The Untold Truth of Alex Honnold, The American Rock Climber

Alex Honnold is an American rock climber and one of the most recognized professional adventure rock climbers across the globe. He is best known for his free solo ascents of big walls, especially El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, which he completed in 2017.

As a result of his free soloing of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, he gained overnight fame outside the climbing scene. He completed what may be the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport by becoming the first climber to scale the iconic nearly 3,000-foot granite wall without making use of ropes or other safety gear.

Following his groundbreaking achievements, Honnold has made appearances in international television commercials and has been profiled by the New York Times, and has equally been featured on the cover of National Geographic. He has also inspired and starred in many adventure movies such as Emmy nominated Alone on the Walls.

Early Life and Career

Alexander Honnold was born in Sacramento, California, in the United States on the 17th of August 1985. His parents, Charles Forrest Honnold and Dierdre Wolownick were middle-class language professors at a community college. He has one sibling and was raised by his parents in Sacramento. Right from childhood, he was inclined towards climbing. He went on to participate in several youth climbing championships held nationally and internationally during his teen years.

He is an alumnus of Mira Loma High School and then had a brief spell at the University of California, Berkeley where he intended to study Civil Engineering before quitting school in order to focus on rock climbing. While in his first year in college, Alex Honnold’s parents signed the divorce papers and his father passed on a few years afterward.

image source

Having been climbing since he was a kid, the hard-working athlete came under the spotlight in 2007 when he climbed the Astroman and the Rostrum situated in Yosemite, California without using ropes or any safety gear, thereby becoming the second person to free solo both big walls in one day after the legendary rock climber, Peter Croft. In the following year, he made a free solo of Yosemite’s Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome and Utah’s Moonlight Buttress which set new benchmarks in the climbing world.

A few years later, Alex Honnold proved his mettle as the world’s best by accomplishing a feat no other human has mastered which is free soloing of the Yosemite’s El Capitan in 3 hours and 56 minutes. His other jaw-dropping feats include setting a speed record for climbing the Nose route on El Capitan alongside Hans Florine and becoming the first solo free climber of Yosemite triple crown which he completed at a record of 18 hours and 50 minutes. His other notable climbs include El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico, University Wall situated in Canada, and The Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia, among many others.

Alex Honnold’s Fact Sheet

Alex Hannold

Alex Honnold’s Movies and TV Shows

Honnold has not only left a mark in the rock climbing world but has been the subject of many documentaries. His extraordinary rock climbing abilities have been profiled in movies such as Free Solo which displays his free solo ascent of El Capitan. The documentary landed an Academy Award and equally a BAFTA Award for Best Documentary. Other movies and TV shows he has starred in are The Sharp End (2007), Honnold 3.0 (2012), Progression (2009), Alone on the Wall (2008), Showdown at Horseshoe Hell (2015), A Line Across the Sky (2015), Queen Maud Land (2018) and Africa Fusion (2016).

His Books

Alex Honnold is an avid reader whose interests center on environmentalism, classic literature and economics. In 2015, he had his first publication; a book entitled Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and Ultimate Limits of Adventure which he penned alongside David Roberts. Similarly, his mother authored a book entitled, The Sharp End of Life: A Mother’s Story.

Alex Honnold’s Career Achievements

Renowned for his accomplishments in rock climbing, Alex Honnold has received several accolades in recognition of his outstanding records. In 2010, Climbing Magazine awarded him the Golden Piton Award for his endurance climbing. Five years later, he claimed Piolets d’Or Award alongside Tommy Caldwell following their full traverse of Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Range.

In the year 2018, he was decorated with two awards namely; Piolets d’Or for his 2017 outstanding contribution to climbing and the Roberts and Miriam Underhill Award for excellence in various fields of climbing from The American Alpine Club.

His Girlfriend

Alex Honnold’s girlfriend, Sanni McCandless is a certified life coach who co-founded an outreach festival to encourage a more value-driven lifestyle known as Outwild. She is a graduate of Chapel Hill High School and the University of North Carolina where she studied Psychology.

The two lovebirds met in 2015 at an event for Honnold’s book. Having lost interest in online dating, Sanni made a decision to give her number to any guy she finds attractive. So, when she approached Alex Honnold to sign a copy of his book, she handed him her number, having been enchanted by his simplicity and honesty during the event. A few weeks later, they went on a date and the rest they say is history.

Alex Honnold
Alex Honnold and his girlfriend, Sanni (image source)

Interestingly, Honnold’s beau is also a rock climber and has hugely supported her boyfriend in his career. Their relationship has garnered much media attention since 2018 when the documentary film, Free Solo was released. They are going strong as a couple and often ascend mountains together for fun.

His Sponsorship Deals

Honnold has attracted a bevy of corporate sponsors through his career success. His sponsors include Goal Zero, Stride Health, The North Face, Black Diamond, Maxim Ropes, and La Sportive. In 2014, Clif Bar & Company pulled out their sponsorship deal with him as a result of his free-soloing technique which they dimmed as highly dangerous and life-risking.

Living in a Van for More Than a Decade

After dropping out of college, Honnold started driving his mom’s old minivan which he used to go climbing across California. He then purchased a 2002 model of Ford E-Series in 2007 which also became an abode for the bold and cutting-edge climber during his countless adventures. As a result of its mobility with everything within arm’s reach, he customized his van with cabinets and a kitchenette, thereby making it a little bit comfortable. Later on, he bought a 2016 model of Ram ProMaster which he still lives in during most of his travels.


Alex Honnold established an environmental non-profit organization called Honnold Foundation in 2012 with the aim of providing simple and sustainable ways to improve lives across the globe. He has spent almost a third of his income on the organization and installed solar panels in some developing countries such as Angola as he promotes solar energy.

Alex Honnold’s Net Worth

Alex Honnold who is undoubtedly the world’s best climber sits on a net worth of $2 million. He has made his wealth mostly through his career and sponsorship deals. There’s every likelihood that his financial value will augment in the ensuing years as he continues to set new climbing records. He has houses in Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas.

How Tall is Alex Honnold?

Although his body weight is not known, the expert climber’s height is listed as 5 feet 11 inches. The details of his general body measurements have never been made public but he has brown hair with eyes of similar color. Alex Honnold is currently on a veggies diet, he doesn’t do drugs, nor does he touch caffeine and alcohol.

Ijeoma Ogbozor
Ijeoma Ogbozor
Ijeoma is a content writer by day and a creative cook at night. An Adventure and music enthusiast who is curious about everything, She enjoys reading and pays attention to details. You can find her in her downtime fantasizing about her trip into the ocean, space or neverland.


Featured Today

Fact Check

We strive for fairness and accuracy, if you've found a possible error or something that needs updating, please contact us

Related Stories