For this week’s podcast review, I’m reviewing a episode of the TED Society & Culture podcast called How I Climbed a 3,000 foot vertical cliff–without ropes by Alex Honnold.
This episode is about how Alex Honnold free soloed (climbing without ropes) Half Dome and El Capitan. Both of these mountains are located at Yosemite National Park.
Alex Honnold begins the episode talking about his passion for climbing and when he began to free solo. He describes taking on the challenge of climbing a cliff at Half Home, which is 2,000 ft high. Though he thought he was ready to free solo it, he panicked on a part of the cliff where there was only a small groove to place his right foot. Luckily, he had strength to overcome this obstacle and successfully free soloed it. None the less, my palms and feet began to sweat listening to this part of the story.
You would think Alex would be elated at such a feat but he was not. His struggle on that part of Half Dome haunted him. He remembered this as took on the challenge of climbing El Capitan.
As described in the podcast, Honnold thought about climbing El Capitan for 7 years but each time he looked up at he said “No fricking way.” When he finally committed to making the climb, he was methodical in his preparation. He even removed rocks from its face via backpack. He mentally prepared himself, too. He recalls visualizing each step of the way and memorizing each foot and hand movement to make the climb.
On the day of the climb, his focus and preparation paid off. He talked about scaling the cliff with rapid determination. At a part of the mountain called the Boulder Problem that involves a karate kick to put one’s foot in the right position, Honnold’s preparation enabled him to overcome this obstacle without hesitation. El Capitan usually takes a rock climber 3 or 4 days to climb. It took Honnold 3 hours and 56 minutes.
After Honnold struggled at at Half Dome, he strove to master the climbing of El Capitan. I found this to be inspirational. I do not plan on ever free soloing a cliff but Alex set an example to me for mastering an obstacle or difficult situation. What he articulated in this podcast is how necessary it is to methodically prepare oneself for a certain situation and have the mental strength to overcome it. For Alex it was El Capitan, but it can be different for anyone- it can be a giving a business presentation or running a marathon. There are tips in this podcast for everyone to achieve their dreams and goals. Besides hearing about Alex Honnold’s amazing climbing accomplishments, there is a motivational competent to this podcast that is worthwhile to hear.
To listen to this podcast, download TED Society & Culture on Apple Podcats, the TED Android app, Spotify, or other podcast apps. You can also watch it on YouTube.
Materials about Alex Honnold’s ascension of El Capitan and Yosemite National Park are available at the Yonkers Public Library or through the Westchester Library System. To reserve an item, see the display below.