Climber scales El Capitan without a rope

Understandably, Honnold's accomplishment has been lauded by virtually everyone in the climbing world.

The 31-year-old North Face brand ambassador, whose feat was captured exclusively by National Geographic, began his ascent just after 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning "dressed in his favorite red t-shirt and cutoff nylon trousers, and [after eating] his standard breakfast of oats, flax, chia seeds and blueberries", according to the publication.

"This is the "moon landing" of free soloing", Tommy Caldwell, who scaled the Dawn Wall, El Capitan's most hard climb, with just ropes and other equipment for safety, told National Geographic. The historic event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story.

"Free solo" is climber-speak for no ropes, no safety gear. Even if you're very fearless, Alex Honnold does more than you.

"So stoked to realize a life dream today", Honnold wrote on Facebook on Saturday. In November, Honnold made his first free-solo run at the granite behemoth, but quit after less than an hour because he said conditions did not feel right.

It was his second attempt to crack El Capitan.

A lighter moment came later, Honnold said, when he passed some climbers who had spent the night on a ledge.

What do you do when looking for a thrill on a Saturday? "And then this a year ago, I thought that I could do it".

Read the full interview about Honnold's mental processing over at NPR. It's a sport where, no matter your skill level, you're constantly challenged and pushing and discovering your limits.

The crux of one pitch, he said, is "like this no-hands, foot traverse thing, where you're just like, shuffling across a blank wall".

Honnold added, "That's before the [main] wall even starts".

  • Julie Sanders