CLIMB and PUNISHMENT- An Open Telegram to Alex Honnold


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 61 - 80 of total 291 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:28pm PT
Drummond is an old climbing friend of mine from 35 years back. Although I have always enjoyed his wittiness and enjoyable command of english, in this particular case---his “Climb and Punishment” thread--- I actually do not enjoy it and find it sensationalistic and frankly crude and kooky. Repugnant even and melodramatic. I do understand others have different opinions of course on this.

It would be better if the thread were instead “A Letter to a Young Climber”--- you know that tradition: “Letter to a Young Poet” Rilke etc. and did not take to gnawing on Alex specifically. This way, Ed could go on in abstract and still cover his general subject, a corollary to the big question, can climbing justify its deaths. In fact it really is not any of our business and certainly not Ed’s, to be talking to Alex in this manner in a public forum. Alex above all of us certainly has the clearest picture what the hell he has been up to privately and publically and has shown himself to be extraordinary intelligent as well; he does not need to experience our worry-face baggage.

And it would have been better too, if we had instead just done an Ed Drummond appreciation thread rather than undergo this very strange shocking publicly-born depiction and prayer to someone of whom he hardly has a grasp. I am sure that many would like to converse with Ed here and indeed he can be a gas and he has been around! But for me it is weird---insulting even---and again, none of our damn business what Alex is planning in real detail.

Obviously soloing one of the routes on El Cap is on the minds of many young climbers as it could be the next step taken in climbing. Most everyone knows this is part of our view these days. But it really is not too much different from many solos that have gone before in the last 40 years, just a little bit harder in most cases, this is all. Once you are up more than say 75 feet, everything is an El Cap.

Lake Tahoe
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:29pm 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.

Yep. No one ever took someone else's advice. We're lucky to be alive having never learned from the past or listened to those more wise than us.

It's BS. We all give advice daily and listen to or ignore advice just as often. Every action we take is a product of our environment and genetics. We process the chatter and when it's time to climb, it has a huge affect on our actions. We just want to be arrogant and deny that anyone else's opinions mattered.

And if this guy wants to publicly ask someone else to not take an extreme risk, that is his right. Only time will tell if his concern is justified but he cannot see the future to know. He must act on his own conscience and do what he thinks is right. Condemning him for being concerned about someone else's life? Dumb-asses must live here.


Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:31pm PT
Lot's of respect for Ed, and he is entirely entitled to his opinion. But..

1. Doubtful that Alex would attempt the Nose as a solo. Few people have done it period and there are some very insecure sections. Freerider would be the likely target.
2. I'd argue that given Alex's existing accomplishments, El Cap via Freerider wouldn't be any bigger a step then Croft doing Astroman. Maybe less in some ways.
3. If it is not Alex, it will be someone else sooner or later. Never in history have people stopped pushing boundaries because of what some in earlier generations have thought.

Trad climber
San Diego
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:32pm PT
Survival, I believe that the great roof is 5.13 and changing corners is 5.14-. But I don't think that the nose will see the first free solo. It seems like free rider (12d) or salathe (5.13b) are more likely.

Social climber
Ventura, California
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:33pm PT
Hello Ed,

Nice post.

I like what Roger Breedlove said

while I understand why climbers solo hard, I don't understand why anyone else thinks it is cool.

AND I liked what Bachar always said.

Always use a rope

Nothing left for me to say...


Old Pueblo, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:38pm PT
brother Hank,
didn't think you'd require a smiley face...
it was your "hobo dickcheese" comment ONLY that was next level. NEXT LEVEL IMAGERY.
The rest of your post I agree with.
Chill bruddah. fer realz.

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 04:54pm PT
I don't know Ed. Read his essays before they got collected into that book, and he was one of the authors important in changing climbing's literary culture as well as an important climber.

The post just adds to the sideshow atmosphere. I have no idea if Honnold is seriously planning an El Cap solo (let alone The Nose), but the post as written is going to crank up the peanut gallery for hand-wringing, ranting, and whatever. Worse, since so many STers are also Yos adjacent, it might drive even more groundmonkeys out into the Meadows. Certainly it does nothing to demystify the spectacle.

Eventually, I suppose El Cap Meadows will be our version of Kleine Scheidegg 1938, but without the bad weather and all that unfortunate Nazi business.

I agree with Peter-- this post would have been at least as effective and less problematic had it been couched in generic terms.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Mar 19, 2010 - 05:01pm PT
I hope Alex Honnold is NOT reading this. The free solos are inspirational, but really must come from within.
I kind of agree with Ed though (hi Ed, we met at the base of El Cap), but after all, this is just the taco, a bunch of codgers cutting farts and arguing about which wine is best served with hobo dickcheese.

Tucson, AZ
Mar 19, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
I refuse to slice hobo dickcheese sashimi.

Might it be mistaken for wasabi?

