How could they do that? And without telling Honnold about what they would do when it happened. The historic event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story. The high stakes also transferred to the film crew. Videographers looked like window washers. First ascent of a 45-foot face in.
As Free Solo progresses, the bond between Honnold and McCandless grows stronger, enough to lure him out of his van lifestyle and into a home in Las Vegas he approves because of the nearby climbing opportunities. I had already completed that climb with a rope many, many times. Indeed, Honnold felt so good on the day of the climb that he smiled for the cameras. I memorized five or six pitches in their entirety, and then tons of little sequences here and there. In 1986, John Bachar and Peter Croft took it a step further when they climbed both Half Dome and the Nose in one day.
And then the crux of the crux involves this crazy karate kick into this corner, which requires a high degree of flexibility and precision, because you're kicking at mid-chest height way out to the side, and once your foot's over there you have to bring your hand over. What Caldwell and Jorgeson did is called free climbing, which means climbers use no gear to help them move up the mountain and are attached to ropes only to catch them if they fall. I remember all the scenes, all the climbing moments. Alex Honnold, the subject of Free Solo, is a man given to extreme focus, obsessive drive, and a highly spartan lifestyle, meaning he lives out of a van and mostly eats cans of beans warmed on a hot plate. Archived from on 22 July 2011. My orbit was tiny and really cheap. I destroyed that van fairly quickly; it died on me one day, and for the next year I lived just on my bicycle and in a tent.
It was when you pulled this off, and some people felt that your accomplishment would inspire lesser imitators, who could die. Honnold says he is inspired by such noted climbers as , and and even more so by the stark simplicity and beauty of El Capitan. It's what makes the Boulder Problem so tough. The two make an appealing and revealing match. He had been featured on the covers of , New York Times Magazine, Outside, and 60 Minutes had profiled him. I was already scheduled to go on an expedition to Antarctica this last winter.
If the weight of the rope and the gear is an extra 10 pounds, that starts to really contribute to fatigue. He is obsessive about his training, which includes hour-long sessions every other day hanging by his fingertips and doing one- and two-armed pullups on a specially-made apparatus that he bolted into the doorway of his van. And that was never me. In 1975 Jim Bridwell, Billy Westbay, and John Long showed that the wall could be climbed in a day with their 15-hour ascent of the Nose. Honnold spent years preparing for the climb, climbing the route many times with ropes, making detailed notes about exactly what he would do without one.
How did you deal with the possibility that this could be a record of your death? Though, honestly, the van is kind of nice. But I always just loved climbing in gyms. When everything's facing sideways, if your foot slips or if anything happens, you're shooting off the rock face—no matter how hard you're holding on. That's sort of the unglamorous side—making something secure enough to solo it. The Southwest face of El Capitan, as seen from the valley floor. Free soloing is when a climber is alone and uses no ropes or any other equipment that aids or protects him as he climbs, leaving no margin of error. I didn't live in a dorm.
I called my girlfriend, called my mom. Those free solos astonished the climbing world and set new benchmarks in much the same way that Roger Bannister redefined distance running when he broke the four-minute mile in 1954. The main thing for me was to have unstructured time, where I had nothing going on and I could just sit in my chair in the van and naturally start to think about the things that matter on the route. You have to be physically and psychologically willing to get into that position. The free soloing is just sort of the extension of this love for climbing. But what if you had to do it tomorrow? The day before the climb, I went for a hike with my mom and some of her friends who happened to be coming through the valley that day, and I did some light bouldering, just to break in my good shoes again.
Chin, himself an expert climber, estimates that he and the team of veteran climbers spent more than 30 days rigging and shooting on El Cap. In my one year at Berkeley, I never met anybody. In 2015, Honnold together with fellow climber Tommy Caldwell was awarded the for the first full traverse of the Fitz Roy Range in Patagonia, Argentina. When I finally saw it, I actually found it quite moving and really beautiful. How do you feel about watching that aspect of your relationship in the movie? That is, until Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore made the first ascent in an 11-day push, after more than a year of fixing ropes up the 3,000 foot wall. On June 17, 2012, the two set a new record of 2:23:46 or 2:23:51 on that same route.
I wonder the same thing about big wave surfing — a sport I have no knowledge about that looks totally insane. I arrived in Yosemite in late April, and from then until I did the climb in June, I only left once. On June 6, 2018, Honnold teamed up with to break the speed record for the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite. He sat down on a rooftop at the Toronto International Film Festival to discuss his experiences with the project, his favorite climbing movies, and why he was willing to accept that he might die on camera. It was more beautiful than I anticipated.