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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Honnold’
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
Alex Honnold looks startled when he opens the door to greet me. His eyes, which are wide —“like a cow’s,” he claims— shine. He’s surprised that I’m writing about him, that reps from various companies now actively recruit him, and that John Bachar and Peter Croft have phoned him. After his Astroman and Rostrum solos and his successful three-day free ascent of the Salathé, people have overwhelmed him with attention. Outlook-167 “Really, I suck,” says the 22-year-old. Watching him and Bill Ramsey do pull-ups with 40-pound weights clipped to their harnesses, I notice his red wristband says, “Michael Reardon—Life Without Limits.” A former engineering student at Berkeley, Alex lives in his not so pimped-out Ford Econoline E-150, sometimes staying curbside at Ramsey’s house in Las Vegas. His father died of a heart attack three years ago, leaving him a decent inheritance (which he mostly invested), enabling a frugal life on the road.
When I explain that people want to know more about him, he pulls the hood of his sweatshirt low, almost over his eyes. “I guess it would be cool if you wrote something,” he says, shrugging. “I could show my grandmother.” We discuss climbing an easy route in Red Rocks State Park. Tomorrow is his rest day. A cardio workout sounds good, he says.
He shows up at my campsite at 9:30 a.m., no coffee in hand. He doesn’t drink the stuff. I swallow the remnants of mine and say, “I want to solo Solar Slab” (which he will tell me later that night “is not even really rock climbing”). I seldom climb without a rope, but since I’m talking to the newest radical soloist, it only seems appropriate that we solo something together. A seven-pitch 5.6 can’t be that scary. We both think we’re in for a short day out.
On the first of the 5.3 approach pitches, as we detour around a party fully decked out with helmets, backpacks and fat rap ropes, I reconsider my suggestion. I have a love-hate relationship with soloing. Every time I go I swear I won’t do it again.
“Maybe we should simul-climb?” I propose.
“If we bring a rope,” Alex says, “then we have to bring harnesses, then gear. Before you know it we’ll have to bring a portaledge. You’re fine!” Hundreds of feet later, as I ascend the upper slabs, I look down at treetops that retreat below me like distant shrubs. I waffle on a large ledge as Alex clambers to the top of a gaping offwidth.
“You coming?” he asks, looking down, brown hair sticking out in all directions. I head up, hearing one of the French Canadians below say with surprise, “She’s going?” Alex chatters away to me and makes small talk with all the people we pass. I’m silent, wondering if I’m going to die…
Read the full article at Rock&Ice.com.