Spelling may have been the problem: https://www.google.fr/search?q=cliff+phillips+dinal+mot&oq=cliff+phillips+dinal+mot&aqs=chro...
turnersjt - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

It's a British website forum....so it will always be full of negative people.

Honnold has done fantastically well and still seemed humble when we saw him in Chamonix, totally unlike some 'look at me yanks' .
Awesome!
Mick Ward - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> He fell about 200' soloing, broke several bones, crawled back down to his car in the Pass and drove himself to Bangor Hospital.

The tale I heard (may be wrong) is that he dragged himself down to the proverbial battered minivan, got back to 'Beris, stopped outside his mate's place and passed out with his head on the horn. Aparently his mate, who was busy shagging his girlfriend, eventually sauntered down for the quintessential, "F*ck me!" moment.

I've always been amazed by that lob (off Black Spring?) For most of the Mot, above 20 feet, you think you'd be in trouble.

Still it's only right that fortune should favour the brave. And Cliff Philips was brave beyond compare. And, as I recall, an utter gentleman.

Re the Mot, I remember a day back in the 70s, after a big session with Tim Lewis in the Padarn. When my mate, Wino, got bored, I carried on soloing. That night, back on the piss, he confided, "On your last route, you were weaving around the fence [far below]. I wondered if you came off, whether you'd be cut in two." (Err, thanks Wino!)


> What's more worrying is that in the 60's and 70's Bangor Hospital's A&E unit had a terrible reputation for sending you back out with more injuries than you went in with!

Could be worse - Bangor Crematorium. As Jim Perrin noted, "I've been here too many times to see my mates off." On my one and only visit, for both of us (and many more?) it was far and away the worst day of our lives.

Mick
Michael Gordon - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> You use the phrase head-point which I think is apt. This style of ascent is very far from the normal kind of soloing and has none of the advantages: speed, no need for a partner, freedom etc. It's a style that almost no one else seems to do and I think it's therefore reasonable to wonder and question the underlying motivations. Fame, money and status are obvious outcomes from an ascent like this.

Well if you're talking about speed of ascent then is this not the fastest by far? And does this style of ascent necessarily tie in with a desire for "fame, money and status" to a greater extent than e.g. hard onsight soloing, top end roped ascents, speed climbing or high altitude mountaineering?
1poundSOCKS - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> And does this style of ascent necessarily tie in with a desire for "fame, money and status" to a greater extent than e.g. hard onsight soloing, top end roped ascents, speed climbing or high altitude mountaineering?

Even if it does, it's Alex's decision. Not up to anyone else to decide that's the wrong the thing to do IMO. I don't think it's fair to say he's under an unreasonable amount of pressure to do these things. The extent of his preparation, and years of doubt about whether he would ever do it go some way to showing that. I said it before, it seems to tie in far more with the competitive spirit of Yosemite climbing. Nose speed ascents etc.
Michael Gordon - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

The other thing is just because something might lead to 'fame and glory', it doesn't mean there is a hunger for it.
eoinb - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

How does Honnold's achievement compare to MacLeod's 8c solo?

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=868
Fergal - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to eoinb:

There is no comparison, what a dumb question, 3000ft of insecure smearing on slabs and fingerlocks on El capitan Verse 40ft of overhanging pocket pulling on a scruffy crag in margelef, Chris Sharma said it was 8b by the way.
John2 - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to eoinb:

MacLeod did his 8C solo in order to prepare himself for the hard and unprotected climbing on Echo Wall.
submariner - on 11 Jun 2017
There are many impressive solo exploits you could try and compare. E.g. Julian Lines has onsight soloed many new routes in the Cairngorms upto about E6 I think. No less impressive for me but its the combined size and difficulty that make this ascent so significant, regardless of the increased emphasis it receives because its El Cap/Honnold.
Shani - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to submariner:
I actually think that it's the height of El Cap that makes it so special. Headpoint soloing 7c is pretty uninteresting. A lot of climbers could probably do it even if faced with a fatal fall. 7c solo at 2000ft? Now it gets fascinating...
Post edited at 16:06
Michael Gordon - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to Fergal:

