Honnold Describes Rainbow Wall Free-Solo

Rainbow Wall on Bridge Mountain: Alex Honnold needed about five hours to hike in and out, and just “an hour or so” to solo the 14-pitch Original Route (5.12b). Rob Pizem Collection

Honnold Describes Rainbow Wall Free-Solo

5/13/10 – Alex Honnold had a wild and windy mega-day at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, at the end of April, enchaining three long routes free-solo. Honnold started with the remote Original Route (5.12b, 14 pitches) on Rainbow Wall. He had onsight free-climbed the route three or four years earlier, but hadn’t been back.

After making the two-hour approach, Honnold soloed the route with hiking shoes in his pack in preparation for the long descent. He said it took “over an hour or so” to climb the route. “I remembered a few individual moves here and there, but it basically felt like I was onsighting again,” he said in an email. “It was pretty exciting.”

Honnold added that the descent was “heinous, with really strong wind and a lot of sun. Probably something like three hours back to the Pine Creek parking lot.”

Back at his van by around 3 p.m., he ate a late lunch, returned some phone calls, and drove to the mouth of Black Velvet Canyon, then hiked to the base of the wall by about 5 p.m. Honnold started up Prince of Darkness (5.10c, 6 pitches), climbing the thin face route in about an hour. “I was going really slowly,” he said. “It’s thought-provoking climbing, and my feet hurt. It was so windy on that wall, it was hard to be psyched.”

Where Prince of Darkness joins Dream of Wild Turkeys, Honnold began climbing back down. He down-climbed the first seven pitches of Dream (up to 5.10a) to end his day with a total of about 27 pitches. Honnold had never been on either Prince of Darkness or Dream of Wild Turkeys. Down-climbing the latter, he said, “was like a cruise compared to the rest of the day’s climbing.”

By 7 p.m. or so he was back at the car, and soon he was at a friend’s house for a shower and dinner. “All very civilized,” he said.

Date of Ascents: April 28, 2010

Sources: Alex Honnold,