A much-honored climber’s exciting story of the death-defying feats that led to rock-climbing superstardom.
Honnold showed a predilection for climbing when he was still a small child. At age 5, he managed to scramble 30 feet off the ground at a climbing gym within just a few minutes. Later, he entered climbing competitions all over his home state of California. After his father died, Honnold dropped out of college and chose to live out of his mother’s minivan while climbing mountains. This book—which alternates between narratives by Honnold and writer/climber Roberts (Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest, 2015, etc.)—focuses on that remarkable and unconventional life and how Honnold, a quiet man who climbed purely for the joy of adventure, became “the most famous climber in the world” in the span of seven years. In his early days as a vagabond climber, he learned how to free solo, a form of climbing that relies on strength and skill alone. Not long after that, Honnold began attempting climbs—such as Half Dome in Yosemite and Sendero Luminoso in Mexico—that veterans of the sport believed were too difficult to do without gear or a partner. His notoriety spread quickly among rock climbers. Rapidly, Honnold became the subject of several documentaries and was receiving sponsorships that allowed him to travel the world and push the boundaries of his sport to extreme new heights. His dedication to the sport of rock climbing had its costs, however, including the painful end of a long-term relationship. Yet celebrity status also reinforced his belief in the importance of living simply. In 2012, he established the Honnold Foundation, which sought “sustainable ways to improve lives worldwide.” The humility, pioneering spirit, and courage that are the author’s personal hallmarks are both refreshing and invigorating. His account ultimately reminds readers how genuine fulfillment comes only when engaging in life fully and without fear.
An inspiringly intense memoir for readers of adventure lit.