Alex Honnold Biography

Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold is an American professional rock climber and philanthropist. One of the most recognizable athletes in rock climbing history, he is a leader of the current rock climbing revolution amongst greats such as Chris Sharma, Alex Megos, and Adam Ondra. From his start as a kid in a rock gym in Sacramento, to being one of the most prolific free solo climbers ever to live, Honnold has contributed so much to the culture of climbing. Most known for his incredible free solo climbs all around the world, he also is an avid philanthropist, contributing significant portions of his income to support solar energy in third world countries. His most impactful work includes his foundation, The Honnold Foundation, which supports renewable solar energy in developing countries. Alex Honnold, while one of the strongest and incredible climbers to ever live, also divides his time in an effort to make others’ lives better.

  • Birthday: August 17th, 1985 (17-08-1985)
  • Education: Mira Loma High School, University of California Berkeley
  • Net Worth: $1.5 Million
  • Occupation: Professional Climber and Philanthropist
  • Height: 5’11” (1.803 m)
  • Weight: 160 lbs (72.57 kg)
  • Nicknames: Alex “No Big Deal” Honnold
  • Sponsors: Black Diamond, La Sportiva, The North Face, Goal Zero, Beyond Meat

Climbing Career

Alex Honnold is one of the most impressive climbers to ever live. Between his countless hours training to become the first climber ever to scale the 3,000 foot cliff “El Capitan,” he also has done so many impressive things in his career that solidify Honnold as one of the greatest of all time. Honnold has accomplished many other feats, including setting the El Capitan Speed record (with Tommy Caldwell) in 2018, with a blistering time of 1:58:07! 

Additionally, Honnold accomplished an incredible feat called the Yosemite Triple Crown. This accomplishment is only given to climbers who solo climb (with rope and protection) the three largest faces in Yosemite Valley. Honnold's time was 18 hours and 50 minutes. 

One of his earliest solos that gained headlines was his free solo of Moonlight Buttress in 2008 and his free solo climb on Yosemite’s Half Dome in 2009. Alex’s career has been marked by these giant achievements, but he has achieved so much more as a climber and as an athlete and has contributed so much to the climbing community and the world.  

Titles and Awards

Alex, being one of the most legendary climbers of all time has received many awards. The documentary Free Solo, chronicling his life and achievement of free soloing El Capitan, has just recently won an Oscar for Best Documentary. Honnold has also Won the ‘Special Mention’ of Piolets d’Or for outstanding contribution in climbing in 2017 and the ‘Golden Piton Award’ for achievements in climbing in 2010. He is a sponsored athlete by companies including The North Face, La Sportiva, Black Diamond, amongst many others.

He also has accomplishments and titles in the form of world records and first free solo ascents. Honnold was on the cover of National Geographic and appeared on many other media forms like 60 Minutes and The New York Times. While Honnold has many accomplishments and awards, he still remains humble and continues to push the boundaries of climbing in a new direction.

Personal Life

Alex Honnold is an incredible athlete, but a lot of his charm and charisma stems from his incredible personality and brutal honesty. Currently, Alex lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his fiance, Sanni. Before that, he was known for living exclusively in a van for many years prior, climbing all around the world. Honnold is a proud vegetarian due to the ethics around eating meat and the implications it has on the environment. His personality is one of steely demeanor and sometimes brutal honesty.

Before his historic free solo of El Capitan, he sent his girlfriend at the time (Sanni) away so he would be able to concentrate on the feat that was in front of him. Honnold's father supported his climbing up until his unfortunate passing in the early years of Honnold’s life. His mother, a loving and compassionate woman, supports Honnold in his mission to be one the best free solo climber of all time.

Fun Facts

  • Alex Honnold does not consider himself a strong climber. He is often hesitant to give himself praise for his achievements and is always striving to do more.
  • Alex hardley lets anyone know his plans for a big free solo. He is often reclusive in his approach in order to focus on the climb itself.
  • After his historic climb of the 1000 meter wall, El Capitan, other than celebrating his success, he went to Alaska in order to relax.
  • Honnold often listens to music while he is climbing. His favorite genres are rock and punk rock, and he often uses the music to estimate the time he has spent on the wall.
  • Alex Honnold does experience fear, but in the documentary about his historic climb, they found that his brain requires much more stimulation to become active than normal people.
  • Alex Honnold, while an extremely strong climber, has not broken the 5.15 barrier, a grade given to some of the most difficult climbs in the world.


Why does Alex Honnold climb without a rope?

While nobody knows really why he climbs without a rope, Honnold often says that it is like the final exam. It is the proving grounds where you can show your mastery of that route. For many free soloists, it is an achievement to be able to free solo a route and show complete mastery and control. For Honnold, it often is like being in a meditative state of control. No free soloist solos a route for the thrill (while some may), but many do it for the feeling of control and mastery of the sport. Specifically for Honnold, he started free soloing because he was too scared to ask other climbers to climb with him, thus starting his love for the discipline.

What is The Honnold Foundation?

Alex created this foundation with the help of Goal Zero and many donors. His foundation is focused on bringing solar to developing countries. The Honnold Foundation wants to create a brighter, more equitable world for all of us. Their goal is to install solar arrays across developing countries in order to pull impoverished communities out of poverty. They find that many people have issues connecting to a power grid and bringing solar to these communities helps them flourish.

How often does Alex Honnold climb ropeless?

Many people believe that Honnold climbs ropeless all of the time. This is far from the truth. The truth is that Honnold and many other soloists climb 99% of the time on a rope and protection. The act of free soloing a route comes from a lot of training time and rehearsal. The training is to dial in all of the intricacies of the route in order to be able to confidently climb it without a rope.

What does Alex Honnold eat to train?

Alex Honnold is mainly a vegetarian. He does this for mainly ethical reasons and has found that eating vegetarian has met all of his dietary needs. For the free solo on El Capitan, Honnold was very close to going all vegan except for eggs. He also banned desserts from his diet leading up to the historic climb because he didn't want to be on the wall and think: “Oh man, I really shouldn’t have eaten those biscuits.”