Who would, or could, free solo Zion's Moonlight Buttress (V 5.12d; 1,200 feet)? No joke, it turns out, and the climber was Alex Honnold, 22, of Sacramento, California, who recently turned heads with a spate of free solos in Yosemite Valley, as well as a cutting-edge onsight of Noah Bigwood's trad testpiece Bushido (5.13c), in King Creek, Utah. He didn't make the solo on April 1 on purpose, Honnold said: “It's not like I plan my climbing around the date. It's not like I even know the date most of the time,” he jokes. Honnold currently lives out of his van and meters time by days on rock and days of rest.
Honnold is a self-proclaimed finger-crack addict, and Zion fit the bill perfectly. “For me, the entire [Moonlight] is pure fingers... awesome, glorious fingers,” he said. Honnold also repeatedly described the entire climb as “locker.” “In a lot of ways it was less heady than stuff in the Valley,” Honnold said, “'cause it's straight finger crack — it's more secure. There is some face climbing, but it feels crisp — it feels secure.” (The “stuff” he climbed in the Valley included free soloing the V 5.11c climbs Astroman and the Rostrum in a day.) Such a long, difficult solo, especially on soft desert sandstone, is for most out of the realm of possibility or reason, but Alex, say those who've climbed with him, is a rare breed of climber: modest but supremely confident.
Read the report by Justin Roth at Climbing.com.
Read Dave Birkett's thoughts on this ascent HERE