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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Putting Alex Honnold's Free Climb of El Cap into Perspective

By now, the world knows all about Alex Honnold's impressive free climb of the 3000-foot (914 meter) Freerider route on El Capitan in Yosemite. This past Saturday, he set out to scale that iconic line without the use of ropes, reaching the top in a little less than four hours without using any type of safety device. It is one of the most daring, dangerous, scary, and wild climbs ever attempted, and there are exceedingly few – if any other – people on the planet who could pull it off. 

Since the announcement of Alex's accomplishment hit the newswires a number of climbers have stepped forward to offer their thoughts on what this means for the sport. Most view it as a monumental shift in what is believed to be possible, with some saying that it not only ranks amongst the best climbs ever done, but that it is actually amongst the most impressive achievements in any sport – ever. 

One of the best article's I've read on this story comes our way courtesy of Tommy Caldwell who wrote about the climb for Outside magazine. The post, which can be found here, explains in no uncertain terms just how difficult this climb is and why the very thought of it is mind boggling, even to someone as accomplished as Caldwell. Tommy also happens to know Alex very well, and was climbing with him in Yosemite the day before he made his historic ascent. In a previous article, he referred to it as the "moon landing" of free climbing. 

As if that wasn't enough, Alpinist magazine called Honnold's climb “indisputably the greatest free solo of all time,” which helps to put it further into perspective. Legendary climber Peter Croft described the feat as “... the obvious next step. But after this, I really don’t see what’s next. This is the big classic jump.” Gripped magazine went on to add that this was by far the most groundbreaking accomplishment of Alex's already incredibly career. 

In short, we're looking at a major shift in climbing and it is nearly impossible to overstate just how big this is for the sport. Hopefully we won't see a major rash of other climbers looking to repeat Alex's success, as there are very few who could pull it off. Still, it is wildly impressive and he deserves all of the accolades that have come is way and are sure to follow in the days ahead.

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