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Alone on the Wall

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  5,077 ratings  ·  462 reviews
Including two new chapters on Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of the iconic 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan—to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear—completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of th
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by W. W. Norton Company (first published November 5th 2015)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  5,077 ratings  ·  462 reviews

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Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
It's tricky to separate the book from the person, as Alex has been one of my closest friends for the past 13 years, the kind of friend I call family. I appreciated that much of it was written by Alex, and his voice in those parts was true. Stylistically, it was a little difficult to read because those parts were all in italics, and it's strange to read most of a novel in italics. I've also learned over the years that, without realizing it, climbers speak a language of terms that non-climbers don ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, this may be sacrilegious in the climbing community (of which, I am a part), but this book made me dislike a climber I thought I would actually like. There is no doubt that Honnold is an extremely gifted athlete who dares to do things with rock that even the plates and all of their tectonics wouldn't have imagined, but the narrative makes him come off as a snooty, advantaged Cali brat with really problematic and limited perspectives of people not like him.

There is a lot of sexism in the book
Lee Klein
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 rounded down since there's no glossary of terms Alex uses like "send the gnar," "worked," "beta," not to mention all the minute variations in rock like a "smear." But otherwise I flowed over these pages (had them pretty much dialed/couldn’t put it down) like Alex over a 3000-foot granite slab. Read because I watched recently and loved "Free Solo" and "Meru" and "The Dawn Wall," and although I had this one in my queue for months I didn't decide to fire it up until mid-way through On the High ...more
Michael Perkins
As a non-climber this book didn't really add anything for me that I didn't already get from the film "Free Solo"

Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In case you have been living under a rock for the past decade, or maybe more aptly for a book about the climbing world, in case you HAVEN'T been living under a rock, Alex Honnold is a famous rock climber who free solos. That is to say he climbs impossibly tall slabs of granite. Without a rope. For fun. Alex literally takes his life into his hands each time he climbs, facing the ultimate consequences for even the tiniest mistake. A climbing enthusiast myself, albeit of the sturdily-anchored and h ...more
Io Nuca
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, english, climbing
I have to admit that now I'm more impressed with his speed records, alpine climbing and the routes he linked than with his soloing - weird, huh?

Honnold is... well, Honnold :) Loved every page of it.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming into the book, I thought Alex Honnold was a pretty amazing person not just for his climbing ability but for his storytelling, humor, modesty, philanthropy and indifference to fame but politeness to the enthusiastic fans who seek out selfies with him at events.

But this book made me feel differently.

The book spends quite a bit of time painting a picture of Alex's don't care attitude which - after hours of hearing about it (audiobook)- makes his seem cocky and irreverent. I had hoped it wo
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't quite know how to rate this one properly. I got mixed feelings upon mixed terrain and mixed writing. Some bits of the book were definitely in the 5 stars range whereas some others just barely made it into the 2's. There are great portrayals of some of Alex's most extraordinary feats, quite a few interesting insights of his, quite a few quotes that you'd want to keep close to your heart in your own private booklet for glimpses of truth, and all in all it's a pretty good bio of the young e ...more
Carl Avery
I'm conflicted about this book. It's written well and can be appreciated by both rock climbers and non-climbers. Honnold is both an astounding climber and a very thoughtful, philosophical person, and that shines through in the book's stories - in much more depth than in the interviews or videos of him I've watched previously. I like hearing what he has to say. But I had to put the book down after reading about 2/3 of it, and come back to it later, because it was just making me anxious.

I guess I
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this endurance athlete genre and this one by the world's best(?) free solo climber was interesting and inspiring but super technical climbing talk made it hard to follow. Pretty funny to hear him talk about base jumpers like they're crazy when he climbs 2,000-foot walls without ropes. I liked this quote referenced in the book:

National Geographic Adventure: “If you don’t believe in God or an after-life, doesn’t that make this life all the more precious?”
Alex Honnold: “I suppose so,
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alex Honnold is a free climber with unparalleled skill, grace, and speed. He says, "Half way up I'm pretty empty. I'm not really thinking about anything. It's like asking a gymnast what they're thinking about while they're executing a perfect routine." He comes across as a reserved guy who isn't at all full of himself. If you are interested in what motivates the guy who does the most death-defying climbs at record speed, read this book. At the end, you'll be left wondering how much longer he can ...more
Karel Baloun
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having just seen Free Solo at the movies, I was drawn to the book, the signing of which got him together with his highly sympathetic girlfriend Sanni. Fortunately, it complements the movie well.

