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Banner Year For Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold is undoubtedly the world’s most popular soloist. From Mexico and Patagonia to Yosemite and Squamish, 2014 was a big year for Honnold.

Honnold started 2014 with a solo of the Owen’s River Gorge route Towering Inferno, a five-pitch 5.11b and Gape Index 5.12b/c. He finished climbing all of the 5.13s in Owen’s with his sends of Pennywise, Candy Coloured Clown and Hoarse Platitudes.

He then headed south and soloed the 500-metre El Sendero Luminoso 5.12+ in El Potrero Chico, Mexico, in only three hours. Honnold and Cedar Wright climbed the route four times, cleaning it and rehearsing the moves. They added 300 metres of climbing to the true summit. It is one of the biggest and hardest free solos ever done. During the same trip, Honnold soloed the 15-pitch Yankee Clipper 5.10 in 45 minutes.

In February, Honnold traveled to Patagonia and made the first ascent of the Fitz Roy Traverse with Tommy Caldwell. Honnold wrote about the climb, “Amazing five days in the mountains with Tommy. We climbed so many mountains.” They also made a rare ascent of Blood on the Tracks 5.12, which follows dihedrals up the north face of Rafael Juarez.

Alex Honnold

Back in the States, Honnold soloed the Resolution Arete 5.11 in Red Rocks. Also in the Red, he climbed the traditional routes Atmospheres and Jet Stream, “The topo says 5.12c, but consensus seems more like 5.13a. Definitely stout. Amazing corners on gear,” wrote Honnold about Jet Stream. He also climbed The Ivory Tower 5.13 and Desert Solitaire 5.13 up the Rainbow Wall. He then headed to Moab and climbed Excommunication in Castle Valley, “The best route in Castle Valley! Amazing!!” wrote Honnold. He also made a rare free ascent of The Finger of Fate 5.12 on The Titan.

In June, Honnold and Dave Allfrey climbed seven El Cap routes in seven days, setting speed records on a number of them. In total they climbed 173 pitches up to 5.13: Zodiac Wall, Lurking Fear, Tangerine Trip, Eagles Way, New Jersey Turnpike, El Nino and The Nose.

In the summer, Honnold made his annual trip to Squamish. He climbed Permanent Waves, 2001, Lost Highway, Swamp Thing and Sandstorm, all 5.13+. He also climbed the 5.13- routes Vultures Circling, North Star, Project Grizzly and The Wire. Honnold wrote about North Star, “Amazing position. And it stays dry in the rain.” Honnold sent the impressive Opal 5.13, and Solid Booster Rocket. “Solid Booster Rocket might be the hardest 5.13as in the world,” wrote Honnold.

During his trip to Squamish, Honnold made three impressive solos: High Plains Drifter 5.11c, the first free solo ascent of University Wall 5.12b and got the solo speed record for the Grand Wall (Apron Strings to the Roman Chimneys in 38 minutes). “University Wall Solo!! Long time dream, finally done. Maybe two hours car-to-car, including the Roman Chimneys and the barefoot stroll down.”

Honnold then traveled to his home crag, Yosemite’s El Cap. Within six weeks, he climbed four of the famous 5.13 Yosemite big wall free routes. In October, he climbed the 5.12s Direct North Face of the Sentinel, The Vortex, Matah, Gravity Ceiling and Psychedelic Wall. In November, with Tommy Caldwell, Honnold climbed El Corazon, “Awesome day of climbing with Tommy! Fell on first 5.13b and last 5.12a, but redpointed each. Swung leads and hauling, 15.5 hours of fun,” wrote Honnold. To round off November, Honnold sent The Pre Muir Wall 5.13, The Shaft 5.13 and the South Face 5.13+ of Washington Column.

An impressive year to say the least.

Alex Honnold on The Pre Muir Wall Photo John Dickey Source National Geographic's extreme photo of the week
John Dickey captures Alex Honnold moments before his fall on the final 5.12-pitch on The Pre Muir Wall Photo John Dickey Source National Geographic’s extreme photo of the week