CLIMB and PUNISHMENT- An Open Telegram to Alex Honnold


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Mar 26, 2010 - 12:12pm PT
"The temperature is like an Indian summer-September in the Valley. This is it. Paradise."

You're wrong, it's far from paradise >>> it is hell itself. (shocking statement)

If you really knew what real paradise is ......

Also the whole assumption of your ideas reek of fatalism, nihilism, and voidism as this life is all in all and nothing further beyond the death of the individual gross physical body.

You think the individual is the body. The driver of the vehicle is not the vehicle/body.

You are seeped in gross physical materialism speculating it is all in all .......

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2010 - 12:17pm PT
There is just one thing certain.....

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 26, 2010 - 12:23pm PT
i appreciate your your creative efforts.
i appreciate your depth as a climber, and the perspective that you have earned.
i appreciate your kind sentiment, and the grace in your expression.
i appreciate you taking the time to share your heart's yearnings.

it can be a tough crowd. though most wield a soft hued heart.

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Mar 26, 2010 - 12:24pm PT
What makes you guys so sure the OP is really Ed Drummond?

Lets see:

Dense prose.

Vast distances between periods.

Obvious dislike or distrust of single syllable words,

Never before encountered word usages like "automatonized", "praxis" and "umbilicusly"

Bizarre combinations of obscure references that may or may not be meaningful, like "Keatsian awareness", "querky, quarkian consciousness " and "commercial strand of disconnect".

Ok, ID quantified and 99.75 percent certain.

It's Ed Drummond all right. Who else could it be? The most modern of babble generators are completely insufficient at this time to duplicate such an effort. Out of their league entirely.

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2010 - 01:03pm PT
as always. . . .clueless. . .

Social climber
Mar 26, 2010 - 01:31pm PT
ed drummond=supertard
Ian Jewell

Mar 26, 2010 - 01:33pm PT
i cant stop thinking about the hobo and his dickcheese.

Trad climber
Left Hand, CO
Mar 26, 2010 - 01:51pm PT
Ian and everyone else should just go rent "Tropic Thunder". You won't recognize Tom Cruise until it's too late and he utters that line......the hobos dickcheese thing. "Now literally, step away from the computer AND F*#K YOUR OWN FACE!!!!". More Tom Cruise.


Mar 26, 2010 - 02:03pm PT
tastes in writing shore do vary...

to me, the flaw in ED's take on this (and his take swells with hubris born of excess groupie praise and real risk-taking long past its expiration date - in my opinion) is the idea that one's intentions matter most of the time at the gross level of chosing the moment when we exit this place.

can't remember his name, but there was a guy who'd trekked all over the Himalaya, came home to Berkeley, decided to get a vasectomy, walked out of the doc's office onto the street, fainted and hit his head on a concrete planter. Dead.

ED should have written that guy a letter.

Lots of climbers dead on 4th class terrain, vehicle accidents, etc. Or, what could be more dangerous that high-level mountaineering?

In fact, if he's so determined to save the lives of people who hang it out, he should try basejumpers first. My buddies who do it tell me that super-experts die regularly in Europe. Or write to that dude who wants to be the first to land a jump with only a wingsuit. That guy has had way more publicity than Honnold.

the Moon and Antarctica
Mar 26, 2010 - 02:15pm PT
Seems more like the issue is not free soloing per se, it's doing it with the overriding goal of turning it into climbing porn.

Mar 26, 2010 - 02:17pm PT
he had a rope on for that stuff lambone recounted. So why didn't ED write about his roped climbing? Speculation: b/c this is an exercise in more public drama creation for a writer who, like all writers, is cultivating an audience (nuthin' wrong with that). Coulda written a thoughtful general essay, as several have mentioned, though.

You don't think it's arrogant for ED to think that he could scare AH with words, after all of the stuff he's done??

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Mar 26, 2010 - 02:23pm PT
Once it gets romanticized as a film, the influence on those inclined to copy the style is not to be under-estimated. I have BITD, watched a number of guys free-solo some scary stuff. I have even done some. But never have I encouraged it.

Its a different matter to publicize it.

Doesn't he bear some responsibility to the audience of the video?


Mar 26, 2010 - 03:02pm PT
What Werner said.

Mar 26, 2010 - 03:03pm PT

Yeah, it's all math, I agree. Try multiplying all of the major probabilities...then try multiplying all of their interaction terms, then their bundled interaction terms. But, as you say, it's also a matter of paying attention, something that soloists do extremely well, as a rule.

We've all been in "situations," with a rope where it was basically unplanned soloing. A friend of mine died when rock broke on easy ground and he was way run-out.

The reason I'll stop writing now is that I'm just contributing to the OP's show, and my opinion is that his writing here is lousy, and his motivations stink. But I agree that the issues are worth thinking about.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 26, 2010 - 03:08pm PT
Alternate introductions and voiceovers:

Alex: “Hi. I’m Alex Honnold. I am a pretty regular guy who has excelled at rock climbing. I do it because I love it. I love it for the same reasons that all rockclimbers love their sport. This film is not about why rock climbers climb, or why it so much fun, or about technique. It is about me providing you with the entertainment of watching me climb without a rope. Don’t worry; I don’t fall in the movie. I made this introduction afterward.”

Announcer: “Rock climbing requires strength and flexibility and loads of specialized technique, acquired through lots of practice. Roped climbing can be very dangerous. To push yourself physically, you have to control your mind and your fears. Both skills are necessary. Free soloing is a way to test that your mind is completely in control, and when your mind is in control, free soloing is safe. Many more accidents have occurred with roped climbing than with free soloing. Climbing without a rope is a way to reduce the chances of falling, to make climbing very safe. When you climb with a rope, your mind is tricked into thinking that climbing is dangerous; when you take the rope away, your mind is forced to accept that climbing is safe.”

