Moonlight Buttress freesolo!
Alex Honnold, the 22 year old climber from California, has been impressing the climbing world. Young, bold and talented are all adjectives used to describe the up and coming superstar. To this point, Honnold has lived up to the hype, coming off a season in which he was awarded the Golden Piton Award for Rookie of the Year.
One of his most impressive accomplishments was a free-solo ascent of Astroman (IV 5.11c) in Yosemite Valley. This 1000 foot, 10 pitch classic, is known as a Yosemite testpiece, with pitches such as the Enduro Corner and the Harding Slot, that have spit off numerous talented climbers. If that wasn’t enough, he continued his day with another big free solo. This time of the Rostrum (IV 5.11c), 8 more pitches of difficult and physical climbing.
So what is the next challenge for Honnold? How about Zion National Park’s Moonlight Buttress (V 5.12+)? Moonlight Buttress is 1200 feet and 9 pitches, 4 of the last 5 rated 5.12a or harder – more sustained than Astroman or the Rostrum. To prepare for his free solo of the route, Honnold made four solo ascents over the course of two days, using only a spool of static line and a mini-traxion. Then on April 1st, he sent the route ropeless in 83 minutes. According to Honnold, „All of it was locker. Really good, solid fingers”.