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Sure, it’s easy to scoff at lowball bouldering. But when the world’s most accomplished free soloist does it, maybe, just maybe, there’s something to it after all…
Alex Honnold is most famously known as the world’s most accomplished free soloist, with the only ropeless ascent of Free Rider (VI 5.13a) up El Capitan in Yosemite, in 2017. But, despite the mythology that has built up around him and his ascent, he spends most of his time just doing regular, old climbing like the rest of us. In this video of him in his backyard of Red Rock, Nevada, Honnold gets after it on some scruffy lowballs, working to train up his finger strength and power for larger objectives.
As one passing climber asks while Honnold tries a slappy V7, “How does this boulder compare in intensity, say, to free-soloing El Cap?” Technically, the crux of Free Rider is the same grade as the problem Honnold is trying, though of course the price for falling off the latter is death; the former, a mere bruised tailbone or, perhaps, a shattered ego.
Enjoy the video!