Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin | Before Free Solo (Full Episode) – Video

Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin | Before Free Solo (Full Episode) – Video

National Geographic’s Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin presents a fascinating journey into the mind and motivations of world-renowned alpinist Alex Honnold. The full episode, titled Before Free Solo, captures Honnold’s desire to climb huge walls in Morocco without a rope, setting the stage for one of the greatest big wall free solos in history.

As we follow Honnold and his climbing partner Tommy Caldwell on their daring adventure in Morocco, we witness the physical and mental challenges they face, along with the exhilarating moments of triumph as they push the limits of what’s humanly possible.

The episode offers a rare glimpse into the world of free solo climbing, where the line between triumph and tragedy is razor-thin. Honnold’s preparation and training for this monumental feat are laid bare, shedding light on the sheer determination and unwavering focus required to take on such a daunting challenge.

Through stunning cinematography and compelling storytelling, Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin delivers an immersive and thrilling experience that captures the essence of adventure and exploration. For those who seek to venture past the edge of what’s possible, this episode is an absolute must-see.

Join National Geographic in this gripping exploration of the unknown and witness the incredible stories of those who dare to defy gravity and rewrite the rules of what’s achievable. With Edge of the Unknown, viewers are transported to the heart of the action and get closer to the stories that matter most.

Watch the video by National Geographic

Video Transcript

And we’re off I’m treading lightly my toes are kind of hurting slightly more pumped than I would have liked which is one of the classic ways to yourself when you’re sing when you’re on a quest to redefine what’s humanly possible the line between Triumph and tragedy is Razor thin I’m

Jimmy chin from Mount Everest to Antarctica I’ve had the privilege of sharing Adventures alongside the world’s most daring athletes in the pivotal moments when life hangs in the balance what drives the greatest to keep pushing to stare down fear to risk everything these are the stories from the edge of the

Unknown to be on the side of a cliff without a rope totally untethered you know free feels pretty freaking next level free soling is the ultimate test of climing that’s when it’s all on the line and that’s the challenge of doing something that hasn’t been done before

Is how do you know that you’re ready I’ve known Alex hanold for years he’s climbed the biggest walls on the planet without a rope pushing the limits of what’s possible I was there when he free soloed the 3000t alc Capitan in yuse Valley California this was a climb so

Futuristic and Visionary that not even the top climbers in the world were daring to think about it how does someone prepare to do the impossible I had been dreaming of free selling o cap forever the psychological challenge felt so vast and if you feel really scared thinking

About it then you’re you’re probably not prepared enough I felt that Morocco would be a perfect practice ground to get one step closer to freeing alab Morocco it’s off the map no one would know about it this was a place where he could test himself both physically and mentally with a massive

Amount of climbing and then he he wanted to free solo one of the big walls at the end of the trip he knew that the route that he’d chosen would be one of the greatest big wall free solos in history I can’t wait to S all this stuff

I’m so curious if we can actually make these walls feel smaller you know yeah there’s baby goats halfway up the first pitch that’s really cute Tommy was really the only possible partner for the training that I was hoping to do in Morocco we just like to climb with

Somebody who climbs so fast like so amazing Tommy is one of the best climbers in the world when I started climbing he was already a hero in the climbing world and I looked up to him my entire life I think Alex and I just felt like

If we got together and climbed we could do stuff that we couldn’t do on our own and from there it evolved into this very close friendship they’re only going to bring five long and so knowing that he had this giant objective my role just became to help him survive essentially

Yeah it was one of the on Tommy didn’t want Alex to free solo but he knew that Alex was going to go do it anyways so Tommy decides that the best way that he can support his friend is to train with him doing something that dangerous is really about having full confidence that

You will be successful Alex wanted to push himself with a huge endurance challenge a triple link up to climb three of the biggest walls in tajio with Tommy in one day it would be the equivalent of running three back-to-back marathons at a world record pace so

What’s your guess on time 22 hours 22 I think like 500 a.m. top out that means that we’d be doing 21 hour link up that’s my prediction all right let’s see who’s closest okay La good to go these big walls are extraordinarily technical this is 512 513 terrain a

Rating of difficulty that really only a world class climber can climb remember s of not really loving this pitch I don’t remember this pitch hardly at all my finger slipped but it was a hard move the hardest move on the RO I knew Alex was going to free solo one