Artful shots of Alex walking to base. Cut away to Alex way off the ground, hands and toes barely touching the rock.

Alex: “You can just get the tips of two fingers in; just a little skin is touching the rock. Your feet are pasted to the smooth wall. About as exposed as you can be.”

Voice over: “Alex has climbed this route before. He knows exactly where to place his hands and feet. He has tested the rock for soundness. He feels very comfortable with the idea that he can make all the moves without slipping to his death. Don’t worry; he won’t fall off in this movie.”

Alex: “Free soloing of the kind I do for these videos is a kind of pure entertainment. Climbing has many aspects, figuring out how to get up really hard moves, learning to fall on to a rope so you don’t get hurt, telling your friends about how cool it was, getting into a physical or mental zone that just makes you feel alive. All of these aspects are part of what I do before I free solo for the camera. In a sense, the climbing is completely done by the time I feel comfortable enough to free solo a route. Sort of like…well I don’t know quite what it is like as compared to ordinary activity. Maybe like reenacting a winning touchdown without any defensive players around. Or dry-humping the pillow after she has left.”

Voice over: “Alex is not going to fall. This is entertainment. Oh, and don’t try this at home.”

Cut away to handwringing old dudes, with vaguely familiar faces and stances that probably once looked substantial.

Old dude One: “I don’t see the point. He has already climbed the route a dozen times. He knows every move. Where is the adventure in that? Royal and Yvon told us to go for adventure; to go for uncertainty.”

Old dude Two (Northern Italian accent): “He is murdering the impossible.”

Old dude Three (Moral accent):” He is selling out. Making climbing porn for plastic pulling wankers.”

Old dude Four (Greek accent): “Come my friends, we must all die. Why moan about it so.”

Old dude Five (SuperTopo accent): “What difference does it make? The human body is a false promise. Life is illusion. Does a falling climber make a sound if no one hears it?”

Cut away to Alex smoothly moving up the rock.

Voice over: “Don’t worry folks, Alex is not going to fall. Free soloing is completely safe.”

Cutaway to twentysomethings, reacting to old dudes:

TST One (TST accent): “Tards.”

TST Two (TST accent): “Super-tards.”

TST Three (TST accent): “Alex knows what he is doing. He has been up there before. Knows the moves cold. He’s not going to fall.”

TST One (TST accent): “Tards.”

TST Two (TST accent): “kkheej kjjheej. Supter-tards”

TST Four (SuperTopo Ascent): “It is just about the moment. The entertainment value. What’s the big deal? Alex can do what he wants.”

TST Five (TST accent): “Smoke a phat one.”

TST One (TST accent): “Tards.”

Cut away to Alex in the same crack. Ground much farther away. Moving smoothly. Looks bored.

Vague off-mike sounds:

Voice one (Suit accent): “This is boring.”

Voice two (Suit accent): “Tell me about it. Who will watch this? Everyone knows he is going to make it. It's just like math. You plug the numbers into a formula and out pops the move.”

Voice three (Suit accent): “That’s it. Wrap it up.

Voice one (Suit accent): "Whaaaat?"

Voice three (Suit accent): "Next time he does it adventure style.”

Voice two (Suit accent): ”You mean sight-unseen?”

Voice three (Suit accent): “That right. We have to restore risk and uncertainty into climbing. No one will watch this façade. Free soloing is completely safe. He never falls.”

Fade to old dude:


Mar 26, 2010 - 03:37pm PT

So hilariously funny.

Tell us what you really think , aside from playing the safe card in your above post.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Mar 26, 2010 - 03:58pm PT
Chris Wegener

Trad climber
St. John, Virgin Islands
Mar 26, 2010 - 05:23pm PT
As mentioned, very interesting and entertaining.

Having just seen the discussed videos, I was completely blown away by Alex's performance. I can't even dream of being able to climb like that.

Absolutely, Alex will do what Alex wants. Its freewill.

Many people are missing Ed's main point. No matter what Alex free solos in the end it will pale in significance to the time he spends with his partner, his children, his friends. As one gets older surprisingly each day becomes more precious and life more important.

Dying for a climb, no matter how amazing, snuffs out any chance to experience the future. This reality is often lost on the young.

I have made many mistakes in my life. I have often wondered if there was anything someone could have said to me to make me realize that I was going to make a mistake and let me change my mind. The only answer I can come to is NO. I would not have listened and would not have heard what was being said. I know this because people who loved me did indeed tell me that there were better choices I could make.

I suspect that this reality is true for most of us. So I wish Alex a long and happy life, whatever he may choose to do.


Boulder climber
Mar 27, 2010 - 08:30am PT
At the risk of tard-iness:

Roger, that was laugh-out-loud funny!

Not to mention a great satire of the issues.

Trad climber
Just me and three kids
Mar 27, 2010 - 12:27pm PT
Brilliant Roger! Thanks.

I think what interesting here is not so much what Ed chose to put "out there," but what it reveals about others' reactions to it (not a lot gets revealed sometimes). For any creation such as painting, sculpture, novels, essays, poetry, kid's doodlings, Tami's drawings, or Locker's, Peter's and Cosmic's photo transformations, etc. there can be two elements.

There is the creator. They do what they do and their reason, if known to anyone, lies with themselves (and sometimes that is not even clear).

Then you add the observer of the art/expression and the observer's reaction. The latter half is a making entirely of the observer.

A stimulating thread, even the tard parts!

To me (and that's all) Ed's writing is like a deep, rich, heavy and complex port. Can't chuck gallons of the stuff at one sitting. But a small glass, slowly sipped, is a delight. Not everyone likes port.

Happy Saturday!
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