03 November 2018


by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 03 November 2018

I took a test once; they said I was a genius. Alex Honnold

Late yesterday afternoon a friend mentioned he was going with friends on Sunday to see a film I'd not heard about.

This morning I sat alone in a 53 seat theatre with a cold draft beer on the table before me and watched that film. Had the hour not been between breakfast and lunch I'd ordered chow. 

And had driving home not been an issue, I'd probably asked the nice waitress to bring three or four more beers (note for the last 30+ years I've not had more than two - in a day). 

I know what I watched. 

I have no idea the words, if they exist, to describe what I watched.

Conclusion: Alex Honnold is wired differently. 

He is physically fit, and tough.

He is mentally fit, and tough. 

Alex Honnold, about 18 months ago, climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

He made the climb without ropes. 

And without any gear other than a small bag of chalk on his back at the waistline.

He made the more than 3,000 feet climb, some sections sheer vertical, in 3 hours and 56 minutes.

Still digesting his mind-boggling achievement ...

Those filming were experienced climbers. They used ropes. Still they struck me as insane.

Alex Honnold made their insanity appear child's play. 

His diaries detailing the rock, problem-solving rehearsal climbs with ropes, memorization of minutia, and commitment to reach the top the essence of his way. 

His way. 

He did what no man (or woman) has done, his way. 

Will anyone attempt to copy?

Surely. Someone. Some day. 

He, nor anyone, mentioned the word courage. But technique, training, skill, and confidence emphasized over and over. It was if he deliberately took the variable of courage out of the solution set. 

Alex Honnold is a complex guy. 

He broke daunting El Capitan down into "simple" grab and hold and pull and step and hold and push and swing objectives. 

Yeah, he's a genius alright. 

And master of climbing rock; with and without ropes. 

Not often when writing do circumstances come about when there are no words. 

None remotely adequate come to mind.

Go see the documentary 'Free Solo.' 

See it in a theatre that serves beer, if possible.

Arrange transportation so you can enjoy two or three, or four, and not have to worry about climbing - behind the wheel. You know the ropes if caught; ugly, not cheap, and sometimes deadly. 

Thus another lesson from Alex Honnold; be smart, minimize risks. 

Does he drink beer? 

I don't know. But certainly not before climbing. And I'd like to think not before driving. After all, Alex Honnold is a genius. 

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