I had first heard of Alex Honnold six months or so ago on the podcast circuit. His craft is free solo mountain climbing – no ropes, no assistance; you fall, you die. My attraction to pushing one’s limits drew me in, but it was his simplistic, almost nonchalant demeanor that really hooked me.
Fast forward six months, lots of notoriety and an incredible documentary that’s in theaters now, and Alex Honnold’s approach to life, risk, mastering a craft, attention to details, simplistic way of life continues to fascinate me.
This past Sunday, I had the luxury of detaching for a few hours (2 small kids doesn’t allow this often) to go see his new documentary, Free Solo, in the theatre. It chronicles his attempt to climb El Capitán, a 3000 ft. vertical rock formation in Yellowstone…free of any equipment but his shoes and chalk bag. I went solo.
I left the theatre smiling from ear to ear, grinning as hard as I could grin. I have no inkling of ever wanting to be a free solo climber. I don’t envy Alex’s lifestyle, either. I wouldn’t want his life for my life, but I reallllllly respect and admire pieces of him and his mark on the world. He’s someone who’s qualities I respect and admire: his ability to pursue his greatest of calling w/ no hesitation, his ability to focus at a level from which any deviation means near-instant death, his ability to connect w/ and inspire others, his ability to live simply, and w/ more purpose and drive than 99.9% of the population. But perhaps most of all, it’s his approach to it all that is stunning. It’s as if he’s saying, “Yep, uh huh, what’s the big deal? It’s simple math, really. You just work really, really hard, and then, you do it.”
The movie is full of intense, stress-filled scenes, and I was on the edge of my seat for most of it. I cannot wait to dive into his book, Alone on the Wall, and continue consuming his energy and zest for pushing the limits. Carve out a few hours in the coming weeks, do yourself a favor, and go watch this incredible story. Heck, maybe even go solo.