Alex Honnold: Climbing genius seeks to have a global impact

The renowned rock climber discusses his approach to life in an in-depth interview with Al Jazeera’s Generation Sport.

Alex Honnold is arguably the most famous rock climber in the world, renowned for his awe-inspiring free solo climbs, where he ascends dizzying heights without any ropes or safety gear.

In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Generation Sport, Honnold opened up about how his approach to life has helped him achieve some of the biggest feats in rock climbing history and how he’s used the fame and money it has brought him, to make the world a better place.

Key to his philosophy is living intentionally and “cutting away societal expectations”, he told Al Jazeera.

“How are you supposed to dress or look? What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to live in a certain way? […] No, you just live however you want because ultimately we’re all just going to die. We may as well have a good time on the way,” he told Generation Sport host Iman Amrani.

Early on in his career as a climber, Honnold knew he wanted to have a positive impact on the world around him, which led him to create the Honnold Foundation in 2012. It is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability and social equity through strategic partnerships and grassroots initiatives.

Honnold says his journey to create the foundation was in part rooted in his personal experiences. During his rock climbing expeditions, he witnessed global inequality and the stark contrast between his own privileged upbringing in suburban California and the challenging circumstances faced by people in other parts of the world.

Honnold says that he gives a third of his income to the foundation and that he might donate a higher proportion in the future, and at the heart of its mission is reducing inequality.

“It’s a little cliche, but when you see kids abroad, you’re sort of like, it’s just by the roll of the dice that I was born in suburban California … part of starting the foundation was just my attempt at grappling with that inherent unfairness in the human situation,” he said.

“At a fundamental level, I come from a world view of sort of abundance. Like, I think that there’s more than enough for everybody to go around. It’s more about equitably distributing what we have.”

Generation Sport with Alex Honnold, presented by Iman Amrani, was first broadcast on September 24, 2023 on Al Jazeera English.

Source: Al Jazeera