This Saturday, June 3, 2017, photo provided by National Geographic shows Alex Honnold atop El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Calif., after he became the first person to climb alone to the top of the massive granite wall without ropes or safety gear. National Geographic recorded Honnold’s historic ascent, saying the 31-year-old completed the “free solo” climb Saturday in nearly four hours. The event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story. (Jimmy Chin/National Geographic via AP)

Solo climber is 1st up Yosemite’s El Capitan without ropes

  • Jun. 5, 2017 4:30 p.m.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — An elite rock climber became the first to climb alone to the top of the massive granite wall known as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without using ropes or safety gear.

Alex Honnold completed the “free solo” climb Saturday in nearly four hours, according to National Geographic, which documented the historic ascent. A photo posted on the magazine’s website shows the grinning 31-year-old wearing just a pair of black pants after reaching the summit.

Honnold, who grew up in Sacramento and now lives in Las Vegas, said he’s been dreaming about the feat for at least eight years.

“Each year I’d come (to Yosemite) and look up at the wall,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle in a telephone interview. “And I’d think, ‘Oh my God, how can I do it?’”

He said he started rehearsing the route, climbing it with partners and a rope, and occasionally hiking up to the summit to propel himself down.

Observers said his climb has pushed the limits in a sport that requires a high level of athleticism, risk-taking and mental focus.

“This has never been done before … and it’s hard to imagine anybody ever coming close to what he’s done,” said Daniel Duane, author of “El Capitan: Historic Feats and Radical Routes.” ”He is totally alone at the top of his game.”

The climb up 3,000-foot (914-meter) El Capitan used to take days to complete with the aid of ropes, safety gear and a partner.

In the past few decades, speed climbers working in tandem and using ropes have set records in reaching the top of the steep cliff.

In January 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson became the first to “free climb” the Dawn Wall — a particularly steep route to the top of El Capitan — by grabbing just the rock and using ropes only to catch them if they fell. They did it in 19 days.

Honnold is first to climb the iconic rock alone without protection in mere hours.

“To climb without ropes where the slightest slip is literally fatal in that arena requires enormous self-control and focus,” Duane said. “It requires this intense cognitive effort to keep fear at bay and focus on the task in front of you.”

He said Honnold has a rare ability to control fear and his body for a long period of time.

“He’s shown awesome grace under pressure,” said Hans Florine, a fellow climber who with Honnold holds the speed record for climbing the Nose route of El Capitan in about two hours and 23 minutes.

Just Posted

Notley pleads with political foes, allies to support Alberta pipeline projects

OTTAWA — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley issued warnings to all political parties… Continue reading

Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

OTTAWA — The federal government will unveil its highly anticipated national housing… Continue reading

Accused murderer takes stand

Jason Klaus said he had no idea his family would be killed by Joshua Frank

St. Patrick’s school modernization could include asbestos removal

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools have told staff, students and parents connected… Continue reading

Campaign renews push to make Bighorn Backcountry a wildland provincial park, ATV groups unhappy

A push to provide provincial protection for the Bighorn Backcountry area has… Continue reading

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

Creationist will speak at home-schooling convention in Red Deer

Ken Ham has debated Bill Nye on the Earth’s origins

Update: Innisfail girl found

A 15-year-old missing Innisfail girl has been located safe and sound. Police… Continue reading

Cost to fix Phoenix pay system to surpass $540 million, auditor general says

The federal government’s chronic salary struggles will take more time and more… Continue reading

Red Deer Christmas Bureau to help 1,300 children this year

Demand is high, but Red Deer always provides

CP Holiday train makes stops in Central Alberta

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month