Mar 19, 2010 - 06:06pm PT
Some parts of this discussion remind of one of my favorite songs by the great Cat: Father & Son

It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

//How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.//

It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
if you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
//(Away Away Away, I know I have to
Make this decision alone - no)//

//All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them They know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.//
(Stay Stay Stay, Why must you go and
make this decision alone?)

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 06:19pm PT
sung to the words above....


Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Mar 19, 2010 - 06:26pm PT
This is interesting. I really took interest, with some discomfort, in Drummond's post (I say this knowing that some discomfort was likely intentional on his part.) Peter Haan kind of summarized my feelings too, but there are two things he says which I take issue with...

I think it is questionable that free soloing El Cap is the next logical development in climbing or should be viewed as such. It would certainly be amazing, but a logical development? I'll be more impressed by a free ascent of Mescalito.

After 75 feet "everything is El Cap?" If that were the case then the first free solo would be old news...

the Moon and Antarctica
Mar 19, 2010 - 06:38pm PT
Agree with Ksolem, was going to post up much the same. Logical steps in climbing are made possible by advances in gear; free soloing by its very nature is regressive. Apart from the potential fame and fortune of success, going up El Cap ropeless would remain a one-off stunt. How long would it be until it was repeated, and would it ultimately be anything more than vertical NASCAR?
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 19, 2010 - 06:40pm PT
Perhaps the most interesting and challenging, and poetic, first post ever to grace SuperTopo.

As I read it, Ed isn't saying to Alex "Don't solo" or even "don't solo El Cap". What he seems to be saying, to me, is that before doing anything of the sort Alex should carefully consider everything about it, and if he feels a need to do it, should only do it for himself. That is, pay no attention whatsoever to the real or imagined 'needs' of sponsors, the news media, the community, or others. Absolutely none. Just himself and his family. I've read a lot of what Ed has written, and met him a few times. He doesn't seem the sort who, even as a warrior of yesteryear, would say "don't solo".

It's notable that when Peter Croft was the first to solo Astroman, in 1987, no one knew he was doing it, or saw him. He did it solely for himself, and if I remember the story rightly, the first person he talked to about it was JB at the deli, afterward.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Mar 19, 2010 - 06:42pm PT
Logical steps in climbing are made possible by advances in gear

I don't think we have gotten from 5.10-5.14 solely by gear alone. In fact, gear has had little to do with it. Better training and new techniques have had a much bigger impact.
Ian Jewell

Mar 19, 2010 - 06:45pm PT
" hobo's dickcheese "

4 stars

Mar 19, 2010 - 06:50pm PT
He's saying it for sure; ("don't solo El Cap"), in a veiled subconscious way.

There's no doubt.

Nothing wrong with that at all and it's just plain good ole human nature.

I wish someone would solo El Cap to put everyone in their place.

I don't agree with all this bullsh'it you have to do these things secretly and not have a camera and no one should be watching, etc etc etc.

Blah ........ why everyone so envious and jealous?

Because ....... of nihilism?

the Moon and Antarctica
Mar 19, 2010 - 06:53pm PT
Logical steps in climbing are made possible by advances in gear

I don't think we have gotten from 5.10-5.14 solely by gear alone. In fact, gear has had little to do with it. Better training and new techniques have had a much bigger impact.

Yep, true, was thinking along the lines of shoes and clean pro, but how much in the way of training and technique is really going to lead to a new generation of big-wall free soloists? [If not for ropes and gear to hang from, how many of those new techniques would have evolved at all?]

Ultimately it's the same old fundamental ethics of climbing at all question, pressed to the most extreme possible set of circumstances "Climb if you will, but remember, etc."

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2010 - 07:04pm PT
oh man, even this great thread is turning negative. I generally try to stay quiet in such controversies, but if anything personally I found Peter H's comment way off base. I find Ed's OP a statement from deep affection and coming from deep experience with life. If only ST had more wisdom like his. So speaking from the heart is now "sensationalistic, kooky, and repugnant". For myself I find such shallow critique to be repugnant - kind of ruined my day.

Lets keep in mind, Alex made a movie of his solos. While I hesitantly admire what he's done he certainly can't expect to remain incognito when his feats of daring are plastered all over youtube. The Telegram was no doubt addressed to Honnold, but obviously applies to everyone and anyone who take extreme risks.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 19, 2010 - 07:12pm PT
I agree with the sentiment that one should push themselves, not be pushed to push the line.

As far as next logical development, heck climbing isn't logical at al. For whatever reason, I do see a free solo of El Cap as a milestone that is the next step of opening minds to what is possible. I don't know why this is so, as obviously cratering from El Cap will kill one just as sure as cratering off of Half Dome. But I detect from others comments that there is a similar feeling of, free soloing El Cap, no way man.

Perhaps it's the concern not so much that it isn't possible, but that someone would break the boundry of what we consider impossible. It's nice to think that there are still some challenges that are not only beyond us, but beyond all. And when that breakthrough occurs, to where all will be possible with enough commitment, training and willingness to risk it, well, in a way that is a shame.
Messages 61 - 80 of total 291 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews