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  • On June 3rd, 2017, I became the first person

  • to free solo El Cap by myself without a rope.

  • Alex Honnold, the young climber who made it to the top

  • of El Capitan, no harness, no ropes attached.

  • He scales walls higher than the Empire State Building,

  • and he does it without any ropes or protection.

  • I assume you love climbing, right?

  • - I mean, I assume you love it. - Yeah, yeah.

  • I do love climbing.

  • I think Yosemite's the most beautiful place on Earth.

  • It's home to so many of the most iconic walls in the world.

  • There's always a bigger challenge, there's always something

  • to be inspired by in Yosemite.

  • Before I started making the film about free soloing El Cap,

  • I'd been dreaming about free soloing El Cap for many years

  • and had never even really tried or put any effort into

  • it because there was no accountability.

  • I never told anybody that I wanted to,

  • I never put any effort into it,

  • basically it just kept never happening and I reached

  • a point where I was like, someday I'm gonna be

  • a middle aged man and look back and be like,

  • how come I never even tried, you know?

  • Like, why did I always want to do this thing but never

  • did it and never even put any effort into it?

  • And so, a piece of advice for anybody trying something

  • that's very hard for them or for something

  • that seems like sort of an impossible goal,

  • is to just steadily broaden your comfort zone over time.

  • Basically, consistently do things that are slightly harder

  • for you in the right direction,

  • not necessarily specifically towards that goal,

  • but sort of keep broadening yourself until eventually

  • it seems possible.

  • I think actually climbing affords a lot of opportunities

  • for self-reflection and measuring self growth because

  • the rock never changes, and so each season

  • you can come back and climb the same routes

  • and you see your own personal growth.

  • I mean, climbing on El Cap is a perfect example,

  • because I climbed it for the first time, I think,

  • in 2006 and it took us 22 hours, I think,

  • And then this last summer I climbed that same route

  • in less than two hours.

  • So it's nice to see that level of growth over a decade.

  • The thing about free soloing, which is climbing without

  • a rope, is that there's such a psychological component

  • to it. It's not just the physical difficulty,

  • It's also, Does it feel slippery?

  • Does it seem scary?

  • Like, is there an insecure move?

  • So, I'd like to differentiate risk and consequence.

  • I mean, the consequences are definitely death.

  • If you fall off the wall, you're definitely gonna die.

  • But the risk is sort of the likelihood

  • of actually falling off, and the idea is that

  • with enough preparation, with enough training,

  • you can mitigate the risk.

  • I mean, I think that the idea was that with two years

  • of preparation, the risk for me was approaching zero,

  • even though the consequences were still super high,

  • at least the risk was very low.

  • So, to free solo El Cap, I put maybe two years

  • of direct effort into it, but then beyond that,

  • I put another 10 years of sort

  • of indirect effort, free soloing routes

  • that are very similar, but not exactly the same.

  • And then, once it seemed like El Cap was maybe possible,

  • then I put two years of effort into it.

  • But then the final six months I knew that it was possible,

  • I knew that I could do it and I wanted to do it.

  • So then I was single-mindedly focused

  • on free soloing El Cap.

  • And so for those six months, I was training way too much,

  • like working out a lot, eating really well, really focused.

  • And then there's the whole preparation on the route itself,

  • because there's physically and mentally preparing for it,

  • but then there's also practicing the route itself,

  • which means just spending a lot of time on the wall.

  • And so for me, one of the challenges was sort of to hit

  • them both in the sweet spot, you know to do the solo

  • while I still felt strong, but also felt prepared enough.

  • I guess one of the takeaways from free soloing El Cap

  • is that if you want to do something very difficult,

  • you just have to put in the time and the effort,

  • you just have to put in the work.

  • I think for me, it was easier because I love climbing

  • so much and I love the process so much

  • and the goal was so inspiring.

  • Basically, it hit all the sweet spots.

  • Where El Cap is so impressive to me and so inspiring,

  • and I love the actual day-to-day effort involved,

  • So it was easy for me to put in that level

  • of effort because I was inspired for it.

  • So I mean, maybe the takeaway is that if you want

  • to do really difficult things, make sure they're things

  • that you actually want to do.

  • You know, like be inspired by the work that you're doing

  • and then put in the time.

On June 3rd, 2017, I became the first person

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