Alex Honnold’s Free Solo of El Cap (Ep.43)

Today on the podcast, we try to wrap our heads around Alex Honnold’s successful free solo this past Saturday morning of the Freerider Route on Yosemite’s El Capitan.

Alex Honnold on the Blister Podcast
Alex Honnold free soloing El Cap (photo by Jimmy Chin)

I’m joined by our climbing editor, Dave Alie, to talk about the feat, and to try to put it into perspective and historical context.

And just in case you aren’t clear about the magnitude of Honnold’s achievement, we are going to raise the question of whether Alex’s free solo of El Cap is the greatest athletic achievement ever. Because that is legitimately in play, and if you are skeptical of that, you should definitely listen to this conversation.

Dave also breaks down for us some of the more specific details of Alex’s route on the wall that you may not be familiar with, and he and I then dissect this accomplishment, try to locate it in the history of climbing, and contextualize it within the broader world of athletic achievements. Like many others out there, Dave and I are still attempting to wrap our minds around this climb, and that is one of the clear signals why this is such a monumental feat — we know it happened, and it’s still really difficult to believe.


  • What exactly did Alex Honnold just do? (2:40)
  • Difference between free solo climbing vs. free climbing vs. aid climbing vs. rope soloing (5:45)
  • Talk about the specifics of the Freerider route / Honnold’s route (11:20)
  • The *speed* of Alex’s ascent (22:25)
  • Locating Honnold’s free solo among other climbing feats (32:17)
  • Climbing and Mainstream Culture (41:30)
  • Biggest Achievement in Sport Climbing? (45:22)
  • Biggest Achievement in Bouldering? (52:55)
  • Is Honnold’s free solo the greatest athletic achievement ever? What are the contenders? (59:12)
  • Dean Potter’s take on Alex Honnold (1:11:30)
  • Zen and the Art of (Honnold’s) Free Soloing (1:12:38)

Video: Alex Honnold on Freerider — 6.3.17

Photo Gallery of the Climb (shot by Tom Evans):

Alex’s Interview Shortly After the Climb:

Tommy Caldwell on Honnold’s Free Solo of El Cap:

Why Alex Honnold’s Free Solo of El Cap Scared Me

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