On the Cover:
Alone on the Wall
By Alex Honnold
with David Roberts
A Book Review
Alex Honnold would disagree with me, but he is already part of a legendary group of world class, iconic climbers. He’s daring, but remarkably humble. He’s world famous, but he almost always downplays it…there is nothing fake or tabloid-y about Alex. He solves rock puzzles thousands of feet off the ground, and is equally interested in environmental issues. As one of the most articulate and well-read climbers I’ve had the chance to interview, Alex has succeeded in bringing climbing out of the mountains and onto the world stage, in front of a global audience of millions. Alone on the Wall grants us an inside look at a very distinguished climbing personality.
His incredibly well-documented ropeless ascents have become his signature style, as his youtube videos will testify. It’s not that he never uses ropes, in fact on most climbs with friends, he does. But it is his successful free soloing ascents that have garnered this Sacramento native a loyal and world-wide following.
This memoir is a refreshing look into the mind, emotions and life of a man who fully understands the intricate nature of free soloing. It also allows us to glimpse the fact he is acutely aware of how his work is perceived by the world. Would the average climber understand the inexplicable and innately freeing sensation that free soloing a thousand-plus feet, sheer rock face can deliver? Perhaps. Can the non-climber mentally and emotionally grasp the highly charged but powerfully liberating process of free soloing? Probably not. But it does leave them utterly fascinated.
Many in the non-climbing community have their own opinions about Alex’s climbs, but I would venture to say that it would take a finely honed climber’s mind to fully absorb the phenomena that is Alex’s forte: free soloing.
Armed with only climbing shoes, a chalk bag and a fierce but calm sense of focus, Alex achieves his objective: a climbing experience that is so intensely personal, so all-consuming that nothing rivals it in his world. And he does it with a curious steadiness. That steadiness and calmness may be why he prevails.
Today, Alex is not just the world’s most accomplished free-soloist but also a serious philanthropist: the Honnold Foundation’s work with under-privileged communities is something close to his heart. Co-authored by the amazing David Roberts, Alone on the Wall is a must-read. Alex has achieved an iconic status at a young age and David has brilliantly seen the genius behind this very easy-going, approachable but inwardly sensitive climber. Kudos to both men for producing a remarkable tome. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Vera H. Kaikobad