Watching the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Mountain Climb Will Make You Dizzy
Last week, Alex Honnold made rock climbing history by scaling the granite rock face of El Capitan with his bare hands. Free-climbing is clearly a perilous activity, but Honnold's feat takes the sport into new territory: No one had ever summited El Capitan -- a nearly vertical cliff rising 3,000 feet into the sky above Yosemite National Park -- without the aid of safety gear. Honnold accomplished this with aplomb, reaching the peak in under four hours.
Now, National Geographic has posted footage of the climber's daring ascent, and it's sure to give you vertigo.
On the cliff, between the blue sky and the ground below, there's a whole lot of silence. The wind whistles around him. You hear the shuffle of his feet as he negotiates each pivotal step. It's a dramatic and mind-numbing scene: the landscape beneath El Capitan looks like a bunch of legos or an oil panting, reduced to amorphous globs of color and light. Honnold's body is rendered minuscule next to the towering mass of rock. It's enough to induce heart palpitations just by watching the footage.
Understandably, Honnold's accomplishment has been lauded by virtually everyone in the climbing world. Tommy Caldwell, a legendary climber and El Capitan record-holder, told National Geographic that Honnold's achievement is "the moon landing of free-soloing." Gripped magazine praised it as "by far the most groundbreaking" spectacle ever witnessed in the sport, and it isn't hard to see why.
"I was probably the happiest I've ever been. It's something that I thought about for so long and dreamed about and worked so hard for. I mean, it's pretty satisfying," Honnold told the Associated Press after his improbable feat.
While the climber enjoys a much deserved celebration, the rest of us are just trying to scrape our jaws off the floor.