I thought the consensus was 8b+. Not out of this world like Honnold's ascent but still pretty amazing!
Fergal - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Don't agree, this is highball bouldering in comparison, if you want to take this to a new level of the Absurd, Ambrosia font 8a in Bishop is classed as a highball and it is taller at around fifty feet, wowser lets have a whos got the biggest dick competition.
eroica64 - on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to pencilled in:

From the National Geographic ... "He ascended the peak in 3 hours, 56 minutes, taking the final moderate pitch at a near run. At 9:28 a.m. PDT, under a blue sky and few wisps of cloud, he pulled his body over the rocky lip of summit and stood on a sandy ledge the size of a child’s bedroom."

How I hate this kind of sponsorship-type crap and advertising and mainstream bullshit commerce invading climbing. Alex Honnold has a long, long neck and I wish he hadn't stuck it out further for the National effing Geographic.
Damo on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to UKC News:

One of the better articles on Honnold's climb:

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/opinion/el-capitan-my-el-capitan.html

"“It’s a very glassy, smooth, insecure crux,” Caldwell told me. “You have just a couple of little ripples for your feet and some very bad small, sloping handholds. Alex was right above me and I followed his instructions and I still fell.”

Honnold himself never grew comfortable enough with that move to have a member of Chin’s film crew present. “It was a little too intimate and if I did fall, some dude would be traumatized,” Honnold said, explaining that he asked Chin to deploy only a remotely operated camera there."

"...If you count yourself among those inclined to negative judgment, and even if you don’t, I hope you’ll indulge a mental exercise for fun. Allow your mind to relax into the possibility that Honnold’s climb was not reckless at all — that he really was born with unique neural architecture and physical gifts, and that his years of dedication really did develop those gifts to the point that he could not only make every move on El Capitan without rest, he could do so with a tolerably minuscule chance of falling. Viewed in that light, Honnold’s free-solo of El Capitan represents a miraculous opportunity for the rest of us to experience what you might call the human sublime — a performance so far beyond our current understanding of our physical and mental potential that it provokes a pleasurable sensation of mystified awe right alongside the inevitable nausea."
Michael Gordon - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to Fergal:

Highball bouldering where about the best you can hope for is broken legs. And on an 8b+ route. It's not a competition so let's have some respect for the difficulty of a solo like that. But yes, it's just a short single pitch route, not 1000m high. That's why, as you suggest, it's hard to compare.
Michael Gordon - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to Damo:

> Honnold’s free-solo of El Capitan represents a miraculous opportunity for the rest of us to experience what you might call the human sublime — a performance so far beyond our current understanding of our physical and mental potential that it provokes a pleasurable sensation of mystified awe right alongside the inevitable nausea."

(from journalist Franco Cookson)
eoinb - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to Fergal:

I don't understand why you would choose to insult a stranger who asked an open question.
thebigfriendlymoose - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to eoinb:

> I don't understand why you would choose to insult a stranger who asked an open question.

because internet.
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Goucho:

> It's like the middle aged fat bloke who turns out on Saturday morning for his pubs five a side football team, criticising the goal scoring prowess of Lionel Messi

Sorry to piss on your comparison Goucho, but it is fundamentally flawed.

For a start, I may be middle-aged but I'm skinny (ish)!!

Also I haven't criticised Alex Honnold's climbing prowess (that would be ludicrous), I have questioned the merit of stage-managing and extensively publicising his ascent of Freerider.

A better comparison would be a middle-aged, arthritic, weekend football dad who questions the relevance of Messi's celeb status; especially since Messi isn't actually playing a football match but doing some very skilled keepy-uppy on a beer-mat-sized platform on top of the Empire State Building.

When you know that Zidane died doing the same thing, Ronaldo survived but was killed in a shark-diving accident soon afterwards and Gascoigne is struggling with depression and alcoholism, then you have every right to think 'WTF is this all about?'

I agree with stp. All those evangelistic worshippers of the Church of Honnold are in part responsible for creating a disturbing and unhealthy fervour; those that decry the doubters even more so.

