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Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold Opens UP: The MINDSET Behind His El Cap Fee Solo + His Relationship to FEAR & LOVE

"I've always considered myself more of a warrior than anything else. A warrior's job is to try to master themselves, and their craft. Ultimately, it's a lifelong pursuit."

Alex Honnold is history’s greatest ever climber in the free solo style, meaning he ascends without a rope or protective equipment of any kind.


Above about 50 feet, any fall would likely be lethal, which means that, on epic days of soloing, he might spend 12 or more hours in the Death Zone. 


On the hardest parts of some climbing routes, his fingers will have no more contact with the rock than most people have with the touchscreens of their phones, while his toes press down on edges as thin as sticks of gum. 


Just watching a video of Honnold climbing will trigger some degree of vertigo, heart palpitations, or nausea in most people, and that’s if they can watch them at all. Even Honnold has said that his palms sweat when he watches himself on film.


In this episode, Alex shares the unique mindset he brings to some of the most incredible human feats ever accomplished. We chat about his family life, how he receives love, and what it was like for Free Solo to win an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature Film – you won’t want to miss this episode!


“There is no adrenaline rush. If I get an adrenaline rush, it means that something has gone horribly wrong.” @alexhonnold


His new show on Nat Geo launched February 4th, 2024 on Disney+ – Arctic Ascent: With Alex Honnold


Listen to Alex’s podcast – Climbing Gold 

"People who are really trying hard to do something are often the most scared, because if they fail, it actually means something to them." @alexhonnold  

And now let’s jump into episode 1581 of The School of Greatness!

“I kind of thought you needed the angst, the turmoil and the suffering – the dark artist. And now being with my wife, I'm like,”Oh yeah, okay, I guess you can actually just have a really nice life and still do hard things, but just do it with a big smile.” @alexhonnold  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • How do you prepare to climb a 3000+ foot wall without a rope?
  • Why were you so curious to free solo climb El Cap in Yosemite without a rope?
  • What inspired you to start climbing as a kid?
  • What has kept your mindset so clear under the most challenging and dangerous situations while climbing?
  • When you feel fear, how do you navigate those emotions?
  • Who has been your biggest climbing mentor?
  • Do you think about falling when you’re in the ‘death zone’?
  • Tell us about the brain scan that analyzed ‘fear receptors’ in your brain.
  • How have you conquered your biggest fears? 
  • You’ve lot a lot of friends from the sport of climbing. Has this affected your outlook on the sport?
  • Is there something that excites you about the possibility of dying on a route?
  • How do you practice visualization before a big climb?
  • If you hadn’t been approached by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the directors of Free solo, would you have tried to climb it without a rope?
  • How long did you train for the free solo climb of El Cap?
  • Your wife mentioned you seemed lost after you achieved the goal of free soloing el cap – what did that feel like for you?
  • Was there a big come-down after achieving this huge goal you set for yourself?
  • Free Solo won an Oscar. What was it like touring the country promoting such a popular film as the star of the show? What was the “Hollywood” life like for you?
  • What have been some surprising benefits from winning an Oscar? 
  • How many friends of yours have lost their lives climbing?
  • What’s the biggest loss you’ve experienced?
  • Do you feel like it’s hard for you to feel loved?
  • Did you feel loved as a kid?
  • What is your love language?
  • What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
  • Tell us about your newest Nat Geo show, Arctic Ascent and the challenges you faced on that expedition.
  • Tell us about Honnold Foundation and why you started it.
  • What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from living in a van for 12 years?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How to prepare mentally and physically for life’s toughest challenges, such as climbing a 3,000+ foot wall without a rope.
  • The importance of navigating fear and maintaining a clear mindset in high-stress situations.
  • The impact of mentorship and community in achieving your goals.
  • The role of visualization and goal-setting in achieving seemingly impossible feats.
  • The benefits of embracing a minimalist lifestyle and focusing on what truly matters in life.
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

His new show on Nat Geo launched February 4th, 2024 on Disney+ – Arctic Ascent: With Alex Honnold


Listen to Alex’s podcast – Climbing Gold 


Connect with
Alex Honnold

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:


Kaibu by Killercats

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