'Free Solo' film about El Capitan conquest gets TV debut


PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Makers of the “Free Solo” documentary about Alex Honnold’s unaided climb up the rock face of Yosemite’s El Capitan say they would have still made the film if Honnold had slipped and fell to his death.

Film editor Bob Eisenhardt said Friday the possibility had been discussed. He said that he believed the film would have been completed to honor Honnold’s memory.

“We were going to make it either way,” he said at a news conference where The National Geographic network said “Free Solo” will make its television debut March 3. It will be shown without commercials.

The pulse-pounding film about his quest has been nominated for an Academy Award and been a box office smash in a strong year for documentaries, second only to “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” in earnings.

Honnold achieved his remarkable feat in just under four hours in June 2017. Without ropes or harnesses, he climbed using his chalk-dried hands and climbing shoes, grabbing onto cracks and crevasses. The danger is obvious in the sweeping views.

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Hannold practiced for two years prior to his climb. One particularly challenging spot, known as the Boulder Problem that required some dexterity, he practiced some 50 or 60 times and thought about all the time, he said.

As a result, he said he believed the alternatives were more between success and stopping short of the summit.

“I think the chances of me falling to my death were extremely low, which is why I tried doing it,” he said.

The film also turned unexpectedly into a love story, chronicling his relationship with Sanni McCandless, who he met when she attended a book signing in Seattle. They’re still together.

He’s still climbing, too. But he considered El Capitan the ultimate challenge, and he hasn’t settled on a next step.

“Maybe something will inspire me,” he said.

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