Unlike when Kotler embellishes the “extreme” experience of surfing a wave through pages of vivid prose, NOTHING written can approximate the impact of seeing video of Alex free climbing. And the movie includes voice, facial expression, and beautiful nature, all of which is hard in print and a few excellent
Alicia Mccormick apple
This book is very difficult to rate. There were moments that I was eating it up and times I had to drag myself through the pages (and it's not even that long of a book). In the end, I was really frustrated with people praising Alex and then also saying he was whiny. Every time this was "talked" about in the book, Alex would backlash and "say" that it "wasn't really like that". In addition, he comes off as a majorly sexist jerk. There are people in the book that say he is humble, but he constantl ...more
I first learned about Alex Honnold, the guy who climbs large mountains without protective gear (ropes, harnesses, hardware) on 60 minutes. My climbing coworkers are obessed with him, so when I saw this book at the library I thought I would pick it up. I admire the physical strength and craft Alex displays when he is climbing, but outside that this book was just plain dull. Some of the narrative is play by play of his films, and I felt I would have been better served to watch them then read about ...more
Nov 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted this to be epic - but sadly it was not. I think Alex's experiences and accomplishments are 10/5. However, I feel like the book itself was more of a show-and-tell timeline. There were points where you could feel the pulse of what was driving the story - but got lost in facts when it could have been an opportunity for some beautiful description. However, it did give some insight into what drives him and his need for a simplistic life, his actions, and desire to help others through his fou ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I was familiar with Alex Honnold's work before reading this book and I had seen Valley Uprising, Free Solo and The Dawn Wall as well as read some articles and seen some videos with Tommy and Alex. And I have to admit, since winning the Oscar, information about climbing and, especially, Alex, has been everywhere. I, myself, have a bit of a soft spot for Tommy, so I was very happy for the bits that he was featured in.

This book, tells things that the Free Solo didn't. It talks about Alex's life an
Ming Wei
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am torn in two, regarding this book, some of the book I really liked, and some of the book I was not that keen about. Certain sections of the book are much more interesting than others, but I am new to rock climbing, and do not usually read books on the subject. Despite rock climbing not being the most interesting thing in the world for me, the book is well writen, and would really appeal to fans of rock climbing, much like football books are more suted to football fans. When reading about spo ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. But I should say that not everyone might feel the same.
I am a begineer-intermediate level climber myself. This helped appreciate the context. And there is a lot of context. In much of the book, climbs are described in some detail with quite some terminology. So an appreciation of that helps.

Book is fast paced. Not too long. Goes from one scenario to next rather quickly. Then there are moments when things went wrong and how Alex or in some cases other people's action, that mad
While certainly an interesting account of climber Alex Honnold's adventures around the world of climbing and record-breaking feats, it only serves to prove the inherently pretentious and inward looking nature of those who pursue climbing and in particular the more extreme versions of the sport. I admit that to be an athlete of this type takes a very particular focus and passion, that does not translate into being a good storyteller. Honnold's narrative often becomes monotonous and dare I say bor ...more
Brett Anderson
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, biography
“There is no adrenaline rush. If I get an adrenaline rush, it means that something has gone horribly wrong.” -Alex Honnold

Alone on the Wall is a phenomenal book from a phenomenal adventurer. I first learned of Alex Honnold's feats of climbing through the short film by the same name as this book. This book provides a deeper look into the journey that brought him to the public spotlight and the epic feats of adventuring he has completed since.

