The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life

By Mark Synnott

03/05/2019 unabridged
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    Available on 03/05/2019

    ISBN: 9780525594352

"One of the most compelling accounts of a climb and the climbing ethos that I've ever read." --Sebastian Junger The Impossible Climb climaxes with Alex Honnold's unprecedented, almost unimaginable feat: a 3,000-foot vertical climb up El Capitan in Yosemite, without a rope. Mark Synnott tells the story in the context of a deeply reported account of his ten-year friendship with Honnold, multiple climbing expeditions, and the climbing ethos they share. The climbing community had long considered a "free solo" ascent of El Capitan an impossible feat so far beyond human limits that it was not worth thinking about. When Alex Honnold topped out at 9:28 am on June 3, 2017, having spent fewer than four hours on his historic ascent, the world gave a collective gasp. His friend Tommy Caldwell, who free climbed (with a rope) the nearby Dawn Wall in 2015, called Alex's ascent "the moon landing of free soloing." The New York Times described it as "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever." It was "almost unbearable to watch," writes Synnott. This majestic work of personal history delves into a raggedy culture that emerged decades earlier during Yosemite's Golden Age, when pioneering climbers like Royal Robbins and Warren Harding invented the sport that Honnold would turn on its ear. Synnott paints an authentic, wry portrait of climbing history, profiling Yosemite heroes John Bachar, Peter Croft, Dean Potter, and the harlequin tribe of climbers known as the Stonemasters. A veteran of the North Face climbing team and contributor to National Geographic, Synnott weaves in his own amateur and professional experiences with poignant insight and wit. Tensions burst on the mile-high northwest face of Pakistan's Great Trango Tower; photographer/climber Jimmy Chin miraculously persuades an intransigent official in the Borneo jungle to allow Honnold's first foreign expedition, led by Synnott, to continue; armed bandits accost the same trio at the foot of a tower in the Chad desert . . . The Impossible Climb is an emotional drama driven by people exploring the limits of human potential and seeking a perfect, dialed-in dance with nature. They dare beyond the ordinary, but this story of the sublime is really about all of us. Who doesn't need to face down fear and make the most of the time we have?

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Summary

Summary

"One of the most compelling accounts of a climb and the climbing ethos that I've ever read." --Sebastian Junger

The Impossible Climb climaxes with Alex Honnold's unprecedented, almost unimaginable feat: a 3,000-foot vertical climb up El Capitan in Yosemite, without a rope. Mark Synnott tells the story in the context of a deeply reported account of his ten-year friendship with Honnold, multiple climbing expeditions, and the climbing ethos they share.

The climbing community had long considered a "free solo" ascent of El Capitan an impossible feat so far beyond human limits that it was not worth thinking about. When Alex Honnold topped out at 9:28 am on June 3, 2017, having spent fewer than four hours on his historic ascent, the world gave a collective gasp. His friend Tommy Caldwell, who free climbed (with a rope) the nearby Dawn Wall in 2015, called Alex's ascent "the moon landing of free soloing." The New York Times described it as "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever." It was "almost unbearable to watch," writes Synnott.

This majestic work of personal history delves into a raggedy culture that emerged decades earlier during Yosemite's Golden Age, when pioneering climbers like Royal Robbins and Warren Harding invented the sport that Honnold would turn on its ear. Synnott paints an authentic, wry portrait of climbing history, profiling Yosemite heroes John Bachar, Peter Croft, Dean Potter, and the harlequin tribe of climbers known as the Stonemasters. A veteran of the North Face climbing team and contributor to National Geographic, Synnott weaves in his own amateur and professional experiences with poignant insight and wit. Tensions burst on the mile-high northwest face of Pakistan's Great Trango Tower; photographer/climber Jimmy Chin miraculously persuades an intransigent official in the Borneo jungle to allow Honnold's first foreign expedition, led by Synnott, to continue; armed bandits accost the same trio at the foot of a tower in the Chad desert . . .

The Impossible Climb is an emotional drama driven by people exploring the limits of human potential and seeking a perfect, dialed-in dance with nature. They dare beyond the ordinary, but this story of the sublime is really about all of us. Who doesn't need to face down fear and make the most of the time we have?

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Immensely enjoyable. Tapping his own impressive mountaineering resume, Mark Synnott dives deep into the rebellious counterculture of extreme climbing to get inside the head of Alex Honnold, the planet's foremost rock climber. What motivated Honnold to free climb El Capitan without a rope? 'Because it's there' doesn't come close to explaining it. Synnott's The Impossible Climb does.  Andy Hall, author of Denali's Howl
Mark Synnott's The Impossible Climb is to climbing what William Finnegan's Barbarian Days is to surfing. John Long, founder of the Stonemasters
Yes, The Impossible Climb is the gripping story of the most perilous rock ascent of all time – but it’s much more than that.  In seamlessly fusing memoir, reporting, social history, climbing lore, technical expertise and intimate glimpses of his tribe, Mark Synnott has given us a kind of epic of life on the edge. Even readers who have never set toe to rock are going to find themselves glued to this insanely brilliant account of extreme athletic ambition and endurance. David Laskin, author of  The Children’s Blizzard
Readers will pick up this for Honnold but will be equally engrossed by Synnott’s own adventures and writing. Library Journal
With the possible exception of the lunar landings, free-soloing El Capitan may rank as one of the most audacious—and terrifying—things a human being has ever done. Synnott’s narrative plasters you a 3,000-foot granite cliff and doesn’t let you go until the climb is done. It is one of the most compelling accounts of a climb and the climbing ethos that I’ve ever read. Sebastian Junger, #1 New York Times bestselling author of TribeWar, and The Perfect Storm

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Mark Synnott

MARK SYNNOTT is a world-renowned big wall climber and alpinist. He is a 20-year member of The North Face "Dream Team," of professional climbers. He has written for Outside, Men's Journal, New York Magazine, Skiing, and Climbing Magazine, among many others. He has worked for National Geographic Television, NBC Sports, Warren Miller Entertainment, Teton Gravity Research and Red Bull Media House. The Air Force recently selected him to be a lead mountaineering and high angle trainer of their special forces. He lives on a dead end dirt road on the side of a mountain in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. The Impossible Climb is his first book.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download
Category: Nonfiction/Sports & Recreation
Audience: Adult
Language: English