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Review on the Rock Climing Documentry Free Solo

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One of the most important insights into Alex Honnold’s nearly-decade-long obsession with climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan without a rope occurs deep in the film Free Solo. His girlfriend, Sanni McCandless, wants to know if Honnold feels a need to avoid death.

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Free solo rock climbing is climbing without a rope, or anything attached to you. It has killed numerous experienced climbers in the past, a few of Honnold’s friends in fact — Andrew Barnes, and Ueli Steck who were mentioned in the film

His free solo of El Capitan was, according to New York Times, “one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, ever.” Honnold has spent years planning his trek up El Capitan. He refers to it as a fascinating puzzle, and a long journey. He studied El Capitan in extreme detail, examining every piece of rock. The film interviews people closest with Alex who didn’t want him to go through with the climb. Five people had died making the attempt to free solo El Capitan. The film can be seen as something incredible, and inspiring of a man accomplishing his lifelong dream, or it can be seen as someone who went against better judgment and got away with it. The documentary also dives into Honnold’s life as a child, and his current relationship with his girlfriend. They said they met at a book signing, and she decided to embrace his simple mind, and his sacrifice of the “cozy life.”

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After all, Alex Honnold himself is an enigma: equable, even-tempered, but withdrawn, although McCandless clearly wants him to be more emotionally open with her. As for Honnold, he clearly isn’t finished with free solo climbs. Does a samurai’s destiny await him? It’s this profound, human tension that makes Free Solo such a gripping and rewarding documentary to watch.

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