Jimmy: So, in terms of free soloing, undoubtedly the greatest free soloist that ever lived is...this kid, Alex Honnold. Pretty quiet. Grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento. He pretty much...You know, you think next generation and next generation, what are people going to do? Well, he's kind of skipped a generation and started soloing things that were unthinkable. I'm going to play a quick little video from...about Alex.
Mark: Free soloing has to be the ultimate in free climbing.
Alex: So, it's a beautiful to go out soloing.
Mark: To free solo is to go without a rope and to go without gear. To only have your rock shoes and your chalk bag and the power of the mind. It's also very profound (laughs). Reason it's probably the ultimate, is one wrong move, you fall, you die.
Alex: Okay, let me try that again.
Mark: And the person at the top of this game, and it's hard to even call this a game, is Alex Honnold. Alex Honnold is probably a perfect example is someone who's not only trained very hard, but is unbelievably gifted. He is like Michael Jordan.
Alex: I spend my whole year living in the van, traveling from one destination to another. Yeah, I would say that Yosemite probably is the center of my climbing. That all my climbing goals, all training, all kind of revolves around things that I want to do in Yosemite. This is by far my favorite place for soloing. Because the walls are so inspiring. Like, everything here's so big. That's what gets me excited about soloing stuff. One of the most memorable moments was pitch 22, of The Nose. I put my rope away and I switched to soloing. I just had a moment of...like this is surreally cool. I was like, “I can't believe I'm up here with no rope just climbing. Like, this is rad!”
Mark: You know, Alex has now done the regular route on Half Dome free solo. So for most people on this planet who are serious climbers, doing Half Dome in a day or two is considered fantastic. Alex did it in three hours without a rope.
Alex: You know, you commit. You're like, I'm doing this, here I go. But then after a couple hours of being all committed, you're like, man I'm tired. Your mind starts to get a little bit tired. So I kind of stalled out and then I started to doubt if I was doing it right or if I had the right holds. Why am I even here? You know, do I want to do this? Um.
Cameraman: Just come back if you're not feeling it.
Alex: Well, that's the thing. I am like...
Mark: That stalled him out, that paralyzed him. Then he overcame it. He didn't work that route a hundred times. He just got up, below it, looked up at it, and believed, absolutely believed it was well within his ability.
Alex: You know, it seems like in this last season I've sort of embraced the whole experience, you know, embraced the unpleasant parts too. It's kind of cool to just look around, you know, enjoy the exposure. Be like, this is why I'm here, this is awesome.