If people want to solo, that's their business. It is an intense experience and may even be an effective coping mechanism. You can choose to adulate them, ignore them, question them, criticise them, be inspired by them... whatever rocks your boat. Personally I think there has been way too much adulation.





Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> If people want to solo, that's their business. It is an intense experience and may even be an effective coping mechanism. You can choose to adulate them, ignore them, question them, criticise them, be inspired by them... whatever rocks your boat. Personally I think there has been way too much adulation.

Eh? You can hardly say that people are free to choose to adulate but then complain when they do so! You sound rather muddled to me.

John2 - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

'A better comparison would be a middle-aged, arthritic, weekend football dad who questions the relevance of Messi's celeb status; especially since Messi isn't actually playing a football match but doing some very skilled keepy-uppy on a beer-mat-sized platform on top of the Empire State Building'

You think the most impressive solo in climbing history the equivalent of a bit of keepy-uppy?
TobyA on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

He also said ignore or question them too.
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to John2:

> 'A better comparison would be a middle-aged, arthritic, weekend football dad who questions the relevance of Messi's celeb status; especially since Messi isn't actually playing a football match but doing some very skilled keepy-uppy on a beer-mat-sized platform on top of the Empire State Building'

> You think the most impressive solo in climbing history the equivalent of a bit of keepy-uppy?

I think that Messi doing keep-uppy thing would be a better analogy for doing a really hard boulder problem above a razor sharp bed of nails - contrived and daft rather than a brilliant and astonishing example of climbing in its purest form (apart, of course, from the fact that it was not onsight...... ).
stp - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Well if you're talking about speed of ascent then is this not the fastest by far?

Only if you ignore all the days of practice beforehand. If you count those it maybe the slowest ascent.


> does this style of ascent necessarily tie in with a desire for "fame, money and status" to a greater extent than e.g. hard onsight soloing, top end roped ascents, speed climbing or high altitude mountaineering?

Not the style per se. But those are inevitable outcomes. I doubt very much those were the only motivating factors, but it seems impossible that Honnold could not be aware of them. Personally I'm a big fan of Honnold, for as much as anything he seems like a super cool guy, a thinker, with always something interesting to say. But I can't dismiss the circumstances around his life. He makes his money from the climbing he does and what he's famous for is soloing big routes. I don't think those are enviable or healthy circumstances.

stp - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Personally I think there has been way too much adulation.

Yeah agreed. The post on Evening Sends is massively over the top.

I think it's understandable and healthy to raise questions about such high risk endeavours.
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:
> I think it's understandable and healthy to raise questions about such high risk endeavours.

The trouble with that stance is that you then have to draw the line somewhere, or else say the same about virtually all climbing which is exactly what a large part of the general population do!
Post edited at 20:05
stp - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

I suppose it's not a black or white thing. Everything entails some risk sure, even driving or walking to the supermarket. But some things are much higher risk than others and the risk of hard soloing is very high. But the question is not even about soloing. I've done lots of soloing myself and I'm definitely not against it. For me the issue is about the media adulation surrounding this ascent. It makes us all participants in a way, we are the viewers enjoying the spectacle. This is all very different to the way other soloists have done stuff. I don't even remember seeing photos of Peter Croft doing his hard solos. They were a much more private thing. You'd just read a paragraph in a magazine after the event, or maybe an interview here or there.
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:
> Everything entails some risk sure, even driving or walking to the supermarket. But some things are much higher risk than others and the risk of hard soloing is very high.

I'm not sure I agree with this. I have actually sometimes used driving as an analogy for soloing. Every time I drive somewhere, I know that there is a risk that I could die, either because I screw up or because something out of my control happens, but I consider the risks small enough that I barely ever think about them as I get into my car to drive to work. And when I solo, I only do so when I am pretty much as certain that I won't die; I won't let go just like I won't drive off the road into a tree. I think it is a question of pereception - many people, including many climbers, just don't understand the mentality of "safe" soloing whereas almost everyone knows about "safe" driving.


> I'm definitely not against it. For me the issue is about the media adulation surrounding this ascent.

