7 Stories of Backcountry Pursuits That Will Inspire Your Next Adventure
3. Alex Honnold – Free Solo Ascensionist
Nobody quite does free solo big wall adventure quite like Alex Honnold. “Free soloing”, for those who don’t know, is rock climbing without the use of a harness or a rope – scary when you’re 30 feet above the ground, downright heart-stopping when the nearest landing spot is 3,000ft beneath you! This, is what Alex Honnold does for kicks.
Although Honnold has managed a number of audacious feats worldwide, his happiest hunting ground for spectacular first free solo ascents is on the big walls of Yosemite National Park. Given that Yosemite is a place frequented by thousands of visitors every year, it’s particularly nice to know that there remains an element of discovery and unknown even in the most popular of backcountry locations. Honnold’s first big free solo was on the Northwest face of Half Dome, a 600m climb of vertical, high level rock. He followed that up with several other big climbs in Yosemite, but his most notable to date came with the first free solo ascent of El Capitan on June 3, 2017 on the 2,900ft Freerider route. Honnold conquered the route in a mere 3 hours and 56 minutes. Honnold is not just a climbing demigod, but also one of the sporting world’s genuine good guys and in 2012 started the Honnold Foundation, which “seeks simple, sustainable ways to improve lives world-wide”.