While Alex Honnold may not yet be a household name, his astounding, death-defying athletic achievement thoroughly deserves its place in history: a ‘free solo’ climb of one of the largest rock faces in the world. 34-year-old Honnold climbed 1,000 metres up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, alone, without any ropes or safety support. It would only have taken one mistake for him to have fallen to his death – a fate to sadly have befallen more than a few free soloists. An opinion piece in the New York Times described Honnold’s ascent as “one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever.”
While Honnold’s feat occured in June 2017, it was not until late 2018 that the feat was immortalised in an Oscar-winning National Geographic documentary, giving an insight into the ultra-focused athlete and the scale of his success. This spillover into the mainstream carried into 2019, leaving Honnold as the most recognisable climbing star on the planet. His fame has led to a TED talk, viewed almost 15m times, and the diverse daily schedule of a famous athlete: speaking gigs, charity events, sports training, and even a “museum panel about landmines.”
The climber has a reputation for being no-nonsense and entirely focused on the task at hand — whether scouting new locations to climb or directing work with the Honnold Foundation, his non-profit that helps to fund solar projects around the world. According to CNET, the foundation was on course to reel in $1m in donations in 2019.
“I still want to climb hard things someday,” Honnold told the National Geographic after he finished his free solo climb. “I mean you don’t just retire as soon as you get down.”Tags: Adventure, Climber, Outdoors, sports