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It goes, boys!

To quote my friend LH with regard to something she did a while back. Honnold solos El Cap.

Not exactly a surprise, as most everyone expected that it would be done, and he’d be the one to do it, but still, a welcome surprise.

Well done, sir!

What is also not surprising is the pearl-clutching amongst non-climbers that goes on regarding free-soloing.

What is surprising is to read the same sort of bullshit amongst climbers.

Amongst all the climbers I spoke to, all of whom were actually out climbing and not arm-chair soloing posting comments to a website, the regard was universal.

To address some of the pearls being clutched:

  • 14-year-old-boys (always boys) will be overwhelmingly tempted to imitate this death-defying feat.: And we’ll have to deal with Yet Another spike in the falling deaths of adolescent boys the same as when Honnold free-soloed Half-Dome, and when he free-soloed Sendero, and when he free-soloed El Cap, Half-Dome and Watkins in a day. Also when Auer free-soloed The Fish, and Potter free-soloed the Eiger, and Croft soloed Astroman and The Rostrum, and Heinz Zak soled Separate Reality.

    Oh wait. That didn’t happen.

    As it turns out, fear of falling to one’s painful death is one of those fundamental human instincts that even 14-year-old-boys have.

    14-year-old-boys do seem to be remarkably susceptible to influences such as sitting around eating Doritos and playing video games until they die of heart disease but for some reason this is a more acceptable influence from the fat-fucks posting such comments.

    Honnold’s father died at 55 running to catch a plane. Somehow this is an acceptable mode of mortality but doing something you love is not.

  • SAR will have to come clean up the mess some day mark my words.
    Won’t someone think of the poor first responders?
    : No one makes anyone join SAR. SAR is completely voluntary. If they don’t want to be out scraping up the brains of all the free-soloists, they shouldn’t volunteer.

    Don’t be detered by the fact that most of their time and money is spent rescuing or recovering people without basic reading or reasoning skills, who ignore signs that say “Danger! Don’t swim in the stream above the 500′ waterfall!” in six languages.

    No one ever seems to consider the feelings of the first responders who have to come pick up the 600 lb decomps who died with a bag of Doritos and a video game controller in their bedroom when the neighbors complain about the smell.

  • It’s selfish! He should think of his mother, his family, etc.: Human mortality, Peter Thiel literally drinking the blood of adolescents aside [1] remains at 100%. Everything is selfish.

Reasonable people consider projects like these idiotic to the point of outrage. That is perfectly defensible. Honnold doesn’t have children, but he does have a mother who loves him very much. If you count yourself among those inclined to negative judgment, and even if you don’t, I hope you’ll indulge a mental exercise for fun. Allow your mind to relax into the possibility that Honnold’s climb was not reckless at all — that he really was born with unique neural architecture and physical gifts, and that his years of dedication really did develop those gifts to the point that he could not only make every move on El Capitan without rest, he could do so with a tolerably minuscule chance of falling. Viewed in that light, Honnold’s free-solo of El Capitan represents a miraculous opportunity for the rest of us to experience what you might call the human sublime — a performance so far beyond our current understanding of our physical and mental potential that it provokes a pleasurable sensation of mystified awe right alongside the inevitable nausea.

Daniel Duane


[1] That’s what all the pearl-clutchers worried about the 14-year-old-boys (and girls) should be worried about.