A Project for Better Journalism chapter
The Year in Review

Free Solo: The Amazing Feat

Have you ever imagined yourself inches away from falling to your death for nearly four hours? If you’re an average human, the thought probably gives you chills and doesn’t come up too often. Professional climber Alex Honnold became the first human to ever experience this feeling on the 3,200 foot wall of El Capitan. His world record climb was spectacularly documented in the National Geographic original film Free Solo.

To “free solo” means to climb alone with no ropes. Around 120 climbers have died free soloing, 31 of which have done so attempting to climb El Capitan. Free Solo shows Honnold’s multiyear training regimen as he planned to tackle the wall. He began training with fellow professional climber Tommy Caldwell, where he scaled El Capitan with ropes several times in order to memorize the mountain, to know which foothold to grab every step of the way.

Despite all the training and preparation, Honnold and his crew remained wary of the dangerous task ahead. Filmmaker and professional climber Jimmy Chin said, “It’s hard to not imagine your friend falling through the frame to his death.” Honnold, showing his passion for his sport, said, “I think the free soloing mentality is pretty close to warrior culture, where you give something 100% focus because your life depends on it.” Fear was not enough to stop Honnold, as his focus prevailed and led him to glory. To emphasize, Free Solo won best documentary at the 2018 Oscars. Overall, the documentary gets you to care about a person who performed one of the most spectacular feats in human history. Now nearly internationally renowned as the world’s best climber, Honnold is already searching for his next adventure.