Alex Honnold Leads First Climb of One of the Tallest Arctic Sea Cliffs for Science

by Emily Morgan
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You would think free-climbing El Capitan’s 3,000-foot rock face would be enough of a challenge for the world-renowned climber Alex Honnold. Well, think again. This time, Honnold is back for another daunting climbing challenge, and this time he’s adding another thousand feet. 

Alex Honnold first made our hair stand up when he free-climbed the vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park’s iconic El Capitan, captured in the Oscar-winning documentary, Free Solo. Now he’s back, and he’s doing it for the purpose of research. 

Recently, Honnold joined fellow world-class climber Hazel Findlay to film a National Geographic series for Disney+, known as “On The Edge with Alex Honnold.” 

Here’s what we know: 

  • Honnold and Findlay made the first known ascent of Ingmikortilaq.
  • It’s one of the world’s tallest rock faces that had never been climbed before.
  • The cliff face rises nearly 4,000 feet out of the water in a remote area of eastern Greenland. 
  • After a 5-day expedition, Honnold and Findlay successfully summited the rock face on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Before completing the summit, the team began the climb from a small vessel at the base and camped out overnight.

According to reports, they could disconnect from their ropes for the last 150 feet of the climb and walk safely to the summit.

“If we manage to climb Ingmikortilaq, it will be the biggest ascent I’ve ever done,” Honold told “Good Morning America” before he completed the route, which also happened to be on his 37th birthday. 

Honnold and his six-person team spent nearly a month on treacherous terrain before they began the climb.

Alex Honnold teams up with climate change scientists to help provide crucial research

Prior, Honnold and Findlay expertly navigated a route up the steepest and tallest section of the wall. As of Tuesday, they reached the 3,750-feet summit. It is approximately 750 feet taller than El Capitan and almost three times the height of the Empire State Building.

In preparation, the team was joined by ​​Dr. Heïdi Sevestre, a glaciologist working with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, and Adam Kjeldsen, a Greenlandic guide. Now, they have completed what might be the first proper crossing of the Renland ice cap from the Pool Wall. 

During the trek, Sevestre and the team dragged a radar that took real-time measurements of the depth and density of the ice underneath them.

In addition to summiting the never-before-climbed rock face, Honnold was also motivated to make the climb due to the looming climate crisis. 

According to the scientific community, they desperately need data from remote locations like Ingmikortilaq to study rising water in the area. 

Through the Greenland trek alongside Honnold, Sevestre was able to measure the depth and density of ice caps. She was also able to get crucial insights into the rate of the ice melt.

Outsider.com