On this date in 1985, rock climber Alex Honnold was born in Sacramento, California. Honnold is one of the top free-solo climbers in the world. In free solo, the climber does not use any ropes or protective gear but relies only on physical and mental strength. He also does big-wall climbing, which is defined as a route that takes more than a day to climb.
A self-described “atheist rock climber,” Honnold was taken to church as a child, but instead of finding meaning in bible readings, he daydreamed about climbing the church’s rafters. Honnold began rock climbing at age 11. He attended the University of California-Berkeley to study engineering but dropped out to pursue his climbing passion and lives out of his van, traveling to different climbing spots. In a video by filmmaker Chris Johnson, Honnold described why he’s an atheist: “I was taken to church for maybe five or six years as a kid and at no point did I ever think there was ever anything going on with church. I always saw it as a bunch of old people eating stale wafers, and that’s totally weird to me.”
Honnold, along with climber Hans Florine, holds the world record for the fastest ascent of “The Nose” of El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot granite wall, in California’s Yosemite Valley. It’s is the most popular route to ascend the mountain. Honnold and Florine climbed it in the record time of 2:23:51. On June 3, 2017, he became the first person to scale El Capitan without using ropes or other safety gear, in 3 hours and 56 minutes. According to National Geographic, the ascent “may be the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport.”
“By not believing in an afterlife, it forces you to make the most out of this life to get the most out of the time you have.”