This Climber Scaled Yosemite's El Capitan—Without Ropes

If you were setting out to climb a 3,000-foot granite wall, what might you pack? Ropes? A helmet? The hover boots Spock wears in "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier"?

If you're 31-year-old Alex Honnold, your checklist looks like this: a lucky red shirt and a bag of chalk. That's all, folks. In June 2017, Honnold scaled Yosemite's 3,000-foot El Capitan in just under four hours, becoming the first free-solo climber ever to do so. Without any rope or safety gear. We'll let that sink in...

A Record-Breaking Ascent

Imagine staring up that enormous stone wall and planning to make your way up. Aside from that bag of chalk for your sweaty palms, you'd have nothing to help you. As Honnold told NPR, one of his biggest challenges was simply sitting at the base of the "f****** big wall" and putting on his climbing shoes. Like many things, it's the anticipation that'll get ya.

Honnold has been climbing his whole life, and he's well-known in the climbing world. Before El Capitan, he had already conquered Yosemite's Half Dome and Zion National Park's Moonlight Buttress. But, as Gripped reports, this feat "is by far the most groundbreaking." Eight years before the attempt, Honnold called his shot, writing about his plan in his journal. After training for more than a year and landing a National Geographic documentary to boot, Honnold free-soloed to the top of El Capitan. As the first person to do it, his name will forever be the answer to a trivia question.

Don't Try This At Home

What's it like to scale a 3,000-foot monolith? As Honnold describes to NPR, the El Capitan free climb was "basically like walking on a sheet of glass" and "shuffling across a blank wall." Sounds terrifying, right? Before Honnold climbs, he asks himself whether or not it's worth the risk. Now on the other side of the danger, he says the risk was definitely worth the reward.

What did Honnold's mom have to say? Well, she was glad he hadn't told her anything until after his successful ascent.

And if you want to know why Captain Kirk tried free-climbing El Capitan in "Star Trek V," you need to watch this.

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Written by Curiosity Staff June 28, 2017

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