• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
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  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
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  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
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  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
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    Northern Soul - Ice climbing in Québec
    Whipper of the Month
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    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel


    Alex Honnold on the summit of Half Dome. Photo by <a target="_blank" href="http://kemplemedia.com/">Tim Kemple</a> . Alex Honnold and I have a secret. That’s right. Alex Honnold—the boldest climber in the world—and I (a nobody) share an intimate secret.

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like to go climbing with someone like Honnold. I’ve even found myself daydreaming about sharing a rope with the likes of, say, Henry Barber in the 1970s (though I actually wasn’t alive then). What would I learn? Would I have had the guts to ask “Hot” Henry about his mustache? Would I gain insight into the lives of these infallible rock warriors?

    This winter, I got to go cragging with none other than Alex Honnold. Though Alex doesn’t have a mustache, they don’t call him Honn-bold for nothing.

    I’d never met Alex before, but we did exchange e-mails after he soloed Cosmic Debris (5.13b) and Heaven (5.12) during the same day in Yosemite. I had contacted him for Rockandice.com, and he had responded professionally, and then followed up with a friendly note, writing:

    Hey, I read your story on your little blog thingy. I thought it was surprisingly decent... Alex. Wow. Surprisingly decent!Hey,
    I read your story on your little blog thingy 
    I thought it was surprisingly decent.

    Wow. Surprisingly decent!

    So when the opportunity arose to climb with Alex this winter, I was stoked. My roommate Chris Kalous (of Enormocast fame), Hayden Kennedy (alpinist extraordinaire), and I (“blogger”) would take Honnold to The Fortress of Solitude. For Alex and me this would be our first time to post-hole through knee-deep Colorado powder for an hour and a half to get to base of this mythical cliff. And for both of us, it was probably the last time too.

    Quite frankly, The Fortress of Solitude is the worst cliff I’ve ever visited, and if it were up to me I would rename this cliff, The Fortress of Chossitude. I’ll put it this way, unless you’re Tommy Caldwell or some other 5.14c climbing genius that has sent every route in the entire area (and this includes Rifle), climbing at the Fortress of Solitude will seem utterly pointless.

    Once we finally reached the choss pile—Alex post-holing the approach in sneakers—Kalous and I teamed up and took turns climbing to the third bolt of the crag’s “warm-up” 5.12c/d. Meanwhile, Hayden and Alex moved from one route to the next, Alex hanging the draws and calmly (though not without complaints about the rock quality) climbing to the chains of every route he tried.

    My first impression of Honnold was that he is, in fact, infallible. At the cliff he is all business: “You want me to hang the rope on that?” Okay. Done.

    “Hey Alex. Can you onsight this scary, chossy, adventury 5.12 so we can toprope it?” 

    “Okay, dude. Hand me some draws.”

    Honnold mid onsight on the <em>Kalous Logan</em> (5.13). Photo by <a target="_blank" href="http://enormocast.com/">Chris Kalous</a>So after a few hours of Honnold firing route after route including a “coveted” onsight of the Kalous Logan—a bolted, poop-filled 5.13 roof-crack—Kalous and I tired of toproping the same 5.12c/d that Alex had graciously put up for us, and we began toying with the idea that the only way Alex would fall was if we actually “laughed” him off a route.

    And so the work began. Hayden and Kalous fired numerous jokes from their bottomless quiver, but they just glanced off Honnold’s armor like broken arrows. Eventually, Alex began crawling up his last pitch of the day, a steep and “loose” 5.13b with absolutely no chalk on it. Honnold’s invincibility begged for a last ditch attack.

    For the record, it was Hayden who began the “game winning” banter. He coolly struck Honnold’s secret weakness with a heat-seeking missile of a topic—a question everyone has pondered, but few have truthfully answered.

    Kalous wasted no time and chimed in with a zinger. But unfortunately, Honnold had just reached a jug rest. He just shook out and casually offered his own analytical opinion regarding the topic.

    However, I stealthily waited in the shadows. And just as Honnold left the rest, and Hayden fed him slack, I notched my arrow. I paused until Honnold was at the crux, then let fly. And like the soaring arrow of Paris, the laughter struck Honnold’s weak spot, and I looked up to see him at last hanging on the end of the rope, his hands raised as if to say, “Mercy!”

    And what was the joke that pierced Honnold’s Achilles’ heel?

    Don’t worry, Alex, your secret is safe with me.

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