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Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold

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Alex Honnold is an American big wall
Big wall climbing
Big wall climbing is a type of rock climbing in which a long multi-pitch route, so sustained that an ascent normally requires more than a single day, is climbed. Big wall routes require the climbing team to live on the route often using portaledges and hauling equipment...

 free solo climber
Free solo climbing
Free solo climbing, also known as free soloing, is a form of free climbing where the climber forgoes ropes, harnesses and other protective gear while ascending and relies only on his or her physical strength, climbing ability, and psychological fortitude to avoid a fatal fall...

. He has broken a number of speed records, including a free climb of Salathé Wall
Salathé Wall (El Capitan)
The Salathé Wall is one of the original technical climbing routes up El Capitan, a high granite monolith in Yosemite National Park. The Salathé Wall was named by Yvon Chouinard in honor of John Salathé, a pioneer of rock climbing in Yosemite...

, and a 5h49m aid solo ascent of the 2900 feet (883.9 m) Nose of El Capitan
The Nose (El Capitan)
The Nose is one of the original technical climbing routes up El Capitan. Once considered impossible to climb, El Capitan is now the standard for big-wall climbing...

, a route normally demanding two to four days.

Honnold was born in Sacramento, California
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

, graduating from Mira Loma High School
Mira Loma High School
Mira Loma High School is a public high school located in Sacramento, California, United States. It is the one of the most reputable and best high schools in Sacramento, consistently being ranked as one of the best schools in the area. It is a part of the San Juan Unified School District with a...

, started climbing when he was 11 years old. At the age of 19 he dropped out of UC Berkeley, where he was an engineering student, and devoted all his time to climbing. Between climbs he runs or hikes to maintain fitness. He prefers big walls and sport climbing
Sport climbing
Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock, and possibly bolts, for protection,...

, but enjoys any climb calling for extreme commitment, Yosemite
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

 being his favorite area because of its impressive walls and unbeatable weather.

Honnold found inspiration from such noted climbers as Peter Croft
Peter Croft (climber)
-External links:*...

, John Bachar
John Bachar
John Bachar was an American rock climber noted for his skill at free soloing. A fitness fanatic, he is the father of the climbing training device known as the Bachar ladder.- Biography :...

 and Tommy Caldwell
Tommy Caldwell
Tommy Caldwell is an American rock climber. He was previously married to prominent American rock climber Beth Rodden....

, but, he says, not as much as the stark simplicity and beauty of El Capitan
El Capitan
El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith extends about from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world's favorite challenges for rock climbers.The formation was...

.

At a ceremony in Salt Lake City on January 24, 2010, Honnold was awarded the "Golden Piton" for his climbing achievements.

Journalist Lara Logan
Lara Logan
Lara Logan is a South African television and radio journalist, and war correspondent. She is the chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, and a correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes.-Personal life:...

 interviewed Honnold as part of CBS 60 Minutes program airing on October 2, 2011.

In November 2011, Honnold and Hans Florine
Hans Florine
Hans Florine is an American rock climber, who together with Yuji Hirayama previously held the Speed Climb World Record for climbing The Nose of Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2:37:05; 2 hours, 37 minutes and 5 seconds set on October 12, 2008...

 missed setting the world record time on the Nose by 45 seconds with a time of 2:37.

Selected notable climbs

  • Freerider in Yosemite Valley
    Yosemite Valley
    Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

     in one day in May 2007 when he was 21 years old.
  • Salathe Wall
    Salathé Wall (El Capitan)
    The Salathé Wall is one of the original technical climbing routes up El Capitan, a high granite monolith in Yosemite National Park. The Salathé Wall was named by Yvon Chouinard in honor of John Salathé, a pioneer of rock climbing in Yosemite...

    in Yosemite Valley in October 2008.
  • Bushido and Hong Kong Phooey, in Utah
    Utah
    Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

    , between 9 and 11 March 2008.
  • Free solo of Heaven (5.12d) and Cosmic Debris (5.13b) in Yosemite National Park
    Yosemite National Park
    Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

  • Second ascent of Ambrosia ; repeat of Kevin Jorgeson's highball boulder problem Ambrosia (V11) in Bishop, California
    Bishop, California
    Bishop is a city in Inyo County, California, United States. Though Bishop is the only city and the largest populated place in Inyo County, the county seat is Independence. Bishop is located near the northern end of the Owens Valley, at an elevation of 4147 feet . The population was 3,879 at the...

    .
  • Free solo of The Phoenix, the USA's first 5.13a.
  • Free solo of Chouinard-Herbert in Yosemite National Park.
  • Free solo of Separate Reality
    Separate Reality (climbing route)
    Separate Reality is a 20 metre long climbing route in Yosemite National Park in California, USA. The famous route is well known for its exposed crux and six metre long crack in its roof through which the sky is visible. The route's access is about 200 metres above the Merced River, but is better...

    and The Crucifix in Yosemite National Park.
  • Free solo of Freeway in Squamish, British Columbia
    Squamish, British Columbia
    Squamish is a community and a district municipality in the Canadian province of British Columbia, located at the north end of Howe Sound on the Sea to Sky Highway...

    .
  • Free solo of Original Route and Prince of Darkness in Red Rocks
    Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
    Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada is an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, and protected as a National Conservation Area. It is located about west of Las Vegas, and easily seen from the Las Vegas Strip...

    , NV.
  • Free solo of Astroman and Rostrum in Yosemite Valley in one day in September 2007, becoming the second person after Peter Croft
    Peter Croft (climber)
    -External links:*...

     (1987) to do so. Dean Potter
    Dean Potter
    Dean Potter is an American free climber, alpinist, BASE jumper, BASEliner, and highliner. He is noted for hard first ascents, free solo ascents, speed ascents, and enchainments in Yosemite and Patagonia....

     made the only other known free solo of Astroman.
  • Free solo of Zion’s
    Zion National Park
    Zion National Park is located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River...

     Moonlight Buttress on 1 April 2008.
  • Free solo of the Regular Northwest Face
    Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome
    The Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome was the first Grade VI climb in the United States. It was first climbed in 1957 by a team consisting of Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick, and Jerry Gallwas. Its current rating is VI 5.9 A1 or 5.12 for the free variation...

     of Half Dome
    Half Dome
    Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located in northeastern Mariposa County, California, at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley — possibly Yosemite's most familiar rock formation. The granite crest rises more than above the valley floor....

     on 6 September 2008.
  • Repeats of Parthian Shot, New Statesman, Meshuga (solo), an onsight of Gaia (and subsequently repeated it solo), and an onsight solo of London Wall during a trip to England at the end of 2008.

External links