The Impossible Climb climaxes with Alex Honnold's unprecedented, almost unimaginable feat: a 3,000-foot vertical climb up El Capitan in Yosemite, without a rope. Mark Synnott tells the story in the context of a deeply reported account of their ten-year friendship, multiple climbing expeditions, and the climbing ethos they share.
One slip, one false move, one missed toehold, and you're dead. Alex Honnold, the #1 free solo climber in the world, chose the route known as Freerider on Yosemite's El Capitan, a series of pitches so hard that it's newsworthy when someone free climbs it with a rope. No one had ever "free soloed" it before; only a few people have ever even contemplated it. That four-hour climb on June 3, 2017, was, simply, one of the boldest feats in human history. At the same time, it was almost unbearable to watch--as Mark Synnott did. That morning anchors a story that begins more than a decade before, a story only Mark Synnott could tell.
Synnott, an experienced and well-known climber sponsored (like Honnold) by the North Face, weaves a story from his ten-year relationship with Honnold, including Honnold's first season at Yosemite, when this twenty-one-year-old was recognized as a prodigy. Synnott was team leader on Honnold's first international climbing expedition to Borneo, and that tale, along with other expeditions they made to Chad and Oman, provide deep insight into the life of a professional climber. So too does Synnott's stories of his own amateur and professional experiences, in particular his vertical-mile wall climb in the Karakoram, which demonstrates how tensions arise when a cutting-edge climb is turned into a performance for public consumption.
The Impossible Climb is more than an adventure story about courage that defies human boundaries. It is an emotional drama about friendship, respect, and trust. It is about an outdoor culture and why climbers climb; but ultimately, it is a story about all of us, about overcoming fear and making the most of our lives.