Local climbers react to ‘Free Solo’ win at the Oscars

Local News

Going from climbing in the western wilderness to the getting all dapper to take the stage at the Academy Awards was an unexpected route for Alex Honnold, who’s a rock climbing phenom who is the subject of an incredible documentary.

Honnold lives in Las Vegas, but on Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscar for best documentary feature went to the minds behind Free Solo, a film that took audiences to new heights.

Free Solo centers around Honnold and his incredible feat of scaling the famous El Capitan Rock Face at Yosemite National Park; the 3,000-foot climb was done without ropes.

Andy Raether co-owns Origin Climbing in Henderson. He’s been on a few climbs with Honnold, and he says he takes soloing to a whole new level.

“You go into that movie having the imagination and the feelings of worst-case scenario; like I started crying during the movie a couple of times,” said Raether. “He makes it as much calculated risk as possible, and it’s just terrifying.”

But, Honnold’s risk turned into a big reward during the Oscars on Sunday night.

According to Raether, he’s proud the film is bringing the sport of climbing into the spotlight.

“It’s really cool to see a climbing movie get that far in the film world, and then get the biggest thing you can possibly get for it,” Raether said.

While others who have climbed with Honnold say the film gives the world a glimpse into what is often a private project.

“Alex comes here and trains sometimes,” said Raymond Rainsberger, works at Red Rock Climbing Center.  “Soloing is kind of a really personal thing for climbers. You tell somebody you solo, they think you’re crazy because you can die; you will die if you fall, so I think it’s pretty brave of him to put that out there.”

Even though climbing on rock walls like the ones seen at indoor rock climbing venues isn’t exactly free soloing, local business owners can’t help but hope the Oscar-winning movie will get more people interested in joining in on the indoor rock climbing fun.

“It would be nice to see people catch on and go, ‘that looks like a really interesting sport, now I’m going to do something that’s less crazy, and check it out just for fun,'” Raether said.

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