America’s most famous rock climber and The North Face athlete Alex Honnold made his talk show debut Thursday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles to chat with Kimmel about free soloing El Capitan, cleaning gutters, and what it takes to climb routes that people deem impossible.
Kimmel made it clear he’s never set foot in a climbing gym (“The chalk bag is to keep your hands dry?” he asks at one point), and challenged Honnold with a line of questioning that played up his ignorance. “How do you prepare?” Kimmel asks. “You go to the REI store and you climb up the thing there?”
“Exactly. You buy a little starter kit and figure it out,” Honnold responded, before bringing it back to the reality of his accomplishment. “The biggest part for me of the preparation was the visualization — the psychological side and imagining that it was possible. That took years to sort of wrap my head around the idea.”
When Kimmel finally seems to realize that Honnold accomplished an athletic feat that would’ve killed anyone else, he asks if Honnold wrote a note to his mother before making the ascent. “No, that seems overly dramatic,” replies Honnold, getting the biggest laugh from the crowd for maybe the night. Honnold also opened up about his childhood —telling stories about his mom telling him not to climb off the roof, and making him clean the gutters when he did.
Kimmel went on to talk about how Spider Man clearly should have cast Alex Honnold (“How the hell did you not get the part? …It’s unbelievable”) and then ended the interview on a dark note, saying “You’ll be missed,” as he thanked Honnold for his time spent on the talk show couch. We might have gone with, “You’re a legend.”