You’ve just pulled off the most audacious, mind-bending free solo in climbing history—scaling El Cap’s 3,000 feet sans rope—and now the media frenzy is ablaze. Interview requests are flooding in from the likes of NPR, Nat Geo and the NY Times, but you’ve made yourself perfectly clear. For one hour that afternoon, you have important business to attend and won’t be available.
No you’re not meeting the President, or filming with Jared Leto. In fact, you’ll again be flying solo for this mission.
You’ve got a sexy date with your hangboard.
Believe it or not, this is exactly how BD Athlete Alex Honnold celebrated his cordless lap on El Cap’s iconic Freerider (VI 5.13a). During a post-send interview with Nat Geo, Honnold explained matter-of-factly:
“I’ve been trying to hang board every other day, and it’s the other day.”
But therein lies the secret to Honnold’s success. The world’s boldest climber doesn’t rely on just his obvious talent. He trains relentlessly to perfect his craft.
And when it comes to hangboarding, he’s diligent. Honnold works out religiously on his wooden Beastmaker 2000 hangboard, which is mounted to the doorway of his tricked out ProMaster.
But why train on a hangboard when you’re rock climbing—sometimes 22 out of the last 25 days (even managing up to 70 pitches in just two days)—on the beautiful granite of Yosemite Valley?
Image: Will Saunders
“I like to think that I’m a 5.14 rock climber,” said Honnold while chilling on the top of El Cap and chatting on the phone last week. “But I haven’t touched anything harder than 12+ in the last two months. I’ve only been doing laps on a big, slabby crack, basically. So the point of the Beastmaker is to try not to lose too much, and still feel strong when I pull on the holds.”
Were the hangboard workouts crucial for free soloing Freerider?
“It was important for sure,” says Honnold.
“Otherwise I would have been slowly feeling weaker and weaker while I was here in the Valley. And the Boulder Problem crux [roughly V7 on pitch 23] does have small holds that you have to pull on.”
Honnold says he’s been using the Beastmaker app for the last two months while gearing up for his big send. This app, created by the UK-based hangboard company, details benchmark workouts that are notoriously difficult according to Honnold.
“I’m like embarrassingly weak on the Beastmaker,” he laughs. “Two months ago I couldn’t do the 6C [V5] workout, which is the very easiest one. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
However, before booting up at the base of El Cap for his epic solo, Honnold says he had graduated to the 7B workout.
“I was like, ‘oh sick, I can crank a Beastmaker V7 now!’”
Honnold says the workouts are “heinous” and he finds them significantly more difficult than actually climbing. He’s also not adding any additional weight.
“I don’t need to. They’re already way too hard for me,” he says.
Though the hangboard was instrumental for Honnold’s greatest ascent yet, he’s far from done with it, hence the post-Freerider session.
Honnold’s new goal is to take his sport climbing to the next level.
“I’ve always wanted to climb 9a (5.14d), but I’ve never committed enough time and energy to it,” he says. “I haven’t even climbed legitimate 8c+, possibly ever, or at least in the last few years, so I just want to climb harder.”
And his strict hangboard routine is all part of the plan.
“It’s funny, it won’t be anything impressive by modern standards, but I’ll be pretty proud of myself if I climb 9a. And honestly if I ever climb a 5.15, I’d be like, ‘alright, I’m good.’”
Check out Honnold’s hangboard workouts below and get psyched!
To learn more about the Beastmaker hangboard and download the App, visit:https://www.beastmaker.co.uk