NorCal’s “Free Solo” Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

The documentary Free Solo follows rock climber Alex Honnold as he climbs up Yosemite’s famed El Capitan. Over the past few decades, a handful of people have been able to achieve the climb, but not like Honnold did. He climbed up the 3,000-foot granite face without any ropes with a film crew by his side.

The documentary was well received around the world and now its greatness is cemented in movie history as it won the 2019 Oscar for Best Documentary. The filmmakers dedicated the movie to everyone who believes in the impossible:

Honnold’s roots sit firmly in Northern California. He found his climbing enthusiasm in Sacramento, where he was born and raised, before attending California Berkeley for a year. His stint at one of Northern California’s premiere colleges was cut short to become a full-time rock climber. Now, his legacy sits on the rock face of NorCal’s most popular National Park.

Alex Honnold is a household name in rock climbing. Some have even referred to him as the “Michael Jordan of Rock Climbing.” The documentary Free Solo follows Honnold as he climbs up Yosemite’s famed El Capitan. Over the past few decades, a handful of people have been able to achieve the climb, but not without ropes like Honnold did.

It was Honnold’s climb up El Capitan that may forever serve as a monumental occasion for the dangerous sport of rock climbing. Honnold’s friend and fellow elite climber Tommy Caldwell called “the moon landing of free soloing.”

The many rock faces of Yosemite National Park have become a haven for Honnold. He broke the El Capitan speed record with Caldwell twice in 2018 and spends much of his summer months living out of a van in the park, practicing his climbing routes.

His physical abilities are apparent when you watch him climb, but the experts in rock climbing say it’s his uncanny ability to focus is what makes him the best rock climber in the world. Just think about it – he completed a 3,000 foot climb in four hours with no ropes while a documentary crew followed his every movement. Now that’s focus.

The sport of rock climbing remains very dangerous in Yosemite, with approximately 2-3 deaths per year and many injuries. But in the face of danger, Honnold remains the king of the rock face, and now the king of the documentary filmmaking world.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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