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Is Alex Honnold Training for Everest?

He recently returned from Antarctica where he climbed the continent's highest mountain. He's probably not training for Everest, but it seems like he's preparing for something big

Alex Honnold is training for something, but we probably won’t know what it is until he’s there or until he’s climbed it. The Las Vegas-based climber was just on an expedition to learn about high-altitude climbing. He and Esteban “Topo” Mena made an ascent of Mount Vinson, the highest peak on Antarctica.

Honnold has been known to have a strong aerobic base and is one of the world’s best big-wall rock climbers, so could it be possible that he’s training for more high altitude climbing, possibly in the Himalayas and possibly on or around Everest? And if not there, then where? Will it be a big snow climb or could it be a high altitude rock/ice/snow line?

Honnold is no stranger to alpine climbing, having received a Piolet d’Or for the Fitz Roy Traverse with Tommy Caldwell in 2014. In 2013, Honnold, Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson teamed up for three fast ascents in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge. They made the second ascent of The Pearl on Mount Bradley in a 40-hour round trip from base camp. They also made the first one-day ascent of the southeast face of Mount Dickey in just 25 hours round-trip from base camp. And in 19 hours, they climbed The Cobra Pillar 5.10 A1.

In 2016, Honnold climbed the Torre Traverse in Patagonia with Colin Haley in 20 hours and 40 minutes. In 2017, Honnold and Oztrurk returned to Alaska to attempt a 1,600-metre route on Mount Dickey. The Wine Bottle was first climbed in 1988 by Austrians Thomas Bonapace and Andreas Orgler at 5.11+ A3 over 51 pitches. Honnold and Oztruk were shutdown by conditions. In 2020, Honnold returned to Patagonia with Haley and completed several routes.

While he’s one of the world’s most accomplished free-soloists, Honnold hasn’t spent much time mountaineering at high elevations. After his recent trip to Vinson, he said, “Topo is a mountain guide with Alpine Glow Expeditions who’s accompanying me for a few weeks while I dabble in mountaineering and learn a bit about altitude.”

Last fall, Honnold established a roughly 60-kilometre traverse that included 14 Red Rock multi-pitch routes up to 5.11, hiking and scrambling for well over 7,000 metres of vertical in a 32-hour push. He called the traverse Honnold’s Ultimate Red Rock Traverse or HURT.

We’ve reached out to Honnold to see what he’s up to. For a list of six of his most amazing free-solos visit here.