Jimmy Chin, a name you’ll recognize if you watched the excellent documentary Meru, teamed up with director and wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi to make the film documenting Honnold’s obsession with El Capitan.
The film isn’t just about the climb itself, or the training to get there. It’s also a deep dive into the emotions of family and friends dealing with the possibility of Honnold not coming home.
When asked what would happen if he fell he said, “You accept the fact that if anything goes wrong, you’re going to die. And that’s that.”
This is what I find most interesting about adventurers like Honnold, for him the choice is simple. Feel dead inside for life for having never attempted the feet, or die trying. One is quick and fairly painless.
Chin had his own doubts about making a movie about free soloing, especially one about a friend, “It’s hard to not imagine your friend falling through the frame to his death,” he said.
For Chin, the preparation needed to film Honnold’s climb was almost as impressive as the climb itself. Chin had to manage multiple climbers and drones filming on the wall. All while keeping anything or anyone from being in the current shot. He followed Honnold through years of preparation, 30 days of practicing the shoot and managed a 15-person crew.
See dates and times for Free Solo and watch the interactive 360 video on National Geographic’s movie site.