Mountain climber Alex Honnold defied death and made history at Californias Yosemite National Park and he did it all under four hours.
The 31-year-old elite climber on Saturday became the first person to scale the nearly 3,000-foot face of Yosemites El Capitan granite formation without ropes or safety gear, an act known in mountaineering as free-soloing.
National Geographic, which exclusively reported Honnolds ascent, called it perhapsthe greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport. Fellow elite climber Tommy Caldwell had another way of describing Honnolds feat:
This is the moon landing of free-soloing, Caldwell told National Geographic. Caldwell would know difficulty: In 2015, with a partner and safety gear, he scaled the Dawn Wall, considered El Capitans most difficult route.
After Honnold completed his climb in 3 hours and 56 minutes, he shared a photo of his climb via Facebook and said he was so stoked to realize a life dream today.
A free-solo climb on smooth granite face nearly a mile-and-a-half high means theres no margin for error. A misplaced foot could spell death, which Honnold is well aware of.
Whats unique about the climber is his unmatched ability to control his fear a feat so strong neuroscientists have studied parts of his brain, according to National Geographic.
With free-soloing, obviously I know that Im in danger, but feeling fearful while Im up there is not helping me in any way, Honnold told the magazine. Its only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and leave it be.
He told National Geographic in January that he fears death as much as anyone, but simply has more of an acceptance that I will die at some point.
When it came to preparing for his climb, Honnold followed an intense training regimen that included hanging by his fingertips and doing one-arm pull-ups in the converted van he lives in. He also began memorizing the path and thus each hand and foothold along El Capitans Freerider route at least two years ago.
Video of Honnolds climb will be part of an upcoming National Geographic feature.
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