CLIMB and PUNISHMENT- An Open Telegram to Alex Honnold


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Edwin Drummond

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 19, 2010 - 12:26pm PT
(An Open Telegram to Alex Honnold)

Dear Alex,

Stop! Stop right now! While there’s still a chance you might live to tell how you nearly fell for it… 3000 feet more or less down the Nose route of El Capitan, bouncing and screaming for five seconds until you explode, hitting the earth at over a hundred miles an hour, beheaded at the feet of the waiting paparazzi, ghosts of the glossies. Silenced for ever.

Please stop; the bubble is trembling, stretched beyond belief, the gods are murmuring… They never repeat themselves. Let your baby panic attack on the Thank God ledge traverse on the North West Face of Half Dome, become your definitive saving grace. It was there the great white question arose from the depths as you began to fall apart, asking yourself what on earth you were doing up there, un-roped. Though not quite alone –audiences everywhere have heard the invisible camera man murmur that you can come back – the great, Tolstoyan questions begin slashing at the edge of your mind. And that, my friend, the love rush of reality into your heart (What am I doing? Where am I going?) as you stare down the infinite space beneath your feet, may well be Their first and last and one and only way of warning you that the time to turn back to search for your father on Earth has arrived.

I’ve seen the movie of your free solo ascent of that razored face, twice; heard it praised and appraised as ‘mental mastery’ – not assisted suicide, but the cutting edge of contemporary rock climbing. And I’ve been stunned by the guffaws of the audiences, especially when you start (at last!) to feel our old friend Fear, whom you’d be-foed before in a saddening attempt at wondering how climbers can become calmer, cooler, more requisitely abstract in staring down the stone, and sometimes stoned, face of Death. Let me call it.

‘Hubris:’ the country of no old men, whose thirsting warriors, dying to live, look down on those Lilliputian innocents at their feet looking up from the meadow, wondering; the long-lost native American family, resting and playing by the wandering river.

It’s clear that the contemporary climbing cult(ure?) is out for blood. Pushed to the wall a free, un-roped solo climb of El Capitan would provide them with a feast of fear, a pornographic center-fold of your inevitable fall, followed in faithful-tasteless detail as you take flight to meet your Un-maker. A cannibalistic cornucopia sufficiently sick to sate the violence consumer (for 2 or 3 hours). Don’t do it. Let El Capitan be…Not your billboard, big screen, pedestal or headstone, let El Cap remain the rising curtain on a young, long, astonishing life, your own blank page, new leaf, your empty canvas, snowfall-fresh, unsigned in blood; the clean slate where you make your mark alongside those most memorable predecessors, the ones who took the long way down: The Honorable Order of the Deck Chairs, residents of the many-seasoned meadow.
You don’t have to cross the line. You have nothing to prove. We love you. The magic happens down here too. Keep your feet on the ground Alex, think about the children following in your footsteps…

And She will find you.

Ed. Drummond.

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:29pm PT
Interesting first post, Ed.

Welcome to the machine.


Trad climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:30pm PT
That was uncalled for.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:37pm PT
Welcome, welcome, Edwin. Just as others are agonizing over ST trends, you show up with this gem.

Thank you.


Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:50pm PT
apparently knott.

is he? and if so then why would he attempt it? seems like suicide to me.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:50pm PT
Well thought out and beautifully written.

I too have wondered to myself about the Half Dome gig.
And now the Nose?

Who wants it more? Alex himself,...or the ones that want Alex to want it?

How many times has he done it on a rope?

I know how solid I have been at times on certain pitches, and then gone back only to bungle a key sequence.....

Paul Preuss, Bachar and others might recommend against it, if only we could ask them.

You're well aware of the risk too Port, get up there. Why would it be uncalled for? Because he might read it and reconsider? What's your stake in it?

Edit: Not uncalled for at all. One of the most thought provoking posts here in a long time.

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:57pm PT
I'm wondering why anybody thinks Ed's post is uncalled for. You guys know who Ed is, right?



Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:58pm PT
eKat... yup... I know who he is and I don't think this is uncalled for in the slightest.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 19, 2010 - 12:59pm PT
A little about Edwin Drummond:
(Lots more if you google the name.)

An interesting man and outstanding climber.

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:00pm PT
Expressing one's honest opinion is uncalled for?
Maybe in N Korea.

Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
apparently some live in Korea or China around here....
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
The Taco... schizophrenic as ever.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:12pm PT
I think we all understand the mindset just fine Hank.

For you to think you understand it and we don't makes it seem like you think you're in a special class.

It's all good and Earth shattering if he makes it.

Just another tradgedy if he doesn't.

Why didn't Lynn solo it?

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:13pm PT

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:14pm PT
if alex can believe, then he must.
stripping himself of that opportunity will only land him mediocre and dreamless.

a sincere sentiment, ed. though it is warranted only within your heart.

Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:15pm PT
looks like Port retracted his "uncalled for" post.


and SuperTopo is a place where expression of the joy or pain in ones heart resides...

Trad climber
San Diego
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:16pm PT
Yeah. Kind of a gut reaction.

Social climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
My gut reply: Mind your own f*#king business.

Edit: Refering to the OP, not Port.

Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
yeah, understood. And I didn't point that out to be lame. You just left a few comments in regards to yours sitting there out of context.

I too ponder the intent and if it was called for.

I agree with survivals edit
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 01:21pm PT
There is a point when achievment would seem to reach the level of absurdity...

But then I'm old, incapable and jealous.
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