Solo climber is 1st up Yosemite's El Capitan without ropes

Credit Getty Images

Credit Getty Images

Honnold made history Saturday free soloing El Capitan (left).

In preparation for the climb, the 31-year-old trained for over a year in China, Morocco, Europe and the United States, and allegedly made an earlier attempt in November, but backed off due to unfavorable conditions.

According to Mark Synnott writing for National Geographic, Honnold set off at the break of dawn, at 5:32 am and, climbing swiftly and steadily, topped out a mere 3 hours and 56 minutes later. Honnold took a route on El Capitain called Freestyle, which as Uproxx noted, usually takes four days to scale. Freerider features some noteworth pitches; "The Monster Offwidth" - a miserable wide crack that has been known to break people and "The Boulder Problem" pitch which is the crux of the entire route and is essentially one hard move off a tiny handhold. "I've never seen him climbing so well". 'But in the years since, I've pushed my comfort zone and made it bigger and bigger until these objectives that seemed totally insane eventually fell within the realm of the possible'.

Honnold started the climb at about 5:30 a.m. today.

The climb up 3,000-foot (914-meter) El Capitan used to take days to complete with the aid of ropes, safety gear and a partner.

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Free Rider was first "discovered' in 1995 by Alexander Huber, then climbed free in 1998 by the German and his brother Thomas Huber". For much of its length, Freerider follows the Salathe Wall route, which was established in 1961 by the wall-climbing pioneer Royal Robbins, who died in March.

Alex Honnold is the Neil Armstrong of rock climbing. He dropped out of the University of California Berkeley to conquer Yosemite and other major summits around the world.

His previous exploits have been widely documented. A National Geographic film crew captured Honnold's revolutionary 2011 free-solo of the north-west face of Half Dome, in Yosemite, including a hair-raising moment of truth near the top in which Honnold struggled, uncharacteristically, to keep his cool.

Saturday's feat isn't the first time Honnold has been in the national media spotlight. He has always been atop the climbing-world pantheon, and today's feat puts Honnold in the realm of the climbing gods. A small circle of friends and fellow climbers who knew about the project had been sworn to secrecy.

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