Alex Honnold

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Alexander J. Honnold
Alex Honnold - Trento Film Festival 2014.JPG
Alex Honnold at the Trento Film Festival (2014)
Personal information
Born (1985-08-17) August 17, 1985 (age 33)
Education UC Berkeley (dropped out)
Occupation Professional rock climber
Climbing career
Type of climber
Highest grade
Known for

First and only to free solo El Capitan
Big Wall Free Soloing

Speed record holder on The Nose of El Capitan

Alex J. Honnold (born August 17, 1985) is an American rock climber best known for his free solo ascents of big walls.

He is the only person to have free-soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and holds the fastest ascent of the Yosemite triple crown, an 18-hour 50 minute link up of Mount Watkins, The Nose, and the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome.[1] Honnold says that he likes tall, long routes and that he tries to do them quickly.[2] He is the author of Alone on the Wall, a collaboration with David Roberts that details his climbing exploits.

Early life[edit]

Honnold was born in Sacramento, California and started climbing indoors when he was 11 years old. Upon graduating from the Mira Loma High School with a 4.7 GPA,[3] he matriculated to the University of California Berkeley to study engineering. However, at the age of 19, he dropped out of school and has since devoted all his time to climbing.


Honnold prefers big walls and sport climbing, but enjoys any climb calling for extreme commitment. Yosemite is his favorite area because of its impressive walls and favorable weather.[4][5] Between climbs, he runs or hikes to maintain fitness.[4] Honnold reports that he is inspired by such noted climbers as Peter Croft, John Bachar and Tommy Caldwell, and even more so by the stark simplicity and beauty of El Capitan.[4]

He gained mainstream exposure after his solo of The Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome in the film Alone on the wall[6] and subsequent 60 minutes interview.[5][7] In November 2011, Honnold and Hans Florine missed setting the record time on the Nose route on Yosemite's El Capitan by 45 seconds with a time of 2:37.[8] On June 17, 2012, the two set a new record of 2:23:51 on that same route.[9] He made the first free solo ascent of El Capitan on June 3, 2017, completing the 2,900 ft Freerider route in 3 hours 56 minutes.[10] His June 3, 2017 free solo ascent of El Capitan was documented by climber and photographer Jimmy Chin and was featured in the documentary film Free Solo.[11] On June 6, 2018 Honnold teamed up with Tommy Caldwell to break the speed record for The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite. They completed the ~3,000ft route in 1:58:07 becoming the first climbers to complete the route in under 2 hrs.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 2017, Alex bought a home in the Las Vegas area.[13] He previously lived out of his 2002 Ford Econoline E150 van allowing him to focus on climbing and follow the weather.[14] He is an avid reader, with interests in classic literature, environmentalism, and economics and describes himself as an atheist.[15] In 2012 he started the Honnold Foundation which "seeks simple, sustainable ways to improve lives world-wide".[16]


In 2010, Honnold was awarded the "Golden Piton" for his climbing achievements.[17][13]

In 2018, The American Alpine Club awarded Honnold the Robert and Miriam Underhill award for excellence in various fields of climbing.[18]

In July 2018, Alex Honnold was awarded the "Special mention of Piolets d'Or" for his outstanding contribution to climbing in the year 2017.[19]

Selected notable climbs[edit]

Big Wall[edit]

  • Yosemite
    • Freerider: first free solo ascent on El Capitan on June 3, 2017. Time: 3 hours, 56 minutes[20][21]
    • The Nose of El Capitan: Former speed record with Hans Florine on June 17, 2012.[22] Time: 2:23:51[9]
    • The Nose of El Capitan: Former speed record with Tommy Caldwell on May 30, 2018. Time: 2:10:15
    • The Nose of El Capitan: Former speed record with Tommy Caldwell on June 4, 2018.[23] Time: 2:01:50
    • The Nose of El Capitan: Current speed record with Tommy Caldwell on June 6, 2018.[24] Time: 1:58:07
    • Solo of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome in 1 hour, 22 minutes. May 2012.[25]
    • Freerider in Yosemite Valley in one day in May 2007 when he was 21 years old.[26]
    • Solo of Yosemite Triple CrownMt. Watkins, El Capitan, and Half Dome – in 18 hours, 50 minutes ; free soloing 90% of the link-up.[25]
    • Free solo of Astroman and Rostrum in Yosemite Valley in one day in September 2007, becoming the second person after Peter Croft (1987) to do so.[27]
    • Free solo of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome on 6 September 2008.[28]
  • Utah
    • Free solo of Zion's Moonlight Buttress on 1 April 2008.[29]
    • Bushido and Hong Kong Phooey, in Utah, between 9 and 11 March 2008.[30]
  • El Potrero Chico
    • Free-soloed the Grade V big-wall route El Sendero Luminoso (5.12d) in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. The climb rises 1,750 feet up the limestone face of El Toro (The Bull), and sports 15 pitches—11 of which are rated 5.12. Honnold climbed the route in a mere three hours.[31]
  • Squamish
    • Free solo of Squamish's University Wall. He is the first person to completely free solo this wall.[32]
  • United Kingdom


