Alex Honnold has his own verb. “To honnold”—usually written as “honnolding”—is to stand in some high, precarious place with your back to the wall, looking straight into the abyss. To face fear, literally.
The verb was inspired by photographs of Honnold in precisely that position on Thank God Ledge, located 1,800 feet off the deck in Yosemite National Park. Honnold side-shuffled across this narrow sill of stone, heels to the wall, toes touching the void, when, in 2008, he became the first rock climber ever to scale the sheer granite face of Half Dome alone and without a rope. Had he lost his balance, he would have fallen for 10 long seconds to his death on the ground far below. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.