Soloing El Sendero Luminoso
Alex Honnold has started off 2014 with one of his most ambitious and difficult ropeless “free solo” ascents to date, a sustained 1500-foot limestone big-wall route called “El Sendero Luminoso,” in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. The demanding route entails many pitches of technical 5.12 climbing. Parties often take two days to climb this impressive monolith, but on the day of his ascent, it took Alex only 3 hours to stand on the summit.
Partner and fellow North Face team member Cedar Wright traveled to Mexico a week ago to help Alex clean and prepare the route and pioneer the final thousand feet of terrain to the true summit, for this landmark ascent. Cedar Wright said, “I climbed the route four times with Alex to help him prepare and each time I was struck by how complex and tenuous the climbing is. There are hundreds of hand and foot moves to remember, and at times it’s just a few millimeters of your fingers and toes that are keeping you connected to the wall. Mostly I just tried not to think about him soloing the route while I was up there with him because it was so terrifying. Alex will downplay the achievement but I can assure you this is one of the most cutting edge Big-wall Solos of all time. Alex had this to say;
“It went basically how it was supposed to - I went and soloed Sendero. It felt pretty straight forward. It is definitely a lot different than soloing a granite big wall where you are plugged into cracks and there are only a few sections where you have to remember the moves. In the end the hardest part of the solo was just walking up there. Once I started up, I was like; this is awesome. I didn’t blow a single foot …like a ballerina.”