Alex Honnold Sets Up a Toprope For Bear Grylls

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Bear Grylls on rock. The last time he was pulling on gear and misusing the term “solo climbing” in the Mojave Desert. Now he’s back to “scale a sheer rock face in the Swiss Alps,” according to National Geographic. No longer solo, or whatever Bear thinks that word means, he’s enlisted the help of Alex Honnold to hang his toprope. Admittedly, this clip from Running Wild is not as laughable as the desert video, but it does raise some questions. For example:

  • Why is Alex Honnold struggling on a slab that appears to be five or six number grades easier than the friction slabs on the Freeblast portion of Freerider? Did the producers tell him to do that, or is he trying to make Bear Grylls feel better about himself?
  • What’s with the stick in Honnold’s pack?
  • Is no one going to tell Bear that he should stop pulling on gear? He’s never going to get better unless he tries the moves. That said, he does seem gripped so maybe we’ll give him a pass
  • Why is the grass growing sideways in the final shot of Bear? Was he laying on the ground for this interview segment?

Film: How Matt Cornell Free Soloed One of America’s Classic Hard Mixed Routes

"The Nutcracker" explores the mental challenges of solo climbing and the tactics Cornell used to help him send the route.