Alex Honnold in this lengthy profile by Esquire:
“No, I am [proud], I guess, but that’s what I do. I’m a climber. Everyone’s got their thing. I could never hit 30 free throws in a row, but a basketball player would think that was trivial.”
LeBron James doesn’t die if he misses, I tell him. Free soloing and free throws aren’t the same. One takes courage. It’s like his fans say on his comment threads: “It must be hard, climbing with balls that big”.
He grins. “The balls part is true. They are pretty freaking huge. But I wouldn’t say courage. Courage is doing something that you don’t want to do, like a soldier. I want to be halfway up a mountain. I think it’s awesome.”
I couldn’t agree more. To me words like courage or hero or brave have no real place when describing the actions of climbers.
On the subject of free soloing, The Stone Mind has an insightful post today on this very topic:
…I admittedly feel a sadness at the thought of losing my friends and acquaintances. But the memento mori reminds us of our shared and universal fate. When we lose site of this, it becomes all to easy to imagine ourselves living forever, or that our success and wealth will somehow shield us from mortality. Death is the ultimate context, and we must live and act accordingly, whatever that means for each of us.