Monday, November 26, 2018

Alone on the Wall

36531127Something you all probably don't know about me from reading my book reviews (and why would you?) is that I love to rock climb. I'm a very outdoorsy person who enjoys hiking and climbing (not too tall) rock faces. That is why when I saw that Alex Honnold's book, which I hadn't read, was coming out in a new edition that featured three extra chapters on his free-solo of El Cap, I knew I had to get it! I ordered it quite some time ago but just finished it today during naptime. Here's the synopsis:

On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan—to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear—completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport" (National Geographic) and "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever" (New York Times). Already one of the most famous adventure athletes in the world, Honnold has now been hailed as "the greatest climber of all time" (Vertical magazine).

Alone on the Wall recounts the most astonishing achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. Now Honnold tells, for the first time and in his own words, the story of his 3 hours and 56 minutes on the sheer face of El Cap, which Outside called "the moon landing of free soloing…a generation-defining climb. Bad ass and beyond words…one of the pinnacle sporting moments of all time."

For those other lovers of rock climbing, this book is a must read! However, for readers who enjoy stories of adventure and uncertainty paired with detailed moments of heart-stopping fear, this book is also for you. Alone on the Wall shares detailed stories of many of Honnold's escapades with readers. He's climbed all over the world, literally. From Patagonia to Europe to Africa. The stories that accompany these climbs are intense and, as my husband says, make your palms sweat just reading it. Though I didn't feel any sweaty palms while reading, I definitely had to keep telling myself that Alex Honnold is still alive. Important information to know is that the type of climbing he does, free soloing, is climbing without ANY protective gear. That is NOT the type of climbing that I enjoy. I go for toprope and sport any day, but even thinking about free soloing something that means life or death with each movement is not for me. Reading about it though... now that's something I can get behind.

The book spans several years of Honnold's climbing adventures and even throws in a bit of a love story. One thing that bothered me a little bit was that, at some points, Honnold seems so arrogant it's nearly annoying. However, everyone that makes a quote in the book mentions that he's so down to earth. I can't really imagine that as I struggle with these two conflicting mental images. I'll have to take everyone's word for it as they know him and I, obviously, do not.

Regardless, this collection of adventures is definitely a book that rock climbers and non-climbers will enjoy. It's absolutely mind-blowing to imagine that someone has accomplished all of these fantastic feats. And the descriptions are so detailed that you can even picture yourself there, not that all readers would want to (too scary!). And, if you want to be able to actually see it (at least the climb of El Cap) --- you can! They made a movie during his climb, which is on my to-see list. Though, watch at your own risk, I've heard it's the most intense climbing movie so far.

Rating: 4/5 Cups 

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