Of the roots we were climbing together thinking about being up there that high off the ground without a rope that’s a terrifying thought there we go nice dude so fun climbing like that pretty solid it did 6 and a half it’s pretty sick to think that

Tommy’s about to climb all the way past the shade up there in this first block like look how freaking far that is oh Skin’s a little more tender than the last we it’s much harder to climb sharp limestone in full sunlight your fingers are sweating more which makes your skin softer which makes

The rock cut your skin more we had to climb very delicately make sure we grabbed these razor sharp holds and pulled on them as little as possible and you’re also trying to stand on these tiny little edges very precise small movements with your feet the rubber gets really hot and it

Basically Cooks your feet it’s just hard to cover these guys cuz basically they’re the fastest guys in the world on this Terrain say you might have worn out the film crew you might get a day without a film crew then be awesome okay let’s go climb Another

Mountain oh yeah more the Sun going away is a welcome reprieve where you’re like oh thank God we’re not getting cooked anymore but the hard part in the dark is navigating you never quite know if you’re going the right direction I’m to my foot is totally numb right here that’s that’s

What I was saying oh I really want this rout to go easily and quickly yeah all right dude wa for the nice lap huh when you’re pretty exhausted and it’s dark it’s easy to start making some mistakes hey guys I see them they’re already like up

There we were many many hours into a link up it was dark and we were quite tired your headlamp illuminates like a 10t bubble around you so that’s your entire world and you just exist in that 10ft bubble in some ways that can actually be sort of

Centering but you still have to be able to find the route yeah oh a man I’m getting the like release in my feet after taking off my shoes that was a lot of rock climbing I can C at the end of the triple you’re both exhausted and then I was planning on

Spending one more week so that I could do a big solo project I don’t free solo at all this is what it is I’m willing to do things that I might like end up you know pretty maimed but I really really try and stay away from things that where I’m just

Going to totally Splat it’s pretty like thin distinction it’s all very loose hly but I absolutely understand understand the appeal of it like emotionally that’s how I feel logically I’m like I should never do that yeah maybe you got to just go with the emotions sometime I’m just go do

It those are the things where I’m like as a father I can’t do that you know it’s got to be logic not emotion you think yeah looking back on Morocco there’s just this level of angst and turmoil I felt like I should be training harder I should be climbing more I

Should be doing more you know because I had this huge goal in front of me and I was just like I just didn’t know if I was ready and felt like I should be doing more doing More my next challenge was to free sell reier pre to a lay person they look at a big wall and they’re like that looks insane they assume that I just walk up to a cliff and just climb it with no you know planning no path no no anything but the

Reality is couldn’t be further from the truth a lot of people think Alex is a free soloist he must throw risk to the wind he doesn’t care but actually he’s one of the most calculated people I know everything that he does it’s so methodical and intentional how long have you been them

How long going to be on the mountain mhm I don’t hopefully less than 4 hours oh really okay so like on the, 1500t they’re basically like 40 ft of climbing scattered throughout different sections that I want to figure out okay watching Alex prepare is hugely inspiring he’s meticulous about how he approaches

It it’s about the climbing and it’s about managing the fear it’s about struggling with doubt to do something that’s never been done before it’s not always obvious which parts will be easy or hard when you take the Rope away so I practiced the route with a little bit more intentional mind

Towards the free solo just spend some time thinking about what will actually be scary or not the Crux pitch of rier ppre was the hardest part it’s about 1,000 ft off the ground and when I had first climbed this route I had fallen off that pitch that it’s

Pretty steep kind of small holes in big reaches I was concerned about that pitch Le Rivier ppre in Morocco would be considered one of the greatest free solos in history and I think when you have a superpower it’s really hard not to use it but it was Heavy the route required Precision

Climbing one mistake and he dies I remember Alex and Tommy saying goodbye to each other and I could see it in in Tommy’s face the hug might have been a little bit longer and you know it’s one of those goodbyes that was knowing that you know Tommy might never see Alex again

It doesn’t feel good to make your friends and family worry about you which is why most of my free solong is normally in private so that you don’t put that burden on anybody else it felt very different than most free solos cameras made it slightly harder

But I also knew that was a good way to prepare myself for harder things down the road shooting a big wallf free solo was terrifying you know we spent days rigging on the route trying to imagine someone climbing it without a rope would made us very

