The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and a Climber’s Life

Viking. Jan. 2021. 224p. adapted by Hampton Synnott. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593203927.
Gr 6 Up–This young readers’ adaptation details Alex Honnold’s dream and success of free-climbing the imposing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. While many climbers make ambitious attempts using harnesses, ropes, and other equipment, it is the rare athlete, like Honnold, who does not use anything except a chalk bag to climb some of the world’s biggest peaks and monuments. Synnott spends the first part of the book detailing his own forays into daredevil escapades and professional adventuring pursuits, as well as Honnold’s childhood and early years as an amateur climber. The second part spotlights Honnold as an unassuming and shy professional climber who conquers Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, Ennedi in Chad, Musandam Peninsula in Oman, and more. He secured endorsement deals and started a clean energy nonprofit. The most compelling part of the narrative explains Honnold’s mindset, preparation, and the death-defying free solo ascent of El Cap in three hours and 56 minutes. Readers can use the glossary to clarify technical language and refer to images and videos online to understand the magnitude of other climbers’ feats and aspects of the Freerider route up El Cap. Full-page photos complement the storytelling.
VERDICT A heart-pounding adventure that will pull in any reader who is looking to live life to its fullest. A beautiful, unique addition to most nonfiction sports collections.

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