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Thread: Free Solo

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, GA

    Free Solo

    Last night, my wife and I saw the film chronicling Alex Honnold’s 2017 free solo ascent of El Capitan (for those unfamiliar, that means he climbed the ~3200-foot feature without a rope or any other safety equipment). The climb itself easily qualifies as one of the great physical achievements in human history, and the film is a fascinating look into what makes Honnold tick (he had made a name for himself as a barrier-breaking free solo climber for about a decade before the El Capitan ascent). It also features stunning up-close views of his work, including “standing” on footholds that I couldn’t really see even on a full-size movie screen. The movie is beautifully made and it does a great job of celebrating Honnold’s achievement, exploring his personal reasons for doing what he does, and packaging the whole thing in a way that really puts his accomplishments into perspective, even if you’re not a climbing expert (I’m not a climber at all, just really interested in these kinds of things).
    It’s only playing in limited engagements city by city. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in climbing, feats of courage and human excellence, and/or the minds and souls of exceptional people.
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/films/free-solo/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    I've been waiting for this to show up someplace near me...if not it will eventually end up on TV, PPV or something...
    I do not quibble with those who say this is possibly the greatest athletic achievement of all time. Clearly, abundantly arguable, and certain not mainstream athletic activity, but
    a preposterously brave and skilled accomplishment.

    I have hate getting above the fourth rung of my stepladder.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    I've been waiting for this to show up someplace near me...if not it will eventually end up on TV, PPV or something...
    I do not quibble with those who say this is possibly the greatest athletic achievement of all time. Clearly, abundantly arguable, and certain not mainstream athletic activity, but
    a preposterously brave and skilled accomplishment.

    I have hate getting above the fourth rung of my stepladder.
    There are obvious athletic dimensions here, but to me, the more impressive part of this feat is the mental fortitude required. I canít think of any higher demonstration of psychological restraint and focus. The film does a great job of discussing that.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2007
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    Walnut Creek, California
    Who is running the camera and from where?

  5. #5
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    Feb 2007
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    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim3k View Post
    Who is running the camera and from where?
    There is a team of climber/filmmakers who film alongside and above Honnold while he climbs, supplementing with fixed camera shots and drone footage. Thereís a good bit of meta-conversation within the film as the camera guys, all elite climbers in their own right, wrestle with their impact on Honnoldís mindset and possible risk factors.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by wilson View Post
    There are obvious athletic dimensions here, but to me, the more impressive part of this feat is the mental fortitude required. I canít think of any higher demonstration of psychological restraint and focus. The film does a great job of discussing that.
    I'd compare it to William Tell. Physically, he's still just shooting an apple with an arrow. Physically, a climber doesn't use rope to help him or her get up the rock. But, William Tell has to have complete physical and psychological mastery, or someone likely will die.

    When I used to climb when I was young, John Bachar was said to be the best climber in the world. Unfortunately, he died when he fell while free soloing when he was 52. I'm stunned by what Honnold can do and want to see the movie, but I hope not many people try to emulate him.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2007
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    Raleigh
    Quote Originally Posted by Duke79UNLV77 View Post
    I'd compare it to William Tell. Physically, he's still just shooting an apple with an arrow. Physically, a climber doesn't use rope to help him or her get up the rock. But, William Tell has to have complete physical and psychological mastery, or someone likely will die.

    When I used to climb when I was young, John Bachar was said to be the best climber in the world. Unfortunately, he died when he fell while free soloing when he was 52. I'm stunned by what Honnold can do and want to see the movie, but I hope not many people try to emulate him.
    Hold my (Ymm,) beer.

    Seriously, this is absolutely amazing and I hope you're correct about copycats.
    [redacted] them and the horses they rode in on.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA.
    While it's an amazing feat, it's also incredibly stupid. Doesn't mean it wouldn't make for a fascinating film.
    A plane takes off from Baltimore and touches down on Bourbon Street

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Wait! This isn't the next Star Wars movie?

    -jk

  10. #10
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    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Wait! This isn't the next Star Wars movie?

    -jk
    Free Solo: The Han-Chewie Redemption

  11. #11
    A New Hope Solo. Something for the Womens National Team.

