Honnold Free Solos El Cap !


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Jun 3, 2017 - 01:27pm PT
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” – Jimi Hendrix

Alex loves to climb!


Jun 3, 2017 - 01:38pm PT

They thought there is no Superman .....

Trad climber
da Gunks
Jun 3, 2017 - 01:39pm PT
This is easily in the running for "single greatest feat of rock climbing in history" along with The Dawn Wall and Lynn Hill's free ascent The Nose and her free ascent of The Nose in under 24 hours.

Though I have to ask the question ... since free-soloing anything of this magnitude is so far beyond the rest of the climbing world ... does this simply exist in a category all its own? Like, there's "the single greatest feat of rock climbing" and then there's this free-solo which exists in a universe all its own? Maybe I'm climbing up my own butt with semantics here ... but it expresses just how far beyond all the rest of us this climb is.

Anyway, from what I've read Freerider is rated 12d, but it sounds like Honnold elected to climb the 5.13b variation on the headwall.

The two sections that sound mind-numbingly insane to free-solo are the Monster Off-Width and the Teflon Corner. From what I've heard and read, the Teflon Corner has a 12d crux. I cannot even begin to imagine free-soloing a friction crux of that difficulty. I remember doing one pitch of 11c friction at Suicide Rock ... and I called it "science friction" ... it was that insubstantial. To climb enormous lengths of 5.11 friction 600-1000ft up on El Cap ... with a 12d crux ... that's just unfathomably insane.

Looking at the topo there appears to be a 12d Huber variation to the Teflon Corner. Anyone know if this is also friction climbing -- is it still in the Teflon Corner? From the NatGeo article it's certainly described that he was doing major friction climbing. Similar question for the Monster Off-Width ... there appears to be a 13c variation for this pitch, but it sounds like Honnold did the off-width. Anyone with more specific info ... would love know the particulars.

//Apparently he rapped the route and chalk-ticked some key holds before making the free-solo.

Does anyone consider this "cheating?" I don't. I think it's self-preservation. But I have a feeling some purists out there might consider it a little less than fully on the up and up//

Still ... this is without doubt the most outrageous, mind-blowing bit of climbing ever accomplished.

Love this photo below ... the two giants of two generations of free-soloing.

Also ... now that the deed has been done ... this article from Australia about Honnold considering doing the free-solo of Freerider two years ago is fascinating to read in retrospect:


looks easy from here

Ben Lomond, CA
Jun 3, 2017 - 01:49pm PT
Apparently he rapped the route and chalk-ticked some key holds before making the free-solo.

Does anyone consider this "cheating?" I don't. I think it's self-preservation. But I have a feeling some purists out there might consider it a little less than fully on the up and up.

If any "purists" think they can do it in what they consider better style let 'em try. Otherwise they're just blowhards blowharding. It's not like he was even being secretive about the scouting and ticking.

Social climber
Wise Acres
Jun 3, 2017 - 01:52pm PT

Excellent Adventure is out there too!

Trad climber
da Gunks
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:01pm PT
If any "purists" think they can do it in what they consider better style let 'em try. Otherwise they're just blowhards blowharding. It's not like he was even being secretive about the scouting and ticking.

Agreed. It's probably a BS question on my part. Obviously a free-solo of this magnitude requires several recon climbs and I think any and all prep to pull it off is fair game. I was particularly impressed with Honnold's pre-inspection on rap to make sure the route hadn't gotten wet and that his chalk ticks were still in place. Especially with those friction sections, laying out a few chalk ticks is probably all that separates life from death.

The question probably only entered my brain because I'm old enough to have experienced the "purists" of the bolt war days and a few of the most extreme were so "pure" they hated chalk and guide books anything else that wasn't absolutely ground up, no pre-inspection climbing. Thankfully, it appears those "purists" have died out.

I think we can simply look at the chalk ticks as further proof of just how BEYOND this ascent was.

I'm still trying to get my head around it.

mike a.

Sport climber
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:13pm PT
Congrats Alex you are on top of the climbing world this is the greatest athletic achievement in history, you have sure come alone ways since I first saw you climbing at Jailhouse, the climbing world takes it's hat off to you today wow!!! Amazing stuff!!!

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:16pm PT
Holy banannas! Makes my palms sweat just thinking about that. Congrats to Alex.

And there's a part of me that hopes he sees this as a high point and doesn't continue to push even harder.

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:30pm PT
I am ranking this just behind the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary.

Social climber
The internet
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:35pm PT
Amazing, the game has been changed forever, congrats.

However, I hope he retires from this activity, as his odds of living to old age just went waaaayyy down, time to walk away.
Tom Bruskotter

Trad climber
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:37pm PT
Congratulations Alex!
This is the greatest athletic achievement in history.

San Jose, CA
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:41pm PT
Can you imagine the crux dyno unroped? Talk about low probability - dire consequences*
Nope, since I don't even know what it's like roped. Anyone have a video clip of it?

