The AT50: Free Climber Alex Honnold (#13)
Sport: Rock climbing
Highlights: Speed record on Nose of El Capitan with Hans Florine; solo of Yosemite Triple Crown (Mt. Watkins, El Capitan and Half Dome) in 18 hours, 50 minutes; free-solo of Zion's Moonlight Buttress
Quote: "Anytime you finish a climb, there's always the next thing you can try."
Fact: Honnold had a high school GPA of 4.7.
AT50 Point Total: 45
Alex Honnold is the face of rock climbing today. Mention the sport to any non-climber and they’ll scratch their heads, digging for the name of that guy from '60 Minutes' who climbs soaring cliffs with no ropes.
Honnold has earned international stardom for his ability to calmly free-solo big walls—that is, to climb thousands of feet above the ground without safety equipment. In his now-famous October 2011 ’60 Minutes’ segment, he wowed the world by whistling through his free-solo of Sentinel, a nearly 3,000-foot-tall vertical face in Yosemite National Park, and describing it as ‘mellow.’
Still, that didn't prepare anybody for what he'd do in Yosemite Valley only eight months later, in June 2012. Climbing through the night with no rope, he linked up a 7,000-vertical-foot speed ascent of Yosemite's Triple Crown—big walls El Capitan, Half Dome and Mt. Watkins.
Honnold is one of only a handful of climbers in the world with the incredible mental fortitude (and, some would say, dumb luck) to free-solo the world’s most daunting rock faces. But the relative fame hasn't gone to the lanky climber’s head. He still maintains the dirtbag lifestyle, living out of his van most of the year in a constant quest to push the sport of climbing to its vertical limit at North America's legendary crags.