Alex Honnold is a 22 year old climber that has a mutant ability to turn his brain off. How else could you explain his capacity for putting himself in such insane, high risk situations? Free soloing means climbing without a partner, without protection, and without any room for error. He free solos big walls – not just a pitch or two – but nearly a vertical kilometer of climbing. One lapse in judgment, a simple mistake, and he falls 500 meters or more. That’s 5 football fields. Honnold climbed Half Dome, in the Yosemite Valley, in just hours – a climb that can take up to two or three days for most human climbers. And speaking of time – and someone more physics oriented might correct this – but in the case of a fall from 500 meters, it would take close to 15 seconds to deck. Honnold would accelerate to 50% of terminal velocity within just 3. In 8 seconds he would be at 90% of terminal velocity. By 15, he would be at 99% of terminal velocity and right around then he’d hit the ground at close to 200 km/h and be terminally dead. That’s a lot of time to think about things as the ground rushes up.
No idea how someone could have that mental discipline. Good Lord. Think about this the next time you’re bombing a bike, or your skis, down some choppy hunk of downhill and you start to wonder if maybe you should speed check or pull back a bit. You’ll probably be just fine.