The Rich Roll Podcast
Alex Honnold On The Responsibility of Adventure, Olympic Climbing & Reversing Climate Change
With great adventure comes great responsibility. It’s not enough to simply appreciate our natural world—we must also protect it. Preserve it. Regenerate it. All of us. And with our full attention.
No one embodies this ethos quite like Alex Honnold.
Renowned adventurer and global icon of athletic mastery, Alex is widely recognized for his death-defying ropeless ascent of El Capitan—a 3,600-foot sheer vertical rock face he climbed without a harness or any protective gear whatsoever. It was a feat that stunned the world. Landed it’s cinematic document Free Solo an Oscar. And cemented this unique and compelling individual as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
While our conversation back in 2018 covered this incredible accomplishment, much has transpired in Alex’s life since the whole Free Solo affair. So this conversation takes a different tack, exploring a different side of Alex. We steer clear of the more well-trod terrain and topics he has exhaustively fielded at this point and instead venture into new life experiences and other interests post-Free Solo: Alex as storyteller, podcast host, climbing historian, environmentalist, activist, husband, and more.
The crux of today’s exchange is Alex’s environmental work with The Honnold Foundation.The impact he’s made thus far. He’s intentions for the future. And the steps he intends to pursue to help reverse environmental degradation: the greatest existential threat to life on Earth.
We talk about the challenges of combating the climate crisis and why his current passion is solar and renewable energy.
We also discuss his new turn as a podcaster, co-hosting the newly released Climbing Gold, a special miniseries of climbing-centric stories that explore the past, present, and future of the sport. In addition, Alex shares some insight into climbing’s debut at the Tokyo Olympics.
But overall, the most important lesson Alex imparts is the responsibility of the adventurer. To be a climber, skier, cyclist, runner, or outdoor enthusiast, you must also be an environmental steward—and take personal action to preserve and sustain nature’s finite offerings.
Alex is wise, remarkable, and someone I deeply admire. My hope is that this conversation will inspire you to think more deeply about how you can positively impact the world we all share.
Peace + Plants,
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- Connect with Alex: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
- Podcast: Climbing Gold
- Honnold Foundation: Supporting solar energy for a more equitable world
- Honnold Foundation: 2020 Impact Report
- Free Solo: Watch
- Alex’s book: Alone On The Wall*
- NY Times: The Heart-Stopping Climbs of Alex Honnold
- National Geographic: Alex Honnold Isn’t Fearless – He Just Accepts Death
- National Geographic: Exclusive: Climber Completes the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Ascent Ever
- Climbing: Alex Honnold: Climate Change Is Urgent, We Need to Decrease Extraction Now
- Deadline: ‘Free Solo’ Star Alex Honnold Launches Climbing Podcast
- Tokyo 2020: Sport Climbing
- National Geographic: Rock climbing will be a 2020 Olympic sport. Here’s what to expect.
- The Washington Post: Everything you need to know about the Tokyo Olympics
- Climbing: Olympic Climbing 101: Everything You Need to Know About Climbing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics
- Climbing: A Guide to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Climbing Format
- OCN: Rock-Climbing Broomfield Teen to Represent US in Tokyo Olympics
- Olympic Channel: Olympic sport climbing at Tokyo 2020: Top five things to know
- Forbes: Report: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Will Go Ahead But Foreign Visitors Will Be Banned
- Laughing Place: National Geographic’s “Explorer” Series to Embark on Groundbreaking Scientific Expeditions
- Red Bull: This is how El Capitan’s legendary speed climbing record has tumbled
- Red Bull: Alex Honnold on the life lessons that followed Free Solo
- Rock And Ice: Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell’s “Nose” Speed Record (1:58:07)
- Rock And Ice: Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell Complete New 17-Peak, 35-Mile Linkup in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Out There: Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell complete massive feat in Colorado mountains
- CNN: Rock climber speaks to Cooper about staying active in pandemic
- NPR: Emily Harrington Is 1st Woman To Free-Climb El Capitan’s Golden Gate Route In 1 Day
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Thank The Team: I do not do this alone. Send your love to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering and show notes; Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis for video, editing and graphics; portraits by Ali Rogers & Davy Greenberg; copywriting by Georgia Whaley; and theme music by Tyler Piatt. Trapper Piatt & Hari Mathis.
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.