'Free solo' climber conquers Yosemite's El Capitan without rope, safety gear

(USA TODAY) — Alex Honnold, a celebrated 31-year-old rock climber, on Saturday became the first person to scale Yosemite's El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot granite wall, without using ropes or other safety gear, according to National Geographic.

After his standard breakfast of oats, flax, chia seeds and blueberries, Honnold started the ropeless ascent — known as free soloing — at the first light of dawn, 5:32 a.m., and pulled himself over a rocky lip to the summit, a sandy ledge, 3 hours and 56 minutes later.

The climb, which National Geographic said may be the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport, was captured by a team of filmmakers, led by Jimmy Chin, one of Honnold’s longtime climbing partners, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, for an upcoming National Geographic Documentary Films feature.

It was his second attempt to crack El Capitan. In November, Honnold made his first free-solo run at the granite behemoth, but quit after less than an hour because he said conditions did not feel right.

National Geographic said he had been training for the climb for a year at locations in the United States, China, Europe and Morocco, but kept it a secret from all but a small circle of friends and fellow climbers.

Honnold’s climbs are “so remarkable that it defies belief,” CBS correspondent Lara Logan said in a 2015 profile by CBS' 60 Minutes.

According to his website, Honnold "maintains his simple 'dirtbag-climber' existence, living out of his van and traveling the world in search of the next great vertical adventure."

Read the original story at USATODAY.com

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