[Note: This review of "First Ascent: Alone on the Wall" initially appeared with reviews of "Finding Farley" and "Samsara" -- the second of four sets of reviews for The Union newspaper.]
When I was about 20 years old, I jumped out of an airplane.The parachute opened in a few seconds. I floated to earth.Many people said I was nuts to do it.
Let me tell you about nuts. Let me tell you about Alex Honnold, whose insanity is chronicled in the film “First Ascent: Alone on the Wall.”Compared with this 24 year old, my jumping out of an airplane rates about a two out of one hundred on the nuts scale.
Forget that parachute jump of mine, the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done in my life.Compared with what big wall climber Alex Honnold has done, other big wall climbers rate about a two out of one hundred on the nuts scale.
Watch Honnold climb Half Dome, almost 2000 feet of essentially vertical wall in Yosemite National Park.Watch him do what’s called a free-solo climb.That means WITHOUT ANY EQUIPMENT (all-capital-letter shouting required).Is it possible that Honnold isn’t going to die if he keeps challenging his free-solo limits? The film also shows him the year before, scaling the 1150-foot wall called Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park.
Honnold seems so boyish and poised and confident and matter of fact.
Though the filmmaking and storytelling is a bit ordinary in “First Ascent: Alone on the Wall,” it can’t help but grab awed attention.