Weekend Warm-Up: Alex Honnold Kicks Back

In these two short clips, Alex Honnold shows that he’s not only able to spider ropeless up near-featureless walls, but has a pretty good sense of humor for a guy who first took up free soloing because he was too shy to approach potential partners.

First, Honnold reviews climbing scenes in classic Hollywood movies. How outlandish are Tom Cruise’s rock-climbing moves in Mission Impossible 2? What about those in Vertical Limit (known as Vertical Dimwit by the climbers who worked on it as stunt doubles and safety riggers)?

Honnold analyzes how a single scene often takes place in several different locations. Sometimes, he can recognize the climbing style of a stunt double. “Oh, I think that’s Chris Sharma!” he exclaims at one point.

Always, his comments are equal parts enthusiastic, knowledgeable and entertaining. And he doesn’t take Hollywood’s liberties with his beloved sport too seriously: “Totally over the top!” he chuckles more than once. They fire a rocket at Cruise with a message that self-destructs in 10 seconds. “They could have just sent him a Snapchat.”


Next, Honnold indulges in a little self-mockery, as he teams up with Black Diamond to improve on the spatula with which he ate vegetables in Free Solo, the Oscar-winning documentary about his climb of El Cap. After years of R&D, he and Black Diamond come up with the ideal solution to such stirring matters: the Alex Honnold Signature Spatula.

Climbing without a rope is such a serious venture, with a single moment’s inattention leading to such dire consequences, that it’s refreshing to see this sub-sport’s ultimate practitioner just kicking back and having a relaxed good time — a good time that viewers of these two well-made little films can share.