    I was thinking when I read the thread title Ďis she in jail?í

  12. #12
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    Feb 2007
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    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by rsvman View Post
    While it's an amazing feat, it's also incredibly stupid. Doesn't mean it wouldn't make for a fascinating film.
    I get what you’re saying...the risk factor is astronomical, and the margin for error is zero. But in this case, I wouldn’t call it stupid. On several occasions in the film, Honnold directly addresses the lack of any second chances, and he readily acknowledges the risk. He makes it quite clear that he’s not willing to sacrifice his fulfillment in order to prolong his life span. His priorities are very obviously atypical, but his decisions are not the product of denial or a lack of awareness. He’s just willing to assume monumental risk in pursuit of what’s most important to him.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    One of the people behind this film (and occasionally in front of it) is Jimmy Chin, who did a similarly enjoyable adventure chronicle called Meru which, at one time, was on Netflix. It may be still - if so, it's worth checking out. It's nice to get a window into their adventure, appreciate it vicariously from the safety of our homes or theater. Any illusions about it as a reasonable/sensible thing to attempt were cured for me by reading Krakauer's Into Thin Air.

  14. #14
    I enjoyed it more than I thought i would (and if I didn't expect to enjoy it I wouldn't have dragged the wife out to the movies w/ me).

    It is obviously visually stunning... but I really enjoyed getting a look into Alex's mind. I think most people would find him to be weird or eccentric or different (maybe those words all share something in common) but I found it refreshing. I liked how he could see how he was different and it didn't make him want to change. Yet when he did change in certain ways he was also okay w/ that. He was just very comfortable being him, whatever that was at the time.

    It was also interesting watching it from the viewpoint of his friends... there was a quote by someone in the film that was something like... from an outside view what he's doing looks crazy... from a climbers view what he is doing is absolutely nuts. You get a good view of that as his friend can barely watch him doing some parts of the climb. It's like a scary movie and you just have to look away but you still want to see what happens.

    Also I don't necessarily agree w/ the William Tell analogy. Yes, a lot of people can make that climb but how may of them do it without ever falling? I honestly have no clue but I would imagine most of the people doing the climb fall at least once. They don't use the rope to pull themselves up but they also don't start over when they fall and the rope catches them. Also if William Tell misses the arrow shot he isn't the one at risk of dying .

    Anyway... definitely recommend the movie. Glad that I got to see it in the theater.

  15. #15
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    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Just left the Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem, an indie film house. Mostly full showing, maybe 70 people. Great place!

    Not much I can add, except his girlfriend is fooling herself if she thinks he's going to quit climbing now that he's done this particular hill. There are some funny parts, mostly nervous laughter, if you can believe that!

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    ...Jimmy Chin, who...
    is very, very handsome. Looking forward to confirming that impression at a local theater soon.
    Nothing incites bodily violence quicker than a Duke fan turning in your direction and saying 'scoreboard.'

  17. #17
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    Nov 2007
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    Vermont
    probably not the same Jimmy The Chin I used to know in New Jersey. He could get you a truckload of moozarell at a really good price.

  18. #18
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    May 2007
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    Tennessee
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    probably not the same Jimmy The Chin I used to know in New Jersey. He could get you a truckload of moozarell at a really good price.
    So ... what falls off the truck, stays in the truck. Or something.

  19. #19
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    May 2007
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    Tennessee
    Quote Originally Posted by weezie View Post
    is very, very handsome. Looking forward to confirming that impression at a local theater soon.
    He does have charisma in spades, and seems like a genuinely great guy. His wife and co-producer - Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi - is quite attractive, and Princeton educated to boot. They have 2 kids ... haven't seen them yet, but my guess is the whole family took extra helpings at the good looks buffet.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    I finally had a chance to watch this on cable this weekend. Completely agree with most of the views here, but one thing that interested me that I don't think was said, is how well choreographed his climb was. He practiced many of the more difficult sections of the climb in advance with rope and took copious notes of each move. Almost like an elaborate and intricate dance, he knew where every hand and foot move had to be before he ever started the free solo. The discussion of the "karate kick" move was fascinating. I'm not a climber so maybe this is routine, but it was really interesting to watch the preparation.

    Favorite quote by a member of the camera crew before one early morning climb: "Let's hope it's a low gravity day."
    Rich
    "Failure is Not a Destination"
    Coach K on the Dan Patrick Show, December 22, 2016

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