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Alex Honnold Free-Solos Univesity Wall 5.12 in Squamish

Alex Honnold made the first free-solo of University Wall 5.12, one of Squamish’s most iconic routes, in summer 2014. Tim Auger, Hamish Mutch, Dan Tate and Glenn Woodward made the first ascent of University Wall over a number of sessions between 1965 and 1966. In 1982, Peter Croft, Greg Foweraker and Hamish Fraser made the first free ascent of University Wall at 5.12a.

About University Wall, Honnold said, “I climbed the U Wall on my first trip to Squamish something like eight years ago. It’s always represented that burly crack climbing style to me. It’s like the hardman version of Astroman. I’d wanted to solo it [during] other seasons in Squamish, but it’s often wet so I’d never had the opportunity. This year I had good conditions and actually felt up to it.”

Honnold free-soloed the route, including the upper four pitches of the Roman Chimneys, car-to-car in only two hours. His solo is one of the most cutting-edge and bold sends in the history of Canadian rock climbing.

Honnold continued about University Wall, “I’d climbed the U Wall many times before over my four different summers in Squamish. This season alone, I climbed it three times with three different friends. Cedar [Wright] and I climbed it in the rain on a day that would otherwise have been too wet to climb. (The U Wall shelters itself a bit.) Ultimately, climbing the route ahead of time wasn’t the most important part though. I hadn’t been up on it in two and a half weeks, but for whatever reason it just felt like it was time. I knew I would be ok, and I just went up there and climbed it. I guess the main thing was that in all the times I’ve climbed the U Wall I’ve never fallen off it, despite leading with a pack, linking pitches, climbing in the rain, etcetera, etcetera. I just had to go up and trust myself to climb as well as I always had before.”

On Aug. 17, Honnold soloed 290 pitches in and around Squamish for his 29th birthday. On July 30, 2010 Honnold and Will Stanhope linked four routes in a day on The Chief The Free Grand 5.13b, University Wall 5.12a, Northern Lights 5.12a and Freeway 5.11c. In total they climbed 40 pitches in 13.5 hours.

Birthday Challenge