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Alex Honnold Makes Historic First Free-Solo of El Capitan

National Geographic broke the news today that American climber Alex Honnold has made the first free-solo ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite.

Honnold, known as one of the world’s most accomplished climbers, soloed Freerider 5.12d in three hours and 56 minutes after starting at 5:32 a.m.

Alexander and Thomas Huber made the first free ascent of Freerider in 1998 and it has become a must-do for strong Yosemite climbers.

Photo by @jimmy_chin | Renowned rock climber @alexhonnold climbs Yosemite’s El Capitan on Saturday making the first rope-free ascent of the iconic 3,000-foot granite wall. It is arguably the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport. He ascended the peak in three hours, fifty-six minutes, taking the final moderate pitch at a near run. Under a blue sky and few wisps of cloud, he pulled his body over the rocky lip of summit at 9:28 a.m. PDT. A team of filmmakers, led by @jimmy_chin, one of Honnold’s longtime climbing partners, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhely, captured the ascent for an upcoming National Geographic Documentary Films feature. You can read Mark Synnott’s exclusive account of the climb, which was more than a year in the making, on nationalgeographic.com or by swiping up on our Instagram Story. #history #elcapitan #yosemite

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There had been rumours about Honnold’s plan to solo Freerider for over a year. Climber Jimmy Chin videoed the solo for an upcoming documentary.

Honnold has a history of amazing solos, from Moonlight Buttress to University Wall to Half Dome, but this is by far the most groundbreaking.

He and Tommy Caldwell were awarded a Piolet d’Or in 2015 for their Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia.

“With free-soloing, obviously I know that I’m in danger, but feeling fearful while I’m up there is not helping me in any way,” Honnold said. “It’s only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and leave it be.”

Read more about Honnold’s historic ascent in a story by Mark Synnott here. Listen to Gripped editor Brandon Pullan and Honnold talk about climbing below.

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