Category: Free Solo

January 31, 2016

Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of Adventure

Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of AdventureToward’s the end of last year Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of Adventure was released. I had pre-ordered it and read it pretty quickly since I’ve always followed Alex Honnold’s exploits. As a climber I’m amazed by solo climbers, particularly the newer generation since they seem to be getting better at staying alive. Personally, I don’t plan to become a hard core soloist as I have no interest in causing myself death or serious injury any time soon. However, I don’t mind soloing something that is within my limits. What those limits are is continually changing as I improve my grade and climbing ability.

The inside cover of the book reads

Alex Honnold is thirty years old, and perhaps the world’s best ‘free-solo’ climber, scaling impossible rock faces without ropes, pitons or support of any kind. There is a purity to Alex’s climbs that is easy to comprehend, but impossible to fathom; in the last forty years, only a handful of climbers have pushed ‘free soloing’ to the razor-edge of risk.

Half of them are dead.

From Yosemite’s famous Half Dome to the frighteningly difficult El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico, Alone on the Wall is structured around Alex’s seven most extraordinary climbing achievements so far. These are tales to make your palms sweat and your feet curl from vertigo. Together, they get to the heart of how - and why - Alex does what he does. Exciting, uplifting and truly awe-inspiring, Alone on the Wall is a book about the essential truths of risk and reward, and the ability to maintain a singular focus, even in the face of extreme danger.

I really enjoyed this book as it’s a very easy read and I like the style in which it is written where sections are personally written by Alex himself. I knew plenty about Alex’s solo climbs in Yosemite but in the book he talks about his climb of El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico which is 2,500 feet high. It’s 11 pitches graded at 7a+ or harder, here’s the clip of this amazing send

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January 20, 2016

Jules Lines solo climbs a building to get that girl

I just finished reading a book called Tears of the Dawn by Jules Lines. It’s an exquisitely written book about the adventures of Jules Lines, a well known British solo climber. One of the more interesting stories in the book is one in which he solo climbs a five story building to deliver a bunch of roses to a girl. Here’s a short excerpt:

Jules Lines British Solo ClimberThe nightclub was all push and shove, choked with people - chaos ensued as waves of people rippled to and from the bar. I don’t like nightclubs, and I never really understood why I frequently ended up in them until the early hours, explicable perhaps in part by the fact that I had a flat by the Somerset tube station, essentially party-central. This time was no different, but I was out on the town with Don Cattanach. Don was a couple of years younger than me, and a party animal. He loved it, and once he started he just didn’t stop. We arrived at ten. I was buzzing at the thought of all the Singaporean girls in petite dresses. I had fallen ‘in love’ with one such girl once. I hadn’t known her long, and it was the eve of Valentine’s Day. During the middle of the night, I had climbed five stories up her tower block with a bunch of roses in my teeth and left them on her windowsill. The conversation that followed didn’t go to plan. First of all, she was concerned that I had climbed the building; it was directly opposite the police station. If I had been caught by the police, then I would have been given a prison sentence and the cane - law and order was tough in Singapore. Moreover, she was upset at the gift of roses, and said that if I really loved her then a Louis Vuitton handbag would have been more appropriate. I always seemed to attract my polar opposites - story of my life. That was the last conversation I ever had with her.

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