By all accounts, according to National Geographic’s documentary Free Solo, Alex Honnold was a melancholy child, shy and with expectations toward perfection. Since the future is often formulated in childhood, we asked him about that at a private screening in Washington, DC.
Was he striving for perfection because it was expected of him? “I don’t think that, I mean I’m sure it all contributes,” he told Hollywood on the Potomac. “I don’t think it’s easy to put your finger on one thing like that because I think there’s a lot of things that the film maybe doesn’t go into as much which is just general climbing, culture and history. The fact that I grew up looking up to some of the people like Peter Crops, the fellow you see in the film who’s like a hero, is in my childhood. I think there was a lot of just history of free solo climbing that sort of drew me to it as well. It’s not just the whole psychological side with family and whatever – part of it is just that it’s fun. I just like it. It’s just cool. But the thing is that everybody … plenty of people just have drive in their life for whatever reason – wants to do well in something. It doesn’t need to be some dark childhood, it could also just be that you want to be good at what you do.”