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Throwback to Alex Honnold’s Borneo Big Wall Dyno

The North Face expedition in 2009 was one of the most successful of the decade to Kinabalu

Over 10 years ago, Alex Honnold, Conrad Anker, Mark Synnott, Jimmy Chin and Kevin Thaw visited Mount Kinabalu in Borneo for some epic first ascents.

According to Renan Ozturk, getting to their new route required about 500 metres of fixed lines up a steep gully. The route shares some pitches with the British and Spanish routes, but also had a significant amount of new climbing. Ozturk said, “It would go fully free at roughly 5.13+ but the boys didn’t quite have the time and weather the tag the summit and free the remaining few pitches that didn’t go.” As is, the team graded the route VI 5.12 A2.

Read Synnott’s story about the trip here, in which he writes, “The block shifts and a basketball sized chunk comes loose, slamming into my shoulder as it rockets down toward Honnold at the belay. ‘ROCK!’ I yell. Honnold nonchalantly leans to the side, and the rock sails safely past him, then explodes into the base of the gully 200 feet below. My body is shaking with adrenaline as I inspect the damage. The rock tore through my jacket and two shirts, scraped away a bit of skin. In all my years of big wall climbing, it’s the first time I’ve actually pulled a big block onto myself, and for a brief moment I wonder if playing it safe means losing my edge. I gaze down at Honnold. We share a look, but nothing is said.” Watch Honnold’s mid-route dyno.

Borneo 2009