American rock climber Alex Honnold has had an incredibly good (and miraculously lucky) start to 2014. He managed to climb El Sendero Luminoso, a 1,500 foot wall, without the use of any safety gear.
Alex is being dubbed a ‘real-life Spiderman’, but I wouldn’t agree with that moniker because even Spiderman spun a web and used it to swing across walls. But Alex uses just his bare hands and fingers to climb.
He recently ascended a 1,500 foot limestone big-wall route called El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico. While most parties generally take two days to complete the climb, Alex completed it in just three hours, by clinging to tiny crevices all the way up. “I would stop at the occasional good foothold and shake it out, but for the most part I kept a very steady pace,” he said.
Photo: Renan Ozturk / Camp 4 Collective Collection
A week in advance, Alex took the help of fellow climber and North Face team member Cedar Wright to clean and prepare the route. Together, they also pioneered the final thousand feet of terrain to the true summit.
“I climbed the route four times with Alex, and each time I was struck by how complex and tenuous the climbing is,” said Wright. “There are hundreds of hand and foot moves to remember, and at times it’s just a few millimeters of your fingers and toes that are keeping you connected to the wall. Mostly I just tried not to think about him soloing the route while I was up there because it was so terrifying.”
Photo: Cedar Wright
But Alex seems completely unfazed. “It felt pretty straight-forward,” he said. “Once I started up, I was like this is awesome. I didn’t blow a single foot – like a ballerina.”
Alex’s achievement was featured in Camp 4 Collective, a North Face magazine. According to Wright, “Alex will downplay the achievement, but I can assure you this is one of the most cutting-edge big-wall solos of all time”.
Photo: Cedar Wright
What do you think of Alex’s complete lack of regard for safety equipment: daredevil or plain crazy?