It's incredibly inspiring to read in detail these acco
May 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So this is a book about a young man who climbs huge rocks for fun, without any equipment and barely any chalk for his hand holds. I found it a bit jarring that the parts in his voice have a lot of "Yeah, man, it was a majorly sick climb... and then I was chillin' after in the van I live in." Sort of like a 15 year old surfer, very casually nonchalant about how dangerous his hobby/now career/life is. But there's no doubt he's traveled to lots of amazing mountains and sights around the world, and ...more
Kay Neff
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I bought this book on a whim after watching Alex's film Free Solo. I can say this, it's not at all what I expected. I guess I was hoping it would be more about why Alex climbs and how climbing makes him feel. The thoughts in his mind as he's climbing. It's way more technical in terms of climbing than I care to know. The book portrays Alex's love for climbing perfectly. It just wasn't quite what I expected.
Stephanie Shih
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It covers 9 of Honnold’s greatest climbs / adventures, some transformative (like his trip to Chad), some a little reckless (like his climbs in Vegas in the midst of a break up), and all pretty darn unbelievable. You will read this book with your mouth wide open in amazement while you wipe your sweaty palms on your pants.

Honnold is someone that’s easy to write off - and therefore easily misunderstood - because his actions are so polarizing. Climbing without a rope w
I enjoyed this because I don't typically read things like it. In the spirit of speedymcspeedspeed Alex Honnold, I read it in two longish spurts. I've climbed unseriously, off-and-on, for a while now. I think most people, especially the uninitiated, would be frustrated by the amount of space taken up in this book by Honnold's cutie pie deflections when he is cajoled by the media to explain why he does what he does. That whole shruggymcshrugshrug narrative is beat to death, even in 234 brief page ...more
S.A. Klopfenstein
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Probably 4.5 for the new edition with Honnold's account of his free solo of El Cap.

I really enjoyed the film Free Solo, and I wanted more. And this book provides a lot more. The accounts of Alex's quick rise from nowhere in the climbing community, and the accounts of his most famous ascents (not all free solos), were all interesting and often pretty hard to put down. He's one of the most interesting athletes in any sport, in my opinion, from his incredible climbs, to his intense motivation and t
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Fun and readable, though accounts of the various climbs tend to blend together after a while, and there doesn't seem to be any larger point or much introspection going on -- the book documents Alex Honnold's exploits, and then ends. It's about half in Honnold's own words and half written in the third person by author and former climber David Roberts. The last few chapters detail the events of the documentary Free Solo from Honnold's point of view, which you'll find interesting if you've seen the ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this snapshot of Alex Honnold’s recent exploits especially his first-ever free solo of El Cap. Also very interested to read the detailed explanations of his two falls in 2017. “Free Solo” treated them much differently than how Alex writes about them in the book.

His emotions shine through his prose both about climbing and Sanni. Despite his “No Big Deal” monniker, his true feelings lie right beneath the surface and shimmer on the page.

Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Alex and Dave Roberts but, evidently, writing about climbing isn't that easy. Reading pitch numbers isn't too descriptive for anyone other than climbers and even then you don't really get a picture of the places that Alex goes.

The personal information makes the book a worthwhile read and Alex is a fascinating dude.
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read, thought provoking.

Great read on a topic I didn't consider myself too interested in. I found the discussion of pushing ones limits and mortality mindfulness enough of a pull to keep going. I'm in the camp of folks who'll take a much more safe path towards seeing just what I'm capable of. No clue why, no excuses, no apologies.
Will Martin
Great climbing book - very descriptive and 'gripping'. I was hoping for it to be more philosophical since Honald lives so close to the edge, but he seems to be in denial or just ambivalent about the prospect. I also found him to be a bit 'bro-y', which was a bit off putting. Nonetheless, never read anything like this before and very glad I read it.
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Alex Honnold is a world-class American rock climber best known for his free solo ascents of big walls.
“There is no adrenaline rush. If I get an adrenaline rush, it means that something has gone horribly wrong.” 8 likes
“In a real sense, I performed the hard work of that free solo during the days leading up to it. Once I was on the climb, it was just a matter of executing. The” 5 likes
More quotes…