Is it this sequence, starting at the 3:43 mark?
[Click to View YouTube Video]

Or a more static variation of the sequence, but still looks hard as hell, starting at the 3:09 mark:
[Click to View YouTube Video]

Big Wall climber
Richmond, CA
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:42pm PT
I am both stunned, and more than a little nauseous. I honestly want to be happy for Alex, and yet at the same time, I want to duct tape him to a tree or something.
The Dak

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 3, 2017 - 02:44pm PT
I watched this morning from the meadow as it went down. Interestingly enough there was essentially no one else around. Not surprising, as the crew kept it pretty under wraps. I couldn't help but smile watching hundreds of tourist-filled vehicles passing beneath, unaware of what was happening thousands of feet above. A breath of fresh air (IMO) from the craziness I remember from watching Alex and Hans set the Nose speed record almost exactly 5 years ago.

He was motoring. Didn't stop at the end of "pitches" from what I could tell. I spotted him just after the Boulder Problem and watched until he disappeared out of sight over to Roundtable Ledge. There were at least three cameramen dangling from ropes right around the top of the second Enduro Corner pitch/Salathe Roof. Seemed like he had to climb through one of their ropes as he did the traverse, which made me chuckle. I'm sure the footage will be incredible.

To clarify a few people above discussing difficulty, which variations he took, etc:

Instead of climbing the incredibly insecure 12d Teflon Corner (where Skinner/Piana went), he climbed the 13a Boulder Problem pitch, which was established by the Hubers at 12d, but has become harder since a key hold in the sequence broke. It is a fairly insecure V6/7 slab boulder problem.

I believe he climbed the Bermuda Dunes entrance into the Monster Offwidth, which avoids the difficult 11d downclimb into the Monster, and in doing so tacks on an extra 30ish meters of hand-to-offwidth solid 5.11 crack climbing. Far more secure.

He didn't appear to stop at the hanging belay that breaks up the two Enduro Corner pitches high on the route. Going at 11d and 12b respectively, most people consider that pitch 12d if you link them. The beginning of the second pitch (or middle of linked pitch) is far from secure, usually climbed with insecure knee bars and tips locks.

But of course, all the grades should be knocked down a bit since he didn't have to climb with the weight of a harness, gear, or rope to weigh him down. Though maybe that gets offset by the huge set of balls he had to drag up the route? :)

Wowzers. What a feat.

Trad climber
Jun 3, 2017 - 03:05pm PT
Not just sporting but one of the all time achievements in any field by a single human
The Isaac Newton of climbing

Trad climber
da Gunks
Jun 3, 2017 - 03:09pm PT
Surfing around the net today ... trying to get some more context and perspective on this free-solo ... stumbled upon this article by James "Peaches" Lucas.

It's about his arduous journey to free climb Freerider.

It includes his 90 foot fall while free-soloing a J-Tree 5.9 ... his unprotected and semi-protected falls while working Freerider ... his teaming up with Honnold who was doing recon ascents of Freerider. Also provides a lot of the specifics of the route I was looking for. I've found out that the NatGeo article when talking about all the friction climbing was likely describing the Freeblast section of the route. I'm still not 100% solid on the Teflon Corner -- it sounds like the Huber variation to the Teflon Corner is the Boulder Problem that used to originally go at 13a but is now supposed to be harder ever since some Australian climbers ripped off a jug with their haul rope -- but it's supposedly the part that most climbers will go for. I'm guessing that Honnold probably did the Huber variation to the Telfon Corner. (Also discovered from a different article bby Oli Lyon that there's a wild dyno in the Teflon Corner/Huber Pitch -- but that Tommy Caldwell has beta that allows for a climber to avoid the dyno with a "karate kick.")

***EDITED TO ADD: Was simul-posting when SomebodyAnbody and The Dak provided some helpful clarity on these pitches. Thanks!

Anyway ... the Lucas article is wonderfully written and really provides some thought-provoking reflection on what happens when a free-solo goes bad ... and what it takes to come back from something like that and what it takes to prepare to be able to climb a route like Freerider.

James Lucas article:

Oli Lyon article:


Jun 3, 2017 - 03:11pm PT
Very well done.
Glad he came back in one recognizable piece
Is anyone from the first El Cap ascent team alive to bear witness to this amazing feat? Milestones still to be had. Pretty impressive

Trad climber
under the sea
Jun 3, 2017 - 03:11pm PT
Wow. Speechless.

Clark Kent lives in a van down by the river!

Balcarce, Argentina
Jun 3, 2017 - 03:12pm PT
I was sounding like the guy in this video, after I started reading this thread

[Click to View YouTube Video]

Former YNP VIP Ranger
Jun 3, 2017 - 03:15pm PT
Simply incredible. Well done, Alex.

My wife tends to find rock and mountain climbers as reckless daredevils (she's been reading too many Jon Krakauer books). When I shared the NatGeo article with her, her opinion changed. The preparation - both mental and physical - is quite impressive.

Definitely a feat for the ages. Maybe free-soloing DOWN El Cap would top it. :)
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