From the network behind Planet Earth, Life, Frozen Planet, Africa and North America, Discovery Channel presents Elevation Weekend, taking viewers to rarely seen, striking destinations, following men and women on their journey to conquer the elements. A weekend of epic documentaries, Elevation Weekend documents new conflicts and obstacles as well as reflects on the history of heroic expeditions and how they inform modern explorations.
To find out more, Male Standard spoke with Alex Honnold, 29, a professional adventure rock climber whose audacious free-solo ascents of America’s biggest cliffs have made him one of the most recognized and followed climbers in the world.
How did you get into rock climbing?
My parents are supportive and read about an indoor rock climbing center opening in the newspaper and asked if I wanted to go along.
How has rock climbing changed since you were a kid?
It’s much more common now for youngsters to be rock climbing than when I was a kid. Indoor facilities mean that kids can find out about rock climbing.
When did you know you wanted to turn your hobby into a career?
I decided to take a semester off from college and didn’t tell my parents I was going climbing. At that point, I figured out what I wanted to do.
Where did you go?
I went to Europe and decided to climb here, and travel there. Then I just never went back to college – I followed my passion instead.
How did it feel to walk into the unknown?
I knew I wanted nothing more than to climb, so it felt natural to keep doing what I enjoy. There was no plan to become a sponsored climber or even a professional climber, I just knew I wanted to keep on climbing and the opportunities followed.
Do you feel glamorized?
I think sometimes it sounds glamorized, but that is all there was to it. I traveled, climbed, and followed my inspiration. Certain projects appeal to different people. If an idea creates wonder in you and you wish to make it possible, then believe you can do it.
Are there any memorable moments that stand out?
When I was younger, I tried to climb a route called ‘The Soul.’ It is a 2,000 ft. long route. It’s iconic, and I wanted to free climb using rope. I was climbing for 3 days, which is normal for me, but I got to one of the highest points and couldn’t do it. I felt like I failed. I was way out of my territory, and it took me two years to train to complete the route. When I went back, it really wasn’t that big of a deal, and I thought it was cool how training can make something completely uncomfortable, normal.
If you could change anything in your career, would you?
I don’t think I would change anything. I am happy with the way I’ve been climbing. If I wanted to be a better climber, I might have been more structured in my training. I think with more training and education I might have progressed faster.
What plans do you have for the future?
I’m working with Discovery on Elevation Weekend. It’s an amazing introduction into cultural climbing and covers the history of climbing. It’s great for beginners and enthusiasts alike. You can check it out starting April 25 on Discovery.
What is your Male Standard?
“Being a professional means doing the things you love even on the days you don’t love,” I think about that all the time. Being a climber means just climbing all the time and having fun, being a professional means that on whatever day you schedule a shoot, you just have to go even if like you’re tired or whatever.
About Alex Honnold
A gifted but hard-working athlete, Alex “No Big Deal” Honnold is known as much for his humble, self-effacing attitude as he is for the dizzyingly tall cliffs he has climbed without a rope to protect him if he falls. Honnold has been profiled by 60 Minutes and the New York Times, featured on the cover of National Geographic, appeared in international television commercials and starred in numerous adventure films including the Emmy-nominated “Alone on the Wall.” Honnold is sponsored by The North Face, Black Diamond, La Sportiva, and Maxim Ropes. He is the founder of the Honnold Foundation, an environmental non-profit. And to this day, he maintains his simple “dirtbag-climber” existence, living out of his van and traveling the world in search of the next great vertical adventure.
Elevation Weekend commences with the premiere of the award-winning documentary, VALLEY UPRISING, on Saturday, April 25 at 8 PM ET/PT.