Living on the Edge
The person sitting on that ledge is Alex Honnold. He’s been proclaimed the best free soloist (i.e., climbs without ropes) in the world. The startling image above (posted to Reddit and tracked down to photographer Tim Kemple) shows Mr. Honnold midway up Half Dome, an incredibly challenging granite dome in Yosemite National Park 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.
For us mere mortals this appears as absolute insanity. How can someone climb such incredibly difficult faces without a rope? If you’re still intrigued, I highly recommend the 15-minute special 60 minutes did with Alex. You can watch it on YouTube here (embedding for video has been disabled).
Below you can find a selection of his notable climbs, which is available from his Wikipedia page:
– Speed record on Nose of El Capitan with Hans Florine. Time: 2:23:51
– Freerider in Yosemite Valley in one day in May 2007 when he was 21 years old.
– Bushido and Hong Kong Phooey, in Utah, between 9 and 11 March 2008.
– Free solo of Yosemite Triple Crown — Mt. Watkins, El Capitan, and Half Dome – in 18 hours, 50 minutes ; free climbing 90% of the link-up.
– Free solo of Heaven (5.12d) and Cosmic Debris (5.13b) in Yosemite National Park
– Second ascent of Ambrosia; repeat of Kevin Jorgeson’s highball boulder problem Ambrosia (V11) in Bishop, California.
– Free solo of The Phoenix, the USA’s first 5.13a.
– 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.
– Free solo of Zion’s Moonlight Buttress on 1 April 2008.
– Free solo of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome on 6 September 2008.
– Free solo of Half Dome in 1 hour, 22 minutes. May 2012.
– 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.