If you are into climbing, then you probably heard some unbelievable news about Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. It was the logical next step for him if you think about it. He started with a bunch of solos on smaller features in Yosemite, The Sierra’s, and other iconic places around the world. Then he upped his sport climbing and bouldering skills by climbing many 5.14’s and many hard and heady boulder problems. Why did he do all this work, well of course to solo El Cap via the easiest route up the monolith, Freerider.
Alex has now (if he hadn’t already) made the jump from climber to pop culture icon with his ascent. What comes with this ascent? I am sure that he will use it to secure financial security for himself and his family. But what else? His foundation will certainly be able to help more people and make a positive impact on the world? He will inspire many to pursue their dreams no matter how bold, improbable or impossible that they may seem. I am sure that he And along the way I am sure that he will sneak his way into more pop culture via print/video/podcasts too.
My hope is that we don’t loose the Alex Honnold that lives in his car and travels around doing what he loves. I hope we don’t loose the kind and thoughtful person who just loves to get out and just rock climb. I hope that he doesn’t get consumed by the extreme fame that will now be forced upon him whether he likes it or not.
I can say that I knew him before he was famous. Before he had sponsors and before every one of his trips is turned into a video from whatever filmmaker was following him at the time. I know that he is intelligent and understands the world around him, but a little part of me worries that his new found super fame will dull his wits and change his pace.
His achievements are unparalleled and he is a good guy. After all of this, I hope that we remember him for who he was and not for his athleticism.