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Here’s the Wild Idea

Alex’s Wild Idea: To climb El Capitan without ropes and tackle some of the world’s most challenging routes, setting records, inspiring others, and giving back through his foundation.

*Editors Note: Do not try this at home.

Alex Honnold is the most exciting and recognized climber in the world, in addition to being one of the best climbers ever. Last year, Alex completed the most terrifying, challenging climbing feats to date. He climbed 3,000 feet up El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes. (Yes, if he fell at any point he could have died). The film he made with National Geographic about his journey, and the training and everything else leading up to it will hit theaters nationwide in just a few weeks.

For years, Alex has lived the life that many athletes dream of — living out of his van, traveling around, and climbing some of the toughest and most stunning routes. Along the way, he set plenty of records, but remains humble about his talents. He strives to live his own terms to the fullest, and encourage others to do the same. He also is incredibly generous and gives away a third of his income to through his foundation.

My conversation with Alex goes from his amazing free solo ascent of El Cap to his perspectives on life and death, his unique mindset on conquering huge goals, what he does on his vacations, how he met his girlfriend, and why being in danger can make for having a better perspective on the present moment.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You’re a climber.
  • You have ever thought about free soloing.
  • You want to achieve a huge goal and don’t know where to start.
  • You think about life and/or death.

Key Takeaways

  • 2:15 – How Alex’s upbringing influenced him.
  • 5:55 – What the passing of Alex’s father and grandfather taught him.
  • 9:30 – How Alex met his girlfriend.
  • 11:00 – What Alex does when he’s in vacation mode.
  • 12:30 – His journey to El Cap.
  • 14:15 – Hear more about his movie Free Solo, which comes out in October.
  • 20:15 – How he stayed out of a funk after free soloing El Cap.
  • 23:15 – Handling the fame that comes with being a pro athlete.
  • 26:25 – How many times Alex has climbed El Cap.
  • 28:20 – Alex’s tips for Yosemite.
  • 30:00 – The best times to climb in Yosemite
  • 32:50 – Why Alex thinks people should have more dangerous experiences.
  • 35:00 – The mission of Alex’s foundation.
  • 36:00 – Why Alex loves living in Vegas.
  • 37:45 – Some of Alex’s favorite books.
  • 42:25 – How Alex looks at taking breaks and escaping.
  • 45:35 – Alex’s favorite gear and food.
  • 50:10 – What is Alex’s advice to become a pro athlete.

Episodes to listen to

Wim Hof
Stacy Bare
Beth Rodden
Scott Jurek


Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold

Awesome book Alex recommends

Open by Andre Agassi
The Push by Tommy Caldwell
This Land is Our Land by Ken Ilgunas
North by Scott Jurek


Honnold Foundation
Free Solo Film
Beyond Meat

Connect with Alex




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Wild Ideas Worth Living on Twitter