Alone On The Wall
by David Roberts + Alex Honnold
Alex Honnold is a climbing celebrity, and for a reason. He’s just that damn good. In Alone On The Wall, Alex recounts what was going through his mind on climbs, in his van, and in regards to the media. If you’re a climber or if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, I’d recommend you start reading. The book is half Alex’s account, and half David Roberts providing context. And thank god because either of the two independently would have been awfully boring. Alex and David write in beautiful symbiosis -- kudos to the editor (I think also David).
If you’re picking this book up as a non-climber it might be hard to grasp the nuances of why Alex deserves the praise bestowed upon him. It’s essentially not just what he climbs (impressive to the general public), but how he climbs (impressive to other climbers). And the book is pretty thick with gear vocabulary and climbing jargon too. David does a pretty great job of parsing it out, but even though I’ve been sport climbing for just over a year (and recently claimed that my local climbing gym is my favorite place in all of Portland), I found myself turning to Google for translations and images.
And as a climber, Honnold has a way of making even the most skilled of us look like amateurs. Because really, when were you planning on free soloing Yosemite’s Half Dome? Alex is the man for it.
I didn’t read Alex to be pompous about any of it though, as other media outlets would have suggested. When you’re that good, the bar you set for yourself and the standards for your own success are pretty skewed from the average human. The group of folks who can identify with Alex’s sport and skill make up a very, very small club.
Which is what makes it so fun to read.
* Free Soloing = climbing without any ropes or a harness. Just you, the rock, and gravity. And by the way, the section of Half Dome Alex free soloed was over 2,000 ft. high.