Good Sports: Alex Honnold

Stephen Hicks Image
Friday, September 28, 2018
Good Sports: Alex Honnold
EMBED <>More Videos

He is the only person to have free-soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Alex Honnold talks with us about the risk and rewards of his sport.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KFSN) -- The giant granite walls of the Yosemite Valley are the center of the rock climbing universe.

One of the stars in that universe is Alex Honnold, who has the sport to new heights.

Honnold returned to the National Park this week to debut his upcoming feature film.

The mere announcement of his arrival drew hundreds of fans to make the pilgrimage to Yosemite, to catch a glimpse of him in person.

"It is pretty meaningful that people want to see the film and that people care about the things that I'm climbing, said Honnold. "I am sort of touched that people appreciate it."

Honnold's resume of routes includes every big wall in Yosemite, from the northwest face of Half Dome to the 3,000-foot face of El Capitan.

But what makes his climbs extraordinary, is that it's done with a technique called free-soloing, meaning he climbs with nothing more than his climbing shoes and a bag of chalk to dry sweaty hands.

If he wasn't before, after free soloing El Cap, he became a literal rock star with appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and the release of his feature film "Free Solo."

To escape the crowds, Action News caught up with Alex in the Yosemite wilderness to discuss the risk of free soloing, in which one slip, can mean death.

"The thing is it's hard for you to evaluate the risk. The idea of me actually falling off, and the idea is that with enough preparation the odds of you falling off, are actually quite low. So the whole appeal of free soloing is to take something that seems too dangerous, and too crazy, and to make it feel safe."

The Sacramento native spent two years going up and down El Capitan to prepare for his free solo last summer.

Fellow climber Tommy Caldwell, who himself climbed the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in 2015 called Alex's climb the "moon landing of free soloing."

"I don't know if I want to say the trick to doing things that seem impossible but just to choose goals that you may initially dismiss as 'that's crazy' or 'that's impossible' but then break it down and think about it objectively like 'maybe I can do that if I try it the right way.'"

At 33 years of age, the question Alex is now facing: What's next?

"I don't know if I'll be free soloing forever. I'll certainly be climbing my whole life just because I love climbing, but I don't know if I'll have to do cutting-edge free soloing my whole life just because we'll see what I'm inspired by."

While Alex waits for inspiration, the climbing community continues to be inspired by this supreme athlete who has already reached the pinnacle of his sport, while remaining down to earth.