Scaling the heights with solo rock star

  • Man versus mountain: Free Solo tells the story of Alex Honnold’s attempt to climb El Capitán cliff face in Yosemite, California (Photograph supplied)

    Man versus mountain: Free Solo tells the story of Alex Honnold’s attempt to climb El Capitán cliff face in Yosemite, California (Photograph supplied)


A Bermuda rock climber talked yesterday about his experience of an ascent with a top free soloist and star of an Oscar-winning documentary to be shown today.

The Bermuda International Film Festival is to feature Free Solo, the story of Alex Honnold, who climbs alone and without ropes and his attempt to become the first climber to solo climb the 3,200ft El Capitán cliff face in Yosemite, California.

Grant Farquhar, author of Climb de Rock, a climber’s guide to Bermuda, said Mr Honnold was “like a monk” and totally focused on his work.

Dr Farquhar, a psychiatrist, said: “Alex does not drink or smoke, just climbs.

“I will definitely be watching that documentary at some point. There’s also a great book about it called The Impossible Climb.”

Dr Farquhar is originally from Scotland and has climbed since childhood. He climbed with Mr Honnold at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset in Britain six years ago, along with friend Hazel Findlay.

He said: “El Capitán is one of the most impressive climbs on the planet. It’s one of the biggest monoliths in the world.

“So Cheddar Gorge was not the most inspiring thing for Alex, coming from sun-drenched California.”

The daredevil climber’s story has been brought to the island as part of Biff’s series of art house, foreign, documentary and independent films, shown on the first Wednesday of each month.

The film, which premiered last year at the Telluride Film Festival, shows the planning and execution of Mr Honnold’s hair-raising ascent.

Two months ago, Dr Farquhar published his own guide to Bermuda’s climbing scene, which is on sale at the Bermuda Bookstore in Hamilton.

He climbs several times a week and said Admiralty House, Pembroke is his summer favourite, with Great Head in St David’s — Bermuda’s biggest cliff — the choice in winter.

Dr Farquhar said: “Bermuda’s unique for climbing. There’s nowhere else like it, especially when you’re climbing above crystal-clear water.”

The story of Mr Honnold’s ascent of the granite monolith El Capitán, a Mecca for climbers, is scheduled to screen at 6.30pm in the Speciality Cinema in Hamilton.

Tickets to Free Solo are available at ptix.bm, as well as in advance as the cinema’s box office, and tonight.

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Published May 1, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated May 1, 2019 at 8:07 am)

Scaling the heights with solo rock star

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