Single Pitch[edit]

  • Sport
    • The Green Mile: 8c+(5.14c). Alex Honnold's most difficult sport climb on a rope at the Jailhouse crag near San Francisco.[33]
  • Solo
    • Free solo of Heaven (5.12d) and Cosmic Debris (5.13b) in 2014 in Yosemite National Park[36]
    • Free solo of The Phoenix, the USA's first 5.13a.[37]
    • Repeats of Parthian Shot, New Statesman, Meshuga (solo), an on-sight of Gaia (and subsequently repeated it solo), and an on-sight solo of London Wall during a trip to England at the end of 2008.[38]
    • First ascents of The Rainbow Arch (5.12+, top-roped) and multiple small towers (free solo) in the Ennedi Desert, Chad, in 2010.[39][40]



  1. ^ "Honnold's Biggest, Baddest Solo Yet". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  2. ^ "Alex Honnold". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ "JRE #319 – Alex Honnold, Brian Redban". Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Alex Honnold – Athlete profile". 2011. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "The ascent of Alex Honnold". 27 December 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold". 
  7. ^ "Climbing without ropes: A series of remarkable feats increases the appeal of a niche sport". The Economist. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "El Capitan record attempt likey (sic) has to wait". Archived from the original on January 3, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "New Nose Record – 2:23:51 (Florine and Honnold)". Mountain Project. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  10. ^ McCarthy, Tom (4 June 2017). "Rock climber makes historic ropeless ascent of California's El Capitan". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2017. 
  11. ^ "Exclusive: Climber Completes the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Ascent Ever". 2017-06-03. Retrieved 2017-10-22. 
  12. ^ "Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell Set Sub-2-Hour Nose Speed Record". Climbing Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-17. 
  13. ^ a b "To Be the Best Rock Climber Is to Earn As Much As an Orthodontist | Wealthsimple". Magazine. Retrieved 2018-04-02. 
  14. ^ "Video:". 
  15. ^ [1] Archived January 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "About — Honnold Foundation". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  17. ^ "2010 Golden Piton Awards". Climbing. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  18. ^ "ABD Awards". The American Alpine Club. 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  19. ^ "Piolets d'Or Press Release July 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 28 August 2018. 
  20. ^ "Exclusive: Climber Completes the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Ascent Ever". 3 June 2017. 
  21. ^ Mcphate, Mike (2017-06-06). "California Today: An 'Incomprehensible' Climb in Yosemite". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-06. 
  22. ^ Mary Anne Potts. "Climbers Alex Honnold and Hans Florine Claim Speed Record on the Nose, El Cap – Interview". Beyond the Edge. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  23. ^ Owen Clarke. "Honnold and Caldwell Break Nose Record (Again!), Blaze Up in 2:01:50!". Retrieved June 4, 2018. 
  24. ^ {{cite web|url=
  25. ^ a b Bacon, Sean (6 June 2012). "Honnold's Biggest, Baddest Solo Yet". Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  26. ^ Luke Bauer (2007-10-30). "Honnold'S Yosemite Year: A Free-Climbing Extravaganza". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  27. ^ "Alex Honnold free solos two big wall classics in a day | Rock Climbing Articles". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  28. ^ Erik Lambert (2008-09-09). "Updated: Honnold Free Solos Half Dome 5.12". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  29. ^ [2] Archived November 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ "Honnold Rapid-Fires Two Desert-Crack Testpieces". Archived from the original on October 18, 2008. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  31. ^ Parker, Chris (16 January 2014). "Honnold Free-Solos the 1,750-Foot El Sendero Luminoso (5.12d)". Rock and Ice. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  32. ^ "Honnold Free Solos Squamish's University Wall". Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  33. ^ a b "GLOBAL". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  34. ^ "Alex Honnold Gets the 2nd Ascent of Ambrosia. - Rock Climbing & Bouldering Articles". 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  35. ^ "Alex Honnold: Too Big to Flail". Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  36. ^ "More Solos In Yosemite By Alex Honnold – Updated | Climbing Narcissist". 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  37. ^ [3] Archived June 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ "Alex Honnold climbing interview –, climbing, News, mountaineering". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  39. ^ Gwen Cameron (2011-07-20). "Chad's Ennedi Dessert: A Google Earth Adventure". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  40. ^ "2010 – Ennedi Desert, Chad Climbing Expedition". 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  41. ^ "Borneo Big Wall". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  42. ^ Roy, Adam (2009-06-19). "First ascent attempt of a massive big wall in Borneo". Matador Network. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  43. ^ "The mother of all traverses: The Fitz Traverse. :: SuperTopo Rock Climbing Discussion Topic". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  44. ^ MacDonald, Dougal. "Torre Traverse in Under 21 Hours". Climbing Magazine. 2 February 2016. Retrieved on 22 June 2018.

Notable videos[edit]

External links[edit]