Alex Honnold interview after Dan Osman speed solo tribute on Bear's Reach
American rock climber Alex Honnold teams up with planetmountain.com to talk about his recent reenactment of Dan Osman’s famous speed solo up the climb 'Bear's Reach' at Lover's Leap, California, USA
At the start of December 2016 a short video entitled "Alex Honnold Solos Lover's Leap in Dan Osman Tribute" clocked up almost 200,000 views 48 hours. Understandably so: Alex Honnold is one of the world’s most popular rock climbers, while during the 90’s Dan Osman made a name for himself for hard first ascents - such as Slayer 5.13d in 1990 at Cave Rock - and above all for his remarkable free solos, bridge jumping and long rope jumps. "DanO" featured in Eric Perlman's classic rock climbing film series Masters of Stone on various occasions, and is possibly best known for his speed solo up the 5.7 trad multi-pitch Bear’s Reach at Lover's Leap near Lake Tahoe in California. The route gets its name from an enormous reach between two good holds, which Osman does with a two-handed dyno completely solo, and this footage became a cult scene well before Osman’s untimely death in 1998 while making a long rope jump from Leaning Tower in Yosemite. Honnold’s recent reenactment of Osman’s feat certainly puts "the rock back in rock climbing!" as Corey Rich, who filmed the ascent, stated, but more explanation was needed. And not only because Honnold bettered Osman’s time from 4:25 to 4:15.
Alex, first off: what did Dan represent to you?
I thought he was amazing when I was growing up. I never quite looked up to him the same way as John Bachar or Peter Croft, but in some ways he was a more accessible hero. Some of the first hard sport routes I ever tried outside were his routes at Cave Rock. I grew up 2 hours away from him so he was more of a local hero.
How long did you toy with the idea of repeating this feat?
I'd thought about trying to speed solo Bear's Reach for years but always thought that Dano's time was impossibly fast. But as it turns out his time isn't actually that fast - he just looks crazy fast in the footage because it was done in tons of takes over a few days.
So how many times did you have to rehearse it before breaking the record?
I actually did my time of 4:15 a few years ago on a random day while I was driving by. I climbed the route 4 times that day, each time I'd go up as fast as I could and then down climb it slowly. 4:15 was my last burn and then I called it good.The day we filmed I only climbed the whole route once and did it in probably about 5 minutes. We spent our time filming the different sections piece by piece (the same way Dano did).
How did the idea of the film come about?
I often have people asking me for video ideas for sponsors and things. This was one of the few that was 100% my idea - something we filmed entirely because I wanted to. I loved that old clip from Masters of Stone and wanted to recreate it somehow. Corey Rich (the film maker) came up with the wig and band and all the comedy aspects.
This film was done for commercial purposes. We realize this is well below your operating level, but is there a risk you might get yourself into situations that perhaps you’d prefer not to be in?
There was no risk or pressure with the filming since I'd already done the fast time years before. We were just out to film. It was super fun.
You broke Dan’s record. Was this important?
Well not so important in the grand scheme of things. And I think it'd be easy to go sub 4 minutes if someone was motivated. I'll probably try it again someday. But it was satisfying, just because in the film of him climbing he always seemed so superhumanly fast. It's cool to do something that was so inspiring to me personally.
You didn’t do the famous two-handed dyno ;-)
I thought about it and did the move many different ways, but ultimately I just hate jumping. Especially ropeless.