Alex Honnold's death-defying ropeless cliff climbs

He admires me for much, but my sport of kayaking is not his thing. His current idols are Dawn Wall climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, who did it spectacularly, and safely.

the risk is 100% on himself and nobody else.

“He died doing what he loved.” —everyone, including his close friends
“Every day hurts. We miss him dearly.” —his close friends


Total nonsense. Loads of people spend their lives soloing. There are of course deaths and some notable soloists have died, but there are thousands of people doing this worldwide.

I’m not too hot on the Yosemite grade system but Heaven is a 5.13b which seems to be a UK E7 6c. 6c is not that technically difficult - plenty of people have the skill and strength required to do it. I recently got back into climbing after a hiatus of about 12 years and can climb 6a again already. The E7 bit is the exposure to risk - that is, the higher the grade, the fewer opportunities to use protection and the more likely a fall is to be dangerous. E7 is a grade where opportunities to place secure gear will be uncommon and as a result long run-outs are likely - so falling even when roped can be deadly. Under the circumstances, soloing might be the safer option - no carrying heavy gear, no rope getting all up in your business and not hanging around tiring yourself out trying to get cams or nuts to stay put. Also, my experience was that soloing focuses the body and the mind - when you’re experienced - so you climb better and more surely.

If this guy can climb 8a or so roped, then he’d walk this. As he does in the video.

Disclosure - I climb roped and never soloed at my peak leading grade - I soloed 5b or c max. Climbers, know your limits!

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That quote is about mushroom collectors.

Different rocks erode differently. What you describe is a risk on some sedimentaries in certain climates. Other stones wear away evenly, still others polish to a rounded glassy surface on popular routes.

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Thing is, arrogance keeps you alive same as it keeps a fighter pilot or a race driver alive.

But don’t pretend it isn’t arrogance. We all have to deal with the stink of it. So at least own it.

What are you talking about? Have you watched Days of Thunder one too many times?


You need that authority behind you. If you doubted for a second…

My citation: from a family of Navy pilots.

It has actually been applied to many endeavors where some practitioners think that unnecessary risks are needed to enjoy the endeavor. Pilots and non-fungi foragers and swordsmen and others.

Tim Egan had a fantastic editorial on how the quote applies to mountaineers.

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By total nonsense, I was referring to the claim ‘Everyone who does this dies [as a result being implicit]’. I was calling it ‘total nonsense’ because it isn’t even close to true, in terms of, you know, actually representing rates of injury or death. Team sports like football, soccer, rubgby, basketball or lacrosse (especially lacrosse) are by and large far riskier than outdoor sports, with the exception of BASE jumping and I reckon wingsuiting.

My citation: I’m from a family of rock climbers.

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I’ve never heard of mushroom foragers actively seeking out mushrooms of dubious provenance to ‘feel the buzz’ of a nibble of uncertain outcome.

I’m interested to hear more about your swordsmen though. Outside of sporting fencing or formalised Mensur, I’d have thought that fighting with sharp weapons involved inherent risks. I know that re-enactors and SCA types sneer at LARPers for using rubber swords. LARPers tend to sustain less critical battlefield injuries, too (although my experience of LARP is that it’s vastly more dangerous than rock climbing). But I wouldn’t call a re-enactor or SCA type irresponsible for choosing to get into a more dangerous form of essentially the same activity.

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Helmets are a major point of contention in cycling - basically because it is disputed whether they offer protection in most accidents, and it is possible that wearing a helmet as a cyclist encourages risk-taking behaviour in drivers around you.

I don’t know about motorcycling as the helmet standard is completely different.

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