Nervous I definitely feel fear I mean if I didn’t feel fear I wouldn’t have to do all the prep work I would just go up and do the route the correct way to manage fear I think is to gradually broaden your comfort zone until your comfort zone includes things that seemed previously

Impossible I’m treading lightly some climbers remember like every movement of every route I’m definitely not gifted like that I knew the hardest parts pretty well but the rest of it was all a bit of a question mark slightly more pumped than I would have liked a lot of the lower climbing I was

Thinking about about it as I did it like do I grab this one or is this secure is it that foot or this other foot should I try a different foot I got my finger stuck in one of the pockets which is one of the classic ways to yourself when you’re

Soling in retrospect maybe I could have given it another day or two of prep Work I’m slightly over gripping like I’m holding on too tightly which is why my feet are sort of tense when I move them I don’t place them smoothly and quietly I’m like moving sort of Helter Skelter do you hear that it’s off to the left sounds exactly like someone is

Yelling Alex over and over they’re like climbers behind me highliners on the other side so I can Sandy up here normally when you’re freeing you’re totally alone in some incredible environment but as I was free soling I kept hearing this weird yelling it was just this crazy french

Guy dangling from a tight RPP in the middle of the canyon and he kept yelling at himself like Al Al oh the guy just whipped holy huh and then he would fall off and then he would bounce on the rope and then you try to get back up and then you fall off

And I remember that it made the whole thing feel a little bit more like a circus in this case with most climbers with ropes the whole point is to fail over and over and over until you eventually succeed in something uh but you know with free soing projects that’s

Totally off the table you have to make sure you never fail and just do the thing that you’re trying to do first try just got to climb one more pitch when I get into the difficult climbing like it doesn’t matter what’s going on around me I’m just Climbing which really is part of the appeal of fre Solin you know is that level of focus the Crux pitch of rier pre is just this overhanging panel up high on the wall it’s more fatiguing than the other pitches because the angle kicks back and because it’s steep fatigue

Builds as you climb it your arms start to get quite tired as you go but that’s why Tommy and I had done the triple ahead of time to prepare I knew that my fitness was high enough that it wouldn’t matter that the hard part was at the top oh

Yeah I got myself like a like a B minus like an8 out of 10 I guess so it wasn’t your funest Sol no no but you know that’s just part of it sometimes you just got to be able to perform I remember thinking he looked noticeably disappointed he wasn’t happy with the

Fact that he felt scared on the route and he felt jittery not smooth and he knew that that would not work on elap but getting used to having a film crew shooting him on a long climb like that helped prepare his mindset for when we were shooting on

Alap well shall we do another one he’s got the post solo glow he does whatever you can say about today you definitely still have the post solo glow you did just climb a 512 big wall without a rope compared to elap the preparation that I put in for re gray

Was pretty minimal you know I climbed it a couple times and then I did one day of direct preparation whereas with elcap I spent 18 months or so practicing for the solo when I left Morocco I was in the the best shape of my life I just done each of the hard

Challenges that IID set for myself so like confidence was high when I was showing up in Us in the best possible shape he’s moving fast I mean that’s like one of the most exposed moves like anywhere on El Cap Alex is having the best day of his life oh god

Wow oh my goodness oh my God I can’t believe what I just witnessed oh God you oh good to see you again Alex’s free solo ofel cap will go down as the greatest rock climbing accomplishment in history what a journey yeah this was a generation defining climb the moon landing of

Climbing the reality is that I likely will never work on anything to that scale again just because I don’t know if any specific climb will ever mean as much to me as as elap did whether or not that will eventually translate into not soing as much I don’t know I don’t

Know we’ll see if I even want to because I’ve sold a lot like I’ve Sol like almost anything I care about Alex’s ability to manage fear and to free solo the biggest walls in the world is truly remarkable but what inspires me the most is the intention and purpose that he

Brings to his life he pushes us to all ask ourselves are we living the life that we want to live when you’re standing beneath a big wall and you’re about to climb it without a rope it’s hard to match that kind of intensity something tells me parenting

Will be a much bigger and more meaningful experience long term but hopefully it’s not going to be quite as scary

Video “Before Free Solo (Full Episode) | Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin” was uploaded on 02/03/2024. Watch all the latest Videos by National Geographic on Gretopia