For One Leading Climber, Joys Justify the Risks

Alex Honnold understands why Clif Bar dropped him and 4 others
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2014 1:05 PM CST
For One Leading Climber, Joys Justify the Risks
Three of Yosemite's best-known attractions: The El Capitan summit on the left, the granite peak known as Half Dome in the distant center, and Bridalveil Fall on the right.   (AP Photo/Kathy Matheson)

News that Clif Bar was dropping five big-name rock climbers from its sponsorship rolls caused a ruckus within the sport and even outside it, the latter if only because non-fans were surprised to learn that climbers had corporate sponsors. But perhaps the biggest name of those five, Alex Honnold, explains in the New York Times today that's he's fine with Clif's decision. He can't resist a little dig—"it did seem odd that after years of support, someone at Clif Bar seemed to have awakened suddenly and realized that climbing without a rope on vertical walls as high as 2,000 feet is dangerous"—but he understands the thinking.

Honnold writes that the reasons that soloing appeals to him—"the feeling of mastery that comes from taking on a big challenge, the sheer simplicity of the movement, the experience of being in such an exposed position"—justify the risks. But it's very much a personal decision, and he gets it if Clif draws its own line differently. He hopes that the move won't lead to a more mainstream, "sterile" type of climbing, but he's optimistic. "We will all continue climbing in the ways that we find most inspiring, with a rope, a parachute or nothing at all," he writes. "Whether or not we’re sponsored, the mountains are calling, and we must go." Click to read the full column by Honnold, who is working on a memoir called Alone on the Wall. (Read more climbing stories.)

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