CLIMB and PUNISHMENT- An Open Telegram to Alex Honnold


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Trad climber
New Durham, NH
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:03pm PT
I look at Ed's post as more of a cautionary warning from someone who has lived the climbing life and is passing on his wealth of knowledge to the next generation.

I admire that because as was noted up-thread, there are many other amazing climbers who left us too soon, and unfortunately for all of us, we can never hear their voices, posts, or wisdom again. Who knows what they would have added to the sport, or to the lives of their family and friends, had they not perished on their last climb.

I was a minor player on the edge team that lowered Werner some 600' down NA wall to rescue a roped soloing Ed Drummond in 1984(?), the same rescue that two Zodiac climbers were helped up and over. I remember how grateful Ed was to be safe after his ordeal, and thinking how fortunate I was to have an opportunity to meet and chat with him on our way up to the summit that night to camp.

Think about the wealth Ed has added since that day to the global climbing community, and what many lost when the Japanese who tried to top off the Nose during that same storm died during their brave struggle.

Ed's warning is cautionary, but I see it as loving as well, and given the source it makes me proud to be a climber.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:12pm PT
Hi Ed,

I started a formal welcome to SuperTopo thread Welcome Ed Drummondso it is easy to spot. It may not be necessary since you seem to have hit a nerve with your telegram to Alex.

I have a picture above my work desk of Alex standing on "Thank God Ledge." It helps me ponder the imponderables: while I understand why climbers solo hard, I don't understand why anyone else thinks it is cool.

In some darkened corner of my mind, years ago, I remember you telling me, "Come my friend, we must all die. Why moan about it so."

Welcome to ST, verbal poet/warrior.

Trad climber
Left Hand, CO
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:14pm PT
Thanks for understanding Tom Woods. When I said that, it was merely that I just don't think Alex cares or gives thoughts to anyone else on what he would or would not climb, in the manner he chooses to climb it. I said nothing bad about Ed or anything, just an opinion.

drljefe, chill dude. If you can't accept flowery opinions, go to They can't wait for your NEXT LEVEL?????? Oooooohhhhhhh!


Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:16pm PT
This isn't directed at anyone directly...

The old will offer their wisdom while the youth will feign listening. It's a repetitive cycle. As time plods along its methodical course the youth will one day take the shoes of the old and offer their wisdom - and the cycle will repeat itself.

There stands a reasonable chance that if Alex does do the solo he will one day look back on it and think it was a stupid idea. He'll see his motivations. He'll see the true and meaningful ones and he'll see the deceit in the others. And one day he'll offer his wisdom, his opinion, oblivious to Ed's offering here. There is no hypocrisy in this. None. Just the cycle.

Mountain climber
Central California
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:19pm PT
One of the things that struck me in his movie of the Half Dome and Moonlight Buttress solos was his comment that each of his moves is "100% solid."

Unfortunately, the rock is not 100% solid. Bomber holds break, rockfall occurs. Imagine getting hit in the eyes or hand by during a crucial sequence by rockfall and not being able to see or use one hand...Scary!

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:24pm PT

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

nature, i concur.

i didn't mean that Ed should not share his caution. I only met that, though it makes sense within his heart, it may not make sense within alex.

Trad climber
East Bay
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:25pm PT
There are two kinds of climbers, BOLD climbers or OLD climbers, not both.

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:26pm PT
they didn't have the dream....

as in this particular dream.
gonzo chemist

a crucible
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:31pm PT
It seems to me that if a warning and a plea is to be issued to A. Honnold and perhaps others who wish to cast off ropeless on such perilous adventures as free soloing big walls, then a warning and a plea needs to be issued to those who wish to head off into the big mountains.

How many perished last year in the mountains due to rockfall, avalanches, etc.? Heading out onto the vast flanks of snowy peaks can prove be a grim undertaking...

I don't wish to confuse the disciplines of free-soloing and mountaineering, but they both are admittedly dangerous; and a measure of consistency should be applied to any such appeal for rational fore-thought...

the Fet

Mar 19, 2010 - 02:31pm PT
Great statement. Alex may or may not read it, but eloquently expressing his concern is thoughtful.

I can't begin to string words together like that but I would say to Alex:

* Make sure you are rock solid and confident in any climb your are going to free solo
* Do it for yourself, forget about everything else that motivates you and if you would do it without cameras or anyone else knowing about it, then still do it. Nothing wrong with cameras and publicity but you should do it because you want to challenge yourself, everyone else is just along for the ride.
* Think positive and confident going into it, but if things seem off, don't be resistant to backing off.
* Free soloing generates a lot of attention because it's badass. But don't let that detract from your other climbing accomplishments for yourself. Do what you want and let the people appreciate it how they want.

Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:37pm PT
There are two kinds of climbers, BOLD climbers or OLD climbers, not both.

That statement is illogical.

There are more than enough older climbers that are bold. Donini comes to mind. And with that there are more than enough young climbers not BOLD enough to sack up to what Jim has done in his life.... ever.

Essentially that logic states that if you are OLD you are not BOLD. it would then follow that if you are KNOTT OLD you are BOLD. And in the context our discussion here - Alex's BOLDness - how do you measure up?

That's that I thought.

Weegie.... got it!

Riley: I sent you a PM. Wanted to give you a call.

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:39pm PT

Great post. Powerful!

To each their own but I for one would never judge Alex on his accomplishments in climbing and how he accomplished those climbs but on his character as a person.

We all know the consequences of his style, What is the reward?

The reward is his and his alone no one shares in that.
The consequences will be shared by his family and freinds?


Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 02:41pm PT
A quick digression....

almost 60 posts in two hours and:
a) it's not a troll
b) it's 100% related to climbing


Edit: where's coz? ;-)

Mar 19, 2010 - 02:44pm PT
Doesn't matter jack sh'it what anyone says here or anywhere, as it's all talk.

When you're the climber ready to go, ... all your own internal psych and spirit will dictate what you will ultimately do or not do, regardless of all the chatter from the outside world.


Mar 19, 2010 - 02:54pm PT
Life's greatest pleasure and reward is to take in a breath of good air, knowing nothing prevents another from following thereafter.

Nothing, least of all us, can keep another from thinking differently.

Our challenge is to go on undisturbed, whatever the outcome.

The expenditure - is not ours.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 19, 2010 - 03:01pm PT
When you're the climber ready to go, ... all your own internal psych and spirit will dictate what you will ultimately do or not do, regardless of all the chatter from the outside world.

Sometimes makes one wonder if the chatter drives the internal psych a bit.

Funny, all these solo ascents aren't just whispered around a campfire as part of climbing lore. They're on video.

"Dream of White Horses" indeed! Just fondled my copy yesterday, in fact.

Cheers and welcome, Ed!!

Why the image of that fart from your El Cap solo is stuck in my head, I just can't figure out. Visual imagery or some such. Yikes!

-Brian in SLC
ps: Hank: I even pulled a quote from that book for our 'proj trivia. Too funny.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 19, 2010 - 03:07pm PT
Climbers are individualistic, anarchistic, loners who don't take direction very well. I've learned not to give out much advice unless requested.

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Mar 19, 2010 - 03:44pm PT
Mr Edwin, what a pleasure. We climbed together at last years climb in at Sonora. A fine gentleman we have here folks.

Well written and well intentioned.

Does Alex ever post up here?

Trad climber
The beckoning silence
Mar 19, 2010 - 03:59pm PT
I have been thinking the same things that Nature has (no need for Team Popcorn™... yet!). Here is a post that is eloquently written from what seems a very genuine and heartfelt place. I don't think Ed means to impose his will and "tell" Alex what is right, wrong or something in between. It feels more like a request or even a plea to just consider what he's seen on his experienced path. Alex can consider, ignore, launch sh#t-bombs, etc. and then go do whatever he finds best in his own heart and soul.

It's about climbing (this thread)!

It's provocative!

Not everyone agrees, but folks are thoughtfully and intelligently and (dare I say it?) respectfully presenting their own thoughts and feelings and considering those of others. What fun!

Who'da thunk?

I like what Werner, jstan and Donini have to say. You guys are making me think today! To be honest, the OT stuff, which I choose to read or not read of my own free will, also makes me think and be inspired on occasion. But I can get that elsewhere too. This kind of thread is pretty unique to this kind of place.

And "hobos dickcheese".... Hank, you are a treasure! I am so grateful for all of your voices.


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:01pm PT
Sometimes makes one wonder if the chatter drives the internal psych a bit.

Funny, all these solo ascents aren't just whispered around a campfire as part of climbing lore. They're on video.

This is part of the key question to me.
Even in Preuss's day, these guys didn't do this stuff inside a bubble.
People knew about it, talked about it, and watched when they could.

The idea that outside forces, attitudes, and input don't add to the soloists internal psych, drive and motivation....well...
I would bet he's got a little posse of friends/submen telling him "You can do it man!"

He's a nice mellow guy. But he allowed himself to be filmed on H.D.

Fame, sponsors, money, these are strong drugs that even Alex isn't immune to.

Even when I did the first solo of relatively minor Karate crack, I was driven by things beyond my own little purist zen state. I KNEW that people would hear about it.

How hard is the Great Roof? Changing Corners?

How many 5.12, 13, 14 pitches are there?
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