If you’ve been to the movies lately, or even watched some commercials, you might have heard about Alex Honnold’s newest film, Free Solo. Just as palm sweat-inducing as the last one, A Line Across the Sky, Honnold once again demonstrates his acute and intense focus on summiting the next big wall. Free Solo provides an intimate view at Honnold’s personal life as he prepares to go after a free solo of Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan via the Freerider route.
The National Geographic Film directed by Jimmy Chin (who also stars) and his wife, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at where Honnold trains, sleeps, eats and dates. For the past 11 years, Honnold has lived in his van. That means, like most things in Honnold’s life, he gives his gear a thorough look through and test before committing. As an athlete sponsored by The North Face, Honnold has plenty of shirts, shorts and hoodies, but there are lots of other gear items stuffed in the corners of his tricked-out van that our team was fascinated by.
Honnold perfects every single climb before he heads out to attempt it. From visualization to strength training and grip training, not one thing goes unthought before the big day. To help dial his grip strength, Honnold keeps a hangboard in his van, which our team caught after seeing the film. The Beastmaker 2000 has been around since 2008, but started on a very small scale. “There are still just four of us in the company,” Dan Varian, one of the co-founders of Beastmaker explained via email. But now, this hangboard “is one of our best sellers. Many of the world’s top climbers use the board to train on because it offers a variety of grips in a compact and ergonomic training platform.” Since Honnold lives in a 2016 Ram ProMaster Cargo Van, it makes sense that he’d want something that’s not insanely large and bulky to store.
The board is not for beginners, which is why the 1000 series is the absolute best seller, according to Varian. “It’s aimed more at beginner to intermediate climbers who are looking to start training, rather than the 2000 which is more for seasoned climbers wishing to work a weakness.”
The wooden texture won’t hurt your fingers, but is still plenty grippy. With all the pieces built from wood, the brand aims to be “as carbon neutral as possible,” Varian says. “We are 99-percent plastic free, and we recycle all our sawdust into briquettes. Our energy is from renewable suppliers. This year we have donated £6,000 (roughly $7,696) to tree planting schemes in Yorkshire to help offset our wood use and postage, too.” You can pick up one of these boards online and get it shipped anywhere in the world. Then go work on your own El Cap.
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