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Ondra Comments on Honnold’s El Cap Free-Solo

Adam Ondra is one of the world’s top climbers and said that free-soloing Freerider 5.12d on El Cap in Yosemite is more difficult than soloing 5.14d. Below are Ondra’s notes on the historic ascent.

“It was clear to me that Freerider was his main goal,” said Ondra on Facebook. “I was asking him about it but he was mysterious about it as the dark side of the moon.

“‘I have a kind of project,’ he told me. In November, he bailed it – I think I saw him that day, he had some fixed ropes there. I’ve heard that on Saturday, he had no ropes there (in order to cross out the possibility to escape from the route) – the hardest pitch was filmed from fixed cameras with no cameramen who could influence him.

“It’s definitely the biggest thing that ever happened in the world of free-solo climbing, it’s simply unbelievable. We can only discuss whether the free-solo climbing is good or not, whether we should write about it or not. Anyway, it takes tremendous amount of courage to free-solo Freerider. From my point of view, it is easier to solo a 9a [5.14d] sport route than this one.

@alexhonnold composed and casual free soloing (sans cord) 2000ft above the deck on the Enduro Pitch of Freerider yesterday. Alex's process to prepare for his dream of free soloing El Cap has been an incredible, and sometimes stressful, journey to witness and be a part of over the last two years while filming him for a feature documentary (co-directed by @mochinyc). In some ways I expected (and prayed for) nothing less on his big day but it was still mind bending to see how relaxed he was in the final days leading up to the climb and of course during the climb – as seen here locked off reaching full extension with mere finger tips in contact to granite, feet smeared on nothing. What I've learned over the last 10 years about Alex is he isn't the kid that shows up to do well on the exam. If it counts, he's there to ace it, knock out the extra credit questions and finish early. I'd say he aced his final exam yesterday with extra credit for style and composure. When he got to the top, he looked at me and said "I'm pretty sure I could go back to the bottom and do it again right now." Congrats bud. You crushed. It was historic, it was brilliant, it was moving beyond words. Thanks to all of Alex's climbing partners who supported along the way and especially to one helluva film crew for staying committed through thick and thin doing some of the best work I've ever seen. So so proud of everyone. See the @natgeo link in my bio for more.

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“Offwidths are no problem for Alex – that’s like taking a stroll for him. But the 7a [5.11d] slabs down there are said to be really awkward, then the Enduro corner – I can imagine how awfully slippery it is. Moreover, free-soloing is way more difficult – you skip the belaying points and thus around Enduro corner you climb four pitches that have around 100 metres altogether and the difficulty gets to 8a [5.13].

“I thought that he will wait until autumn. I haven’t expected him to climb the route in June. But it kind of makes sense because he doesn’t like cold weather – he prefers warm temperatures. The individual moves in the route are not so difficult so you can stop from time to time and chalk up. But you really need dry conditions. When it’s too cold it tends to be slippery, and you really don’t want your feet to slip during free-soloing.”