Tag Archives: alex honnold

Alone on the Wall

Alex Honnold is a world renowned rock climber.  He is mainly known for his free solo climbs of very large rock faces like Half Dome in Yosemite.  When I say “free solo climb,” I mean that he climbs major walls…alone…with no rope in case he falls.  Just the thought of this is sheer terror.

He has written a book about his life called Alone on the Wall. It’s a fascinating book if you are at all interested in climbing.  Yosemite, where he has done many of his most famous climbs,  is one of my favorite spots so I listened (audio version of the book) through the book in a couple of days.  Mr. Honnold is impressive, dedicated, and admirable, although he really cannot explain why he does what he does.  What drives a man to risk so much for the sake of being able to say that he climbed a huge wall by himself without ropes?  I cannot say, and neither, at the end of the day, can Mr. Honnold.  Sure, he will tell you why he does it, but none of it makes much sense, which I suppose is ultimately the point.  He is doing things that no one in the world has ever tried and succeeding because he can and because he wants to, this seems sufficient for him.

The problem is that, sooner or later, he will probably fall and die like so many other climbers who have come before him and taken major risks.  All of his friends are afraid this will happen, mainly because they understand the risks better than we landlubbers do.

In one of the memorable parts of the book a lady asks him how he feels when he sees himself on camera free soloing these huge walls, Mr. Honnold’s answer: “My hands get clammy.”

At any rate, he is a fascinating [and to all accounts kind and intelligent] person and the book is well worth reading.