Why the finger board was important for Alex Honnold's solo visit

Black Diamond athlete Alex Honnold talks about his training schedule and why hang-up was so important for his solo visit to El Cap.

An article by Chris Parker

Imagine you have just completed the brazen and craziest free solo ascent in the history of climbing and conquered the 900 meter high El Cap without a rope. And now the media hype is raging. You can hardly save yourself from interview requests from well-known magazines such as NPR, Nat Geo and the News York Times. Still: for an hour this afternoon you have something more important to do and you won't be available. No, you are not meeting with the President of the United States and you have no film date either. You have a date with your hangboard. Alex Honnold - Training Hangboard Picture ZVg Black Diamond

Believe it or not, Black Diamond athlete Alex Honnold celebrated his rope-free ascent of the legendary Freerider route on El Cap (LACRUX reported). In a later interview with a magazine, Honnold stated soberly: "I want to train on the hangboard every other day, and it was just the second day."

With discipline to success

But this statement holds the key to Honnold's success. One of the most uninhibited climbers in the world doesn't just rely on his obviously great talent. He trains with considerable discipline in order to perfect his skills. And when it comes to hangboarding, he doesn't compromise. Honnold almost turns his training on his Beastmaker 2000 hangboard, which is attached to the door frame of his expanded ProMaster, into a religion.

Why train on the fretboard when you have time for rock climbing?

“I actually count myself among the 8b climbers,” said Honnold on the phone as he rested on the summit of El Cap. “But in the last two months I climbed a maximum of 7c +. All I did was wind one pitch at a time through a large, slightly sloping crack. Hangboarding helped me not to lose too much of my finger strength. "

Alex Honnold training at the beastmaker - Picture ZVg of Black Diamond
Alex Honnold training at the beastmaker in his camper (picture zVg Black Diamond).

Were the hangboard workouts the key to free-soloing freeriders?

"It was definitely very important," says Honnold in an interview. “Otherwise I would have felt weaker and weaker during my stay here in the Valley. And the key point with the bouldering problem (about 7a +) consists of small handles that you have to pull yourself up on. ”Honnold says that he used the Beastmaker app during the two months of preparation time for the ascent. The app contains so-called benchmark workouts, which Honnold considers extremely difficult.

Alex Honnold was on the 7b training level before his free-solo ascent

"It's embarrassing how weak I am on the Beastmaker," he laughs. “Two months ago I failed the 6c workout, even though it's the easiest of them all. I could hardly believe it. ”Before he set out for his epic free solo ascent at the foot of El Cap, he had improved to a 7b workout. "I thought - crazy, I can now master a Beastmaker 7a +!" According to Honnold, the workouts are extremely demanding and significantly more difficult than the actual climbing routes in the respective degree. He trains without additional weight. "No need. The workouts are way too difficult for me even without weight, ”he emphasizes.

Alex has never climbed a real 8c +

Although the hangboard was an important tool in preparation for his largest ascent to date, the training continues. Honnold's new goal is to keep improving in sport climbing. “I've always wanted to climb 9a, but I've never devoted enough time and energy to this goal,” he says. "I haven't climbed a real 8c + either, at least not in the last few years, and now I want to climb harder routes." And the strict hangboard routine is part of this plan.

Honnold's goal: climbing 9a

"It's strange, because even though it's not that much of an 9a to climb by today's standards, I'm going to be pretty proud of myself if I can do that. And if I ever climb a route to that degree, I'll pat myself on the back and say - hey, I'm really good. "

Below is a translated excerpt from Honnold's Hangboard Workouts.

6c workout 7b workout
(1) 4 finger 1 / 2 angled (1) 4 finger 1 / 2 set up
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest 7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
(2) 4 fingers open (2) 4 fingers open
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest 7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
(3) 3 fingers open (3) 3 fingers open
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest 7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
(4) 4 fingers open (4) 4 Finger halfway up
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest 7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
(5) Medium 2 Finger (Pocket) (5) Medium 2 Finger (Pocket)
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest 7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
(6) First 2 Finger (Bag) (6) Last 2 Finger (Bag)
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest 7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
Repetitions 1-6 (7) First 2 Finger (Bag)
7x 7 sec. hang / 3 sec. rest
Repetitions 1-7

 

4 finger 1 / 2 angled
Finger 1 / 2 angled
4 fingers open
4 fingers open
3 fingers open
3 fingers open
Middle 2 fingers
Middle 2 fingers
First 2 fingers
First 2 fingers
4 finger 1 / 2 set up
4 finger 1 / 2 set up
Last 2 fingers
Last 2 fingers

 

Credits: Pictures by Black Diamond, text by Chris Parker

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