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Hermann Konovalov
Hermann Konovalov

Free Solo

Free Solo is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin[3] that profiles rock climber Alex Honnold on his quest to perform a free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in June 2017.[4][5]

Free Solo


Climber Alex Honnold has been dreaming of free-soloing the 3,000 feet (914 m) rock wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, a feat no-one has been able to perform. His choice of big wall climbing route on El Capitan is called Freerider, which is graded at 5.13a (7c+) in difficulty. No climber has ever completed a big-wall free solo at such a grade of difficulty in rock climbing history. Honnold, who has completed Freerider several times but with protection equipment, is a shy loner, who lives in his van with then-girlfriend Sanni McCandless.

On June 3, 2017, Alex begins his free solo climb of El Capitan; Sanni leaves and expresses her apprehensions. As Alex is climbing, the crew narrates his progress, and watches nervously as Alex completes The Boulder Problem; one cameraman turns away. Alex continues with his climb, and completes the free solo, and celebrates at the top with Jimmy and Sanni over a phone call.

Alex Honnold is a professional adventure rock climber whose audacious free solo ascents of America's biggest cliffs have made him one of the most recognized and followed climbers in the world. A gifted but hard-working athlete, he is known as much for his humble, self-effacing attitude as he is for the dizzyingly tall cliffs he has climbed without a rope to protect him if he falls. Honnold has been profiled by "60 Minutes" and The New York Times, been featured on the cover of National Geographic, appeared in international television commercials and starred in numerous adventure films, including the Emmy-nominated "Alone on the Wall."

Jimmy Chin is a professional climber, skier, mountaineer, 18-year member of The North Face Athlete Team and National Geographic Explorer. As the director, producer and cinematographer of the National Geographic Documentary Film FREE SOLO, which he co-directed with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Chin captured rock climber Alex Honnold's nail-biting free solo ascent of Yosemite National Park's El Capitan.

Rock climber Alex Honnold training on Freerider for the first ever rope-free climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He completed the feat on Saturday, June 3, 2017. The historic event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story.

(What Caldwell and Jorgeson did is called free climbing, which means climbers use no gear to help them move up the mountain and are attached to ropes only to catch them if they fall. Free soloing is when a climber is alone and uses no ropes or any other equipment that aids or protects him as he climbs, leaving no margin of error.)

Climbers have been speculating for years about a possible free solo of El Capitan, but there have only been two other people who have publicly said they seriously considered it. One was Michael Reardon, a free soloist who drowned in 2007 after being swept from a ledge below a sea cliff in Ireland. The other was Dean Potter, who died in a base jumping accident in Yosemite in 2015.

Follow Alex Honnold as he attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000 foot high El Capitan wall. With no ropes or safety gear, this would arguably be the greatest feat in rock climbing history.

The east face of Longs Peak (14,255'), Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. On September 3, Steph Davis free soloed Pervertical Sanctuary (IV 5.10c), which climbs the left side of the upper face, the Diamond. Earlier in the summer, Davis free soloed the Casual Route (IV 5.10-), which starts near the bottom of the Diamond and works left. For more on the Diamond, check out the profile in Issue 19, in which this photo was published. [Photo] Topher Donahue /

On September 3, Steph Davis realized her dream of free soloing Pervertical Sanctuary (IV 5.10c) on the Diamond, Longs Peak (14,255') in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. She returned on September 13 to repeat the free solo a second time, with Peter Mortimer filming.

The Diamond (profiled in Issue 19) is one of the most revered alpine walls in North America; its 900 feet of vertical and overhanging terrain allow no passage easier than the Casual Route (IV 5.10-). The face was first free soloed via this route by Charlie Fowler in 1978 (this diminution resulted in a change of its name, from the Integral Route to the Casual Route).

Davis is the the first woman to free solo the Diamond and the second person with a recorded free solo on Pervertical Sanctuary, the other being prolific free soloist Derek Hersey. Known in particular for her hard free climbs on El Capitan, Davis soloed the Casual Route twice this summer, once in July and again in August, prior to her two efforts on Pervertical.

"I'm so lucky I had the experience of a troublesome fear feeling on my first solo of the Casual Route," Davis said, "because it forced me to look hard at that feeling, and to dissect it... I realized that to do a more serious solo, I need[ed] to focus all the way on my mental state. I need[ed] to believe in myself completely."