Did you feel the same about Steck? Bonatti on The Matterhorn? Effectively protectionless grit headpointing in countless videos?
Post edited at 21:03
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Eh? You can hardly say that people are free to choose to adulate but then complain when they do so! You sound rather muddled to me.

Personally I think way too many people voted for Trump
john arran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

I completely agree. Too often it seems that people compartmentalise soloing, as though it's fundamentally different to any other type of climbing. It really isn't, nor is it likely to even be the most dangerous type of climbing. If you were to effectively require that all reporting of soloing was censored such that it either was portrayed in a negative light, or accompanied by some other type of public health warning, then logically you would also need to do the same for high altitude mountaineering, for high-level grit headpointing and for a lot of Alpinism in general.

To single out rock soloing for special treatment seems to me to betray either a lack of rational thought or an unresolved personal issue.
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to John2:

> You think the most impressive solo in climbing history the equivalent of a bit of keepy-uppy?

I'm not really into football, but I bet Messi can do some pretty elaborate keepy-uppy!
John2 - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

I'm sure he can, but the consequence of failure would not be death.
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to John2:

You should read my comment again
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

> To single out rock soloing for special treatment seems to me to betray either a lack of rational thought or an unresolved personal issue.

100%, adulating alpinists is not a good idea either
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> Personally I think way too many people voted for Trump

Ah, I see; you don't see the possible responses to Honnold's solo as entirely personal with no impact on others. Either that, or Trump is a poor analogy.
john arran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> 100%, adulating alpinists is not a good idea either

Where would you draw the line in censoring the publication of achievements? Scary trad leads? DWS? Motor racing? Round-the-world yachting?

And how would you justify imposing your personal line-in-the-sand on everyone else?

I'd prefer freedom of expression and letting people make their own minds up every time, compared to having some official draw up arbitrary rules for what was reasonable and what was unjustified.
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> 100%, adulating alpinists is not a good idea either

So where DO you draw the line. Are we allowed to adulate sport climbers? Macleod on Rhapsody? A boulderer with a dodgy landing?
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

I haven't mentioned censorship. I've talked about stage-management, extensive publicity and public adulation.

My initial reaction when I heard that Honnold had free-soloed El Cap was 'wow, that must have been incredible!' When I learned of the media circus and saw the reaction on FB I thought, 'this is f*cked up'.

So I don't think there should be any censorship. I'd much rather watch a Red Bull Rampage than a Tour de France. But I think in climbing there needs to be more debate and more honesty about the motivations of publicity-seekers. The traditional 'I just climb for myself' narrative needs challenging.

The public reaction is what it is, but I think it needs to be questioned as well. It encourages a dynamic which often ends in tragedy.
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So where DO you draw the line. Are we allowed to adulate sport climbers? Macleod on Rhapsody? A boulderer with a dodgy landing?

Adulate whoever you like if it makes you happy!
john arran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> I haven't mentioned censorship. I've talked about stage-management, extensive publicity and public adulation.

Then I look forward to your non-censorship suggestions as to how to prevent people from publicising notable events and how to prevent people being impressed and inspired by them.
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:
> Adulate whoever you like if it makes you happy!

You are dodging the question. What can I make myself happy adulating without making you feel uneasy about it?
Post edited at 22:05
nb - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to john arran:

> Then I look forward to your non-censorship suggestions as to how to prevent people from publicising notable events and how to prevent people being impressed and inspired by them.

This is all I have to offer - an alternative viewpoint and public debate!
Robert Durran - on 17 Jun 2017
In reply to nb:

> This is all I have to offer - an alternative viewpoint and public debate!

Here's another viewpoint. Theresa May Alex Honnold metaphor.

https://www.joe.co.uk/entertainment/watch-what-a-monster-frankie-boyle-tears-into-theresa-may-like-o...
artif on 17 Jun 2017
So to sum it up-
Some bloke climbs a cliff
Someone else thinks it's dangerous, and shouldn't be done or shown, because someone else might do something similar.
I've had similar comments from my non climbing friends, who think bimbling around on V-Diff's is "extreme" and "dangerous", it's just a matter of perspective.

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