Alex Honnold & Peter Croft Video Interview

Live video interviews seems to be all the rage these days1, and this interview with Alex Honnold and Peter Croft is one that is well worth watching.

Video streaming by Ustream

  1. It just so happens that I’m doing one one tonight with Jason Kehl and Rob D’Anastasio

Posted In: Interviews
Climbers: ,


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  1. jay

    Very interesting interview, but Croft in particular seems to have a tenuous grasp of his modus operandi. In places, he takes pains to tout the safety of free soloing, in terms of a heightened focus (awareness of the so called "no fall zone") generated by lack of reliance upon external safety devices like ropes, etc. Additionally, he notes that roped climbers "solo" (prior to first cliff, above a ledge) and there are less distractions with soloing (in terms of partners, rope management, gear, etc.). All this presumably supports the claim that hard soloing is a fairly safe activity, at least for some.

    However, Croft repeatedly states that he solos because he "can't hold himself back" from the activity. He states that he even tries to hold himself back (but fails) If soloing for Croft is relatively safe, why would he have any desire whatsoever to keep himself away from an activity that is so extraordinarily fulfilling . . . and safe? By this reasoning, one would think he would never have the urge to desist from solo climbing.

    Older living hard soloists like Croft (and I know there aren't too many) should simply admit that what they do and have done is extremely dangerous, that they are rather lucky to currently be alive, and that the number of hard solos one does increases the probability that one will die soloing. The only other option would be they would have died soloing already and wouldn't be around to offer ad hoc justification for their good fortune.


  2. grog

    I read Croft as saying that it was safe only when he felt so strongly about it that he couldn't hold himself back, that for a hard solo that was part of the requirement. In other words, if your fear or anything else is holding you back in any way, it's probably unwise to solo that particular route. I think it sounds like a good personal barometer to help inform what is actually safe for you personally, at least within the bounds of what you can actually control. To me it would be the last phase, after I had answered all other relevant questions regarding skill/difficulty/conditions/etc. That being said, I personally find soloing generally too risky, having only done very little and not really planning on any more. My fear usually makes me second guess myself. These guys clearly have a different comfort level. Cool to hear how they think about it.

  3. grog

    I wanted to add that I think the way they approach this is a good model for how to approach anything committing, not just things involving death either. Just a big fan of both guys, really. smile

  4. jay

    I see what you're saying and yeah, I friggin' love Croft too. Interviews certainly put you on the spot . . . anyhow, his "job" isn't to justify what he does, rather, just to do awesome climbs and solos.

    My main observations are that one would think that Croft would recognize that (i) due to objective dangers and zero error tolerance, hard soloing is inherently risky (with risk being a relational concept, it's certainly far riskier than most roped trad climbing which is fairly risky as well) and (ii) he has had some good fortune in his career to not be on the wrong end of factors beyond his control. Finally, I just think it would be cool for someone to admit that to some degree, luck has sorta been on his/her side.


  5. HeMan

    That story Croft told though...
    Holy balls was that incredible. Worth watching for that alone, although Crofts soloing philosophy and the dynamics between the two were interesting. Honnold's reaction to Croft's story was priceless

  6. WellDone

    Jay, you should be reading about The Gambler's Fallacy and its inverse. Probability does not have "memory" and contrary to ordinary belief, does not accumulate.

  7. jay

    In all due respect WellDone, I must tell you, not so well done.

    Any worthy sex addict would likely admit that the more people she sleeps with, the better chance she stands of getting the herp someday (even if the odds are the same in each individual liason). Same goes for drunk drinking and DUI's, you do it enough, you're probably gonna get caught someday.

    I know all about the gamblers fallacy. I didn't assert that in each instance of soloing, the climber stands a higher chance of dying on that particular solo (this*would* be committing the gamblers fallacy). My point is that the more you play the game, the better the chance you have at losing (in an aggregate sense). This has everything to do with the law of large numbers, not the gamblers fallacy.

    You play Russian Roulette with a 6 chamber revolver with one bullet one time and you stand a decent chance of living. Play the game ten plus times and you are likely a goner.

    Potentially fatal objective hazards in rock climbing may be relatively rare/infrequent. However, place yourself in situations where you are vulnerable to them repeatedly and your chance of encountering one increases (and relevantly, all it takes is one such encounter in free solo climbing). Of course, this is not even considering potential fail factors that can be attributed to performance error (fatigue, poor decision making/judgment, etc).


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