/ INTERVIEW: Alex Honnold on Soloing El Capitan

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UKC Articles - on 09 Aug 2017
Alex Honnold, 4 kbOn 3rd June, Alex Honnold stunned the climbing and non-climbing world alike into awed silence with his solo ascent of Freerider on El Capitan, Yosemite. An inevitable media frenzy akin to that generated by the Dawn Wall erupted - and rightly so. Equipped only with shoes and a chalkbag, he calmly ascended the 3,000ft granite monolith in just 3 hours and 56 minutes. Honnold's achievement has since been lauded as one of the most significant ascents in the history of climbing.

When not answering questions for mainstream media outlets, on expedition in Alaska or being interviewed live on Jimmy Kimmel's sofa about mountain lions and meeting rapper 50 Cent, Alex kindly took the time to shed some light on his achievement.



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astoman - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Nice, some good questions. But what does "retreating" from soloing el cap mean? did he downclimb? did he rap off using the fixed lines..?

Does anyone know?
In reply to astoman:

He descended a series of fixed ropes to the ground, according to Tommy Caldwell.
https://www.outsideonline.com/2190306/why-alex-honnolds-free-solo-scared-me

We now have even more respect for Alex. I sent him these questions immediately after his climb, not expecting to hear back due to the email being swamped by the mainstream media excitement and due to him being away in Alaska shortly after. Despite him thinking we may no longer be interested, he sent us the answers yesterday!
Michael Gordon - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great interview.
Ian Parsons - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to astoman:

I have a vague recollection - which somebody might be able to confirm/discredit - that his earlier attempt finished at The Ear. Unless the whole route was fixed one would imagine that he down-climbed to Heart Ledges and then followed fixed ropes to the ground - either by abseil if he had the necessary kit with him, or possibly hand-over-hand.
Sankey - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Ian Parsons:

He explains how he got down, as well as a fair bit of extra detail in this enormocast episode:

http://enormocast.com/episode-133-alex-honnold-kind-of-a-big-deal/

Basically he carried on up but standing on and pulling on bolts and then improvised an ab using a sling and crab...
Ian Parsons - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Sankey:

Ah - excellent, and thanks very much; not come across that before. Clearly wrong about The Ear; I wonder where that came from? [By the way - in case anyone thinks I've completely lost the plot with the idea of hand-over-handing down fixed ropes, that lower apron below Heart isn't very steep by El Cap standards; the first two photos in this series gives an idea: http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Jolly-Roger-Photo-T-R/t357n.html]
Blake - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Pete Whitaker?! Surely Alain Robert is the man?
jon on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Ian Parsons:

> By the way - in case anyone thinks I've completely lost the plot with the idea of hand-over-handing down fixed ropes...

The pink descenders as Jimmy Jewell used to call it. Pincushion/Silly ArĂȘte was a favourite - me with a fig 8 and Jim hand over hand...
Mike Stretford - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Great interview.

Just wandering why UKC keep using the 'wig' photo? I find it vaguely unsettling, he's in a silly wig and looks sad.

In reply to Mike Stretford:

Alex didn't have any images to offer us from Nat Geo and for the montage image we require a specific size of landscape image. It was the only one available. I tried one of the Stanage ones but it seemed too out of place to represent an interview on his El Cap solo!
Mike Stretford - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC: Oh yeah, you're commercial, can't nick images.....I'll see if I can get a good snap next time he's at Wilton 1!

In reply to Mike Stretford:

We'll only take it if it looks like he's up El Cap... ;) No green screen allowed!
keith-ratcliffe on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:
I enjoyed the interview thanks, and for what its worth I think the picture that best sums up Alex Honnold is the one on the small ledge on Half Dome. It has been much used - don't know who owns it - and would require a crop to make it landscape but it is iconic.
Stop press: Jimmy Chin owns it - his pic of Alex on Separate Reality is also good.
Post edited at 16:37
JLS on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Mike Stretford:

I just like that the image, once rediscovered, will convince some future historian that Alex Honnold was actually climbing in the Master's of Stone era. There will be a long UKC thread about it in the year 2165 which will state as fact that Honnold free soloed "The Nose", sans jetpack, 3 days after Lynn Hill's FFA (first FEMALE ascent).

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