Behind the Scenes of Alex Honnold's Freerider Free Solo

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Alex Honnold Cosmic Debris Rock Climbing Freesolo

Honnold on his 2011 solo of Cosmic Debris (5.13b), Yosemite. Photo: Mikey Schaefer

“So stoked. I just sent the proj!” Alex Honnold said in a voicemail from El Capitan on June 3. “Hiking down the East Ledges. Thanks for the support up here this season and, you know, just in general. I’m feeling pretty stoked out of my gourd.”

That day, Honnold, 31, made the first free solo of a VI on El Capitan. At 5:32 a.m., Honnold pulled on a pair of TC Pros and began up Freerider, a 2,900-foot 5.13a on the southwest face. Honnold navigated 10 pitches of slab on Freeblast to Mammoth Terraces, where he downclimbed 190 feet to Heart Ledges. From Heart, he deviated onto an unbolted 5.10 face to avoid a 5.11c slab move. Higher, he stepped away from the standard line and entered the 200-foot 5.10d Monster Offwidth lower than normal to avoid an exposed 5.11d downclimb traverse. Honnold continued on Freerider, climbing the Huber Boulder Problem pitch, a delicate V7 slab at 1,700 feet. With nowhere to stop, Honnold linked the two 5.12b Enduro Corner pitches into the Freerider Traverse (5.12b), a 150-foot section usually broken up into three pitches with hanging belays. From Roundtable Ledge, at the end of the Freerider Traverse, Honnold climbed the last 600 feet of 5.11+ crack and offwidth in 20 minutes, topping out at 9:28 a.m. He’d been on the wall for 3:56.

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