Masterful ascent in Mexico

Honnold free solos 5.12 route at El Potrero Chico

Elizabeth Miller

Renowned free-solo climber Alex Honnold has quietly bagged
yet another astounded climb, this time, traveling south to meet the warmer
weather in Mexico. Honnold recently completed the 1,500-foot 5.12 route “El
Sendero Luminoso”
in the limestone cliffs of El Potrero Chico in Northern Mexico. Most of the
sustained route’s 15 pitches earn a 5.12-level rating, and it dips no lower
than 5.10.

Climbers typically take two days to complete the route, the name of
which translates to “The Shining Path.” Honnold finished his ascent in three

On The North Face blog, climber Cedar Wright, who partnered
with Honnold to climb the route four times to clean it and memorize its moves,
said, “Mostly I just tried not to think about him soloing the route while I was
up there with him because it was so terrifying. Alex will downplay the
achievement, but I can assure you this is one of the most cutting edge big-wall
solos of all time.”

He described the route as often offering little more than a
few millimeters for fingers and toes to grip enough to stay on the wall.

Honnold has free-soloed Zion’s Moonlight Buttress (also
5.12), as well as routes on Yosemite’s El Capitan, Mt. Watkins and Half Dome —
completing “The Triple,” all three routes, in a single day in 2012 with minimal

Of the “El Sendero Luminoso” solo, Honnold told The North
Face, “It felt pretty straight forward. It is definitely a lot different than
soloing a granite big wall where you are plugged into cracks and there are only
a few sections where you have to remember the moves. … Once I started up, I was
like; this is awesome. I didn’t blow a single foot … like a ballerina.”

Read the complete post on The North Face Never Stop
Exploring blog here.