The Impossible Climb

The Impossible Climb : Alex Honnold, El Capitan and the Climbing Life

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Shortlisted for Adventure Travel Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2020

On June 3rd 2017, professional climber Mark Synnott was in Yosemite to witness something that only a handful of people knew was about to occur: his friend, Alex Honnold, was going to attempt to summit one of the world's most challenging ascents, a route called Freerider on the notorious rock formation El Capitan. It is an extraordinarily dangerous and difficult climb, and yet Alex was going to do it 'free solo'. Meaning no help. No partner. No equipment. No rope. Where a single small mistake would mean certain death. Indeed, to summit El Cap free solo was a feat likened to Neil Armstrong first walking on the moon.

As Alex plots, rehearses and ultimately attempts his heart-stopping ascent, Mark also shares his own personal history of climbing, filled with triumphs, defeats and dilemmas, in this deeply reported, inspiring exhortation to live life to the fullest.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 31mm | 394g
  • St Leonards, Australia
  • English
  • Main
  • 2 x 8pp colour plates
  • 1760632732
  • 9781760632731
  • 44,512

Table of contents

Part One: Youth 1: "The Hon Is Going to Solo El Cap" 2: Crazy Kids of America 3: A Vision of the Stonemasters' Lightning 4: The Stone Monkey Part Two: The Professional World 5: Crashing the Gravy Train on the Vertical Mile 6: The Secret Weapon, Mr. Safety, and Xiao Pung 7: Nonprofit 8: Secret Dawn Walls Part Two: Topping Out 9: Amygdala 10: The Source 11: "Her Attitude Is Awesome" 12: Fun
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Review quote

Synnott, with the skill of a master craftsman, weaves into this text stories about Alex's climbing. . . . fascinating reading. . . . Synnott uses his experience both as a climber and as a writer to paint an incredible canvas. The Impossible Climb is not to be missed. -- Keith Sharples * Climber * Fast paced and enjoyable. * Wall Street Journal * An accomplished portrait of two remarkable lives * New York Times Book Review * Yes, The Impossible Climb is the gripping story of the most perilous rock ascent of all time - but it's much more than that. In seamlessly fusing memoir, reporting, social history, climbing lore, technical expertise and intimate glimpses of his tribe, Mark Synnott has given us a kind of epic of life on the edge. Even readers who have never set toe to rock are going to find themselves glued to this insanely brilliant account of extreme athletic ambition and endurance. -- David Laskin, author of THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD Mark Synnott's The Impossible Climb is to climbing what William Finnegan's Barbarian Days is to surfing. -- John Long, writer, producer, and pioneer of 'free solo' rock climbing Immensely enjoyable. Tapping his own impressive mountaineering resume, Mark Synnott dives deep into the rebellious counterculture of extreme climbing to get inside the head of Alex Honnold, the planet's foremost rock climber. What motivated Honnold to free climb El Capitan without a rope? "Because it's there" doesn't come close to explaining it. Synnott's The Impossible Climb does. -- Andy Hall, author of DENALI'S HOWL With the possible exception of the lunar landings, free-soloing El Capitan may rank as one of the most audacious--and terrifying--things a human being has ever done. Synnott's narrative plasters you to a 3,000-foot granite cliff and doesn't let you go until the climb is done. It is one of the most compelling accounts of a climb and the climbing ethos that I've ever read. -- Sebastian Junger, author of THE PERFECT STORM An enthralling new book. Few sports have as rich and varied a literature as climbing...and this gripping work from the vastly experienced mountaineer and adventurer Mark Synnott is a magnificent addition to the canon...This compelling book reads like a thriller as it ranges over the rarefied world of extreme climbing. * Daily Mail *
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About Mark Synnott

Mark Synnott is widely regarded as one of the most prolific adventurers of his generation. He has written for publications including Outside, Men's Journal, New York, Skiing, Climbing Magazine, Rock and Ice and Ascent among others. Today he works almost exclusively for National Geographic Magazine. He lives in New Hampshire.
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