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Friday, March 22, 2019

Review: Alone on the wall

I noticed that the audio version of Alone on the Wall was available from the library after watching Free Solo, so I downloaded it and listened to it.

Alone on the Wall makes Alex Honnold sound a lot less likeable than the movie did. His interactions with his climbing partners are full of aggressive comments, either denigrating them or pushing or taunting them. I don't know about you, but if I'm all roped up and doing a climb, having someone insult me isn't going to make me move any faster, even if the guy doing the insulting is the best climber in the world (or as is claimed in this book, the best climbing ever).

The book (I got the pre-Free Solo edition, so it doesn't have the new chapters added to the book about his solo of the El Capitan) discusses Honnold's early exploits, as well as (after he got sponsorship and turned pro) his many successful attempts to set climbing speed records for traversals, many of which are done roped, but that he claims that he is equally proud of.

The book does a good job of avoiding jargon, and it's co-written by another climber, David Roberts, who gets to write his part of the book describing Honnold's adventures in the third person. This has a strangely distancing effect, especially when he describes movies that starred Honnold.

I can't say I got very excited about this book, and preferred the view of Honnold in Free Solo, rather than this book. I can't really recommend it.

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