Professional Rock Climber
From Sacramento, California, Alex Honnold’s climbing career began when he was about 5 and he would scale the kitchen fridge before moving on to the roof of the house. He became a regular at the climbing gym by age 10. As a teen, he competed in many national and international youth climbing championships. He enrolled a the University of California, Berkeley, but due to personal problems, he had a difficult first year. He skipped a lot of classes to go climbing instead and eventually dropped out. Honnold lived out of a van for years and is famous for being the only person thus far to do a free solo of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He also holds the record for the fastest climb of the triple crown at Yosemite: Mount Watkins, The Nose and the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome. Honnold is considered to be one of the best free climbers in the world. He co-authored a memoir and has appeared in several films and documentaries. Honnold is a vegetarian and active in environmental issues. He has won several climbing awards, including the Golden Piton and the Piolets d’Or. Honnold has millions of followers on social media. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 165 lbs.
Alex Honnold’s Diet
Honnold eats a vegetarian diet that is close to vegan and makes many of his food choices for environmental reasons. Because climbing doesn’t have a season, he eats more or less the same things year-round. He’ll have either cereal and non-dairy milk or an egg scramble for breakfast and then snacks on whole foods such as nuts, fruit, or avocados on bread throughout the day. Honnold has a basic camping cooktop in his van that he uses to prepare his simple meals, which in the evening might be squash, peppers, spinach, and noodles, topped with cheese and pumpkin seeds.
- Low Protein 20% 20%
- Medium Fat 30% 30%
- High Carb 70% 70%
Bring On the Breakfast
Honnold’s favorite meal is breakfast. He might start his day with muesli and hemp milk or scrambled eggs with vegetables and maybe a tortilla.
Because Honnold climbs for hours at a time, he usually snacks throughout the day. Because climbing isn’t a cardio-intense sport, he says he can eat what he likes without worrying about getting cramps.
Keep It Light
While Honnold doesn’t restrict his eating, he does stick to light, healthy items such as fruit and nuts.
Honnold doesn’t have a fridge in his van, so there aren’t a lot of leftovers. He has also discovered how few foods actually require refrigeration.
Honnold says red bell peppers are a personal fave. He eats them like apples.
Honnold loves cookie dough, particularly chocolate chip. He says cookies are the only thing he knows how to bake, although he hasn’t made them in quite some time due to living out of his van and not having an oven.
What to Eat
Cheese (in moderation)
What to Avoid
Anything with a long list of ingredients
Honnold On His Diet
‘The diet for climbing all the time isn’t really that different from the diet for living. It’s not like cardio sports where you’re burning a bajillion calories every day.’
Honnold On Eating Mindfully
‘I’ve never dieted or restricted calories. You’re just sort of mindful about not getting plump.’
Honnold On Eating While Climbing
‘You can eat a burrito while climbing and be pretty much fine.’
Honnold On Clean Living
‘I don’t drink or smoke or do any of that stuff. But that’s more because I don’t really like it.’
Honnold On Cooking
‘I hate cooking. I’m sort of a “do the dishes” kind of guy.’
Alex Honnold’s Fitness Routine
Weekly Workout Routine
On the Rise
Honnold may spend all day climbing, or he may do shorter climbs that last only a few hours.
Honnold says a lengthy hike is part of his day just to get to the place where he will climb.
Keep A Journal
Honnold keeps a record of his climbs with notes on where he needs to improve.
Know When to Say When
Honnold says sometimes a climb just doesn’t feel right and so he’ll stop early. He credits with following this gut instinct for his continuing success in the dangerous sport of free climbing.
Focus on Technique
Honnold says most new climbers just want to get to the top, but practicing technique is what will make you improve.
Honnold recommends working on the areas that need improvement, such as practicing specific skills, rather than just racing up the wall.
Find a Mentor
When you’re ready to start climbing outside, seek out people who have been doing it for a while and learn all you can from more experienced climbers.
Channel Your Inner Turtle
Honnold says he isn’t an especially fast climber, he just goes along steadily, avoiding burn out and the need to stop.
An Alex Honnold Routine
Climb: Start at a gym if you’re new. Then find a community of climbers when you’re ready to move on to outdoor climbs.
To build strength & muscle balance:
Hanging leg lifts
Run/Hike: Either on your way to your climb, or any day you don’t climb or do a shorter session.
Honnold On Testing Limits
‘It’s very important to me to be pushing my own boundaries.’
Honnold On The Importance Of Maintaining A Lean Physique
‘Climbing is definitely very much strength to weight ratio.’
Honnold On Free Solo Climbing
‘I’m going to the most beautiful places on earth and enjoying a rigorous physical activity that I find super fun. What’s not to enjoy about that?’
Honnold On Adrenaline
‘A lot of people assume that I must be an adrenaline junkie but climbing is actually very low adrenaline because it is very slow. Climbing is the opposite of gravity sports like surfing or snowboarding.’
Honnold On His Secret To Speed
‘I don’t actually climb fast. I just don’t get tired and slow down.’
Alex Honnold’s Supplements
Honnold eats very simply and doesn’t have much to say on the topic of supplementation, but as a vegetarian, vitamin B-12would be important to take as it is difficult to get from plant-only sources.
Calcium and vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D can also be hard to get from plants, and bones and joints take a beating from climbing, so a supplement of these essential nutrients are also a good idea, as are glucosamine, chondroitin and collagen.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and joint stiffness.
Antioxidant vitamins C&E help purge the body of free radicals that get created during intensive exercise, and they also strengthen immunity and contribute to overall health.
Alex Honnold’s Lifestyle
Slow Speed Demon
Although climbing isn’t considered a speed sport, Honnold holds multiple speed records, including about a dozen for various ascents of El Capitan.
Dirtbag and Proud of It
Honnold says being called a ‘dirtbag’ is an honorific, and it means you have committed to a minimalist life so that your time is free to pursue the passion of climbing.
After dropping out of college, Honnold lived out of a van for over a decade. He would follow the weather up and down California to find the best climbing. Even after he finally bought himself a house, he lived in his van in the driveway until the furniture arrived.
Honnold founded the charitable organization called the Honnold Foundation in 2012 with the mission of seeking ‘simple, sustainable ways to improve lives worldwide,’ with the current focus on promoting solar power in developing countries. He does not do fundraising but rather donates a significant part of his own income.
Honnold is an avid reader, with a particular interest in environmentalism and classics.
Honnold On His Climbing Skills Growing Up
‘I was never, like a bad climber, but I had never been a great climber either…I just loved climbing.’
Honnold On Living Out Of A Van
‘I don’t think “van life” is particularly appealing. It’s not like I love living in a car, but I love living in all these places.’
Honnold On Fear
‘A lot of people say I don’t feel fear, or that I don’t fear death, but that’s just not true…I just have more of an acceptance that I will die at some point.’
Honnold On Minimalist Living
‘I don’t spend money on anything except food and gas.’
Honnold On Being Called A ‘Dirtbag’
‘It basically means you’re a homeless person by choice.’
Alone on the Wall
Queen Maud Land
Beyond Meat Burger Alternative
The North Face Apparel
Maxim Climbing Ropes
La Sportiva Footwear
Goal Zero Portable Power Station