The great free soloist Derek Hersey on Pervertical Sanctuary, as part of his 1989 triple enchainment. For more on Hersey's Diamond exploits, check out the profile in Issue 19, in which this photo was published. [Photo] Steve "Crusher" Bartlett

Positive thinking, Davis said, was important for success: "I focused completely on the positive granite, the confidence in my shoe rubber, and the freedom of climbing light, with nothing to carry. I was hoping to feel solid and safe on the finger crack crux, and reminded myself as always that I am a crack climber."

Pervertical Sanctuary was first ascended by Ron Olevsky and Bob Dodds in 1975 at a grade of 5.8 A1. In that same year, Bruce Adams and Tobin Sorenson freed the line at 5.10c. The route has since been graded as high as 5.11a.

In 1989, Hersey free soloed the Yellow Wall (V 5.11a), downclimbed the Casual Route and sped up Pervertical Sanctuary ropeless, finishing before noon. He returned in 1991 to free solo Pervertical Sanctuary once more, this time capping off his day by deferring to a downclimb of the Red Wall (IV 5.10-) when wet conditions on the Casual Route proved too risky.

So will the movie encourage more people to free solo? Probably a couple. But at the same time, did we all encourage Honnold to free solo El Cap by lavishing praise upon his previous big solos and, later, by lining up at the box office for this documentary? I think we did.

The filmmakers spent a "harrowing three years," as Vasarhelyi described it at Los Angeles Film Festival, shooting their film about climber Alex Honnold's unbelievable solo summit of Yosemite's El Capitan wall without ropes. The movie drew good crowds in its limited release (averaging more than $75,000 per screen, the year's best to date) and is now available on to stream on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and Google Play. Nat Geo's channel is also airing the movie on Sunday, March 3.

In "Free Solo," Honnold emphasized that he cared much more about free-soloing El Capitan as a personal goal than he did about filming it for the world to see. "Having people around requires a high level of preparation. I need to feel (confident)," he said.

Throughout the next few decades, climbers would continue to push the limits of free climbing, the likes of which included the Canadian Peter Croft and Lynn Hill, who made the first true free climb of El Capitan with her groundbreaking ascent of the Nose, which she would later go on to climb in a single day.

Finally, free solo climbing is technically a type of free climbing due to the fact that the climber uses only the natural features of the wall to climb. However, free solo climbers use no protective gear, and put themselves at the risk of a fatal fall if they are unable to continue the climb. Read on to find out more about free solo.

Though he may be the most well known free solo climber, Alex Honnold did not create the sport. In fact, free solo climbing has been around since free climbing started gaining traction, and some of the climbers that pioneered the sport of free climbing also made free solo ascents, such as Peter Croft.

The principal difference between free climbing and free solo is the use of protective gear. While free climbing requires the use of a rope, harness, and quickdraw and/or traditional gear or rack (or in the case of bouldering a crash pad), free solo climbing offers no protection against falls.

As you can probably infer by now, free solo presents much, much higher risks than free climbing. While free climbing, in certain cases, can result in fatal accidents, the vast majority of falls and mishaps result in little or no injury. The most common climbing injuries incurred when free climbing are sprained ankles or bumps and bruises. On the other hand, free solo climbing injuries tend to be very serious (fractured fingers/ broken bones) or even fatal.

As you can see, free climbing and free solo are actually very different activities, especially as a result of safety factors. We never endorse free solo climbing, but when people do free solo, it is most commonly on a route that is very easy for them and that they have already climbed many times.

Climbers who free solo usually either hike down back to the base via another path or rappel down from the anchor at the top with a rope. There are also cases of climbers down climbing, where they may climb back down the same or nearby wall face they got up by.

You can be free to explore with the comforts you've grown to love in this Free Solo Plus teardrop trailer! After you exert all of your energy exploring the campsite, you'll want to have a hearty meal to replenish that energy, and the two-burner cooktop and 12 volt refrigerator are going to be the most help to get that task done. You won't even have to try to start a fire in order to get dinner ready. The other feature that is going to be extremely useful is the wet bath. Now you can get cleaned up after that last hike. You can also use the Bluetooth stereo with speakers to play some fun and upbeat music as you finish out the day. 041b061a72

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