Honnold’s Free-Solos You Don’t Know About
Dozens of 5.12 pitches in a day without a rope, plus hear about how he copes with foot pain
Alex Honnold is likely the world’s greatest free-solo climber of all time. While there are several well-known free-solos that he’s accomplished, there are many more that have gone unreported. In the video below, Honnold talks about his mega free-solo link-up of Moonlight Buttress 5.12, Monkey Finger 5.12 and Shunes Buttress 5.11+ in a day, in snow. And more recently he free-soloed a 30-pitch 5.12 link-up in Red Rocks.
Some of Honnold’s more popular free-solos are as follows. In 2008, Alex Honnold free-soloed Moonlight Buttress in Zion, a popular nine-pitch 5.12+. “The grade doesn’t reflect the difficulty because it’s pure endurance 5.12c,” said Honnold. That same year, he made the first free-solo of the 22-pitch Regular Northwest Face 5.12 on Half Dome in Yosemite. Four years later, after repeating the solo a number of times, he did it in one hour and 22 minutes. “Hey, we’ve all gotta die sometime. You might as well go big,” said Honnold.
In 2014, he made the first free-solo of El Sendero Luminoso, a 15-pitch 5.12d on El Toro in Mexico in three hours. That same year, he made the first free-solo of Squamish’s University Wall to the top of The Chief via the Roman Chimneys in two hours car to car. University Wall has a series of difficult 5.12 friction moves and both routes together adds up to 12 long pitches. “It’s always represented that burly crack climbing style to me. It’s like the hard-man version of Astroman,” said Honnold.
On May 3, 2017, Honnold became the first climber to free-solo El Capitan via the 30-pitch 5.12d called Freerider that was established in the 1990s by the Huber brothers. His solo took only three hours and 56 minutes. Hear about his unknown free-solos below.