The Impossible Climb
Shortlisted for Biography of the Year at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020
Shortlisted for Adventure Travel Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2020
On June 3rd 2017, professional climber Mark Synnott was in Yosemite to witness something that only a handful of people knew was about to occur: his friend, Alex Honnold, was going to attempt to summit one of the world’s most challenging ascents, a route called Freerider on the notorious rock formation El Capitan. It is an extraordinarily dangerous and difficult climb, and yet Alex was going to do it ‘free solo’. Meaning no help. No partner. No equipment. No rope. Where a single small mistake would mean certain death. Indeed, to summit El Cap free solo was a feat likened to Neil Armstrong first walking on the moon.
As Alex plots, rehearses and ultimately attempts his heart-stopping ascent, Mark also shares his own personal history of climbing, filled with triumphs, defeats and dilemmas, in this deeply reported, inspiring exhortation to live life to the fullest.
An enthralling new book. Few sports have as rich and varied a literature as climbing...and this gripping work from the vastly experienced mountaineer and adventurer Mark Synnott is a magnificent addition to the canon...This compelling book reads like a thriller as it ranges over the rarefied world of extreme climbing. * Daily Mail * With the possible exception of the lunar landings, free-soloing El Capitan may rank as one of the most audacious--and terrifying--things a human being has ever done. Synnott's narrative plasters you to a 3,000-foot granite cliff and doesn't let you go until the climb is done. It is one of the most compelling accounts of a climb and the climbing ethos that I've ever read. -- Sebastian Junger, author of THE PERFECT STORM Immensely enjoyable. Tapping his own impressive mountaineering resume, Mark Synnott dives deep into the rebellious counterculture of extreme climbing to get inside the head of Alex Honnold, the planet's foremost rock climber. What motivated Honnold to free climb El Capitan without a rope? "Because it's there" doesn't come close to explaining it. Synnott's The Impossible Climb does. -- Andy Hall, author of DENALI'S HOWL Mark Synnott's The Impossible Climb is to climbing what William Finnegan's Barbarian Days is to surfing. -- John Long, writer, producer, and pioneer of 'free solo' rock climbing Yes, The Impossible Climb is the gripping story of the most perilous rock ascent of all time - but it's much more than that. In seamlessly fusing memoir, reporting, social history, climbing lore, technical expertise and intimate glimpses of his tribe, Mark Synnott has given us a kind of epic of life on the edge. Even readers who have never set toe to rock are going to find themselves glued to this insanely brilliant account of extreme athletic ambition and endurance. -- David Laskin, author of THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD An accomplished portrait of two remarkable lives * New York Times Book Review * Fast paced and enjoyable. * Wall Street Journal * Synnott, with the skill of a master craftsman, weaves into this text stories about Alex's climbing. . . . fascinating reading. . . . Synnott uses his experience both as a climber and as a writer to paint an incredible canvas. The Impossible Climb is not to be missed. -- Keith Sharples * Climber *
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