Solo climber is 1st up mighty California rock without ropes

Honnold, who has been climbing for 20 years, says

Honnold, who has been climbing for 20 years, says "each year I would show up and it would seem just much too ...

On the solo attempt, however, he did use ropes or other aid for about 10 percent of the climb, including four pendulum swings on El Capitan. In November, Honnold made his first free-solo run at the granite behemoth, but quit after less than an hour because he said conditions did not feel right. In what is the world's most unsafe unassisted climb, he hauled himself up the sheer granite wall using only his skill and brute strength, a style known as free soloing.

One of the most recent such instances came in 2015 when climber Angus Moloney, 22, fell 30m during a free-solo climb of a mountain near Boulder, Colorado. Honnold and another climber set a record-breaking speed climb of the Nose route in 2012, completed the ascent in a staggering 2 hours, 23 minutes and 46 seconds.

Honnold told National Geographic that he used a technique called "smearing", which involves placing your foot in such a way that it exerts enough pressure on a smooth rock face to keep a climber vertical.

Alex Honnold, 31, has been raising the bar to seemingly unreachable heights for rock climbers since he was a teenager.

Honnold, who spoke calmly as he recounted his achievement, brushed off criticism by those who say he's being reckless by not wearing protective gear.

Free-soloing is the practice of climbing without a harness or rope, leaving zero margin for error.

On Instagram, Honnold was flooded with messages of support from other climbers.

-See the full report on National Geographic.

Honnold's preparation for the exploit was the subject of rumor even as it was written off as impossibly daunting and risky.

"With free-soloing, obviously I know that I'm in danger, but feeling fearful while I'm up there is not helping me in any way", he told National Geographic. "I'm moved by all the messages from friends and the greater climbing community". Last week, high on Freerider, I still could not fathom being up there without a rope. It's been incredible.I really appreciate all the positive thoughts - thanks, everyone!

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