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I don’t think I’ve ever held my breath for so long. Three hours and 56 minutes. The length of time Alex Honnold climbed from the base of El Capitan to its summit, solo, without a rope. El Capitan is the magnificent cloud-kissing marble boulder that rises in the midst of the Yosemite National Park, and is the magnet for the most serious of rock climbers. And the most serious of serious climbers is Alex Honnold, who on June 3, 2017, did what no one had ever dreamed possible.
Standing in the way of his success that day was a section on a middle pitch called The Boulder Problem. In terms of degree of difficulty, the move ranks amongst the highest; but to execute it at 2000 feet, with fatigued arms and legs, with a beating heart, and without a rope, knowing the slightest miscalculation means certain death, leaves me stunned that anyone would ever attempt it.
How extraordinary then it must have been to see that Climber on the rock face of El Shaddai, patiently making his ascent, alone and unassisted, with bloodied knuckles and bruised back, and bravely facing the Problem that no man or women in the history of the world had ever succeeded in solving. The Atonement Problem. One slip, one misjudgment, and all hope of salvation for the world would be immediately extinguished. But he steeled his nerve, and made the move, and won the summit for all who were staking their life on his success.
DM 29th June 2020