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31-Year-Old Climber Completes Solo, Gear-Free Summit of Yosemite's El Capitan

In Yosemite National Park stands a 3,000-foot wall of granite known as El Capitan. It's long been a rock climber's dream, but it's a daring dream. Reaching the top "used to take days to complete with the aid of ropes, safety gear, and a partner," Olga R. Rodriguez reported in TIME. "In the past few decades, speed climbers working in tandem and using ropes have set records in reaching the top of the steep cliff."

On June 3, 2017, Alex Honnold smashed those records, taking about four hours to summit El Capitan—without ropes, safety gear, or a partner.

Honnold, a native of Northern California, is 31 years old but has 20 years of climbing experience—at 11, he started indoor rock climbing. He left the University of California Berkeley in order "to conquer major summits around the world."

He prepared for this El Capitan climb for two years. While the climb is certainly an extraordinary physical challenge—at one point "2,300 feet off the ground … there are very small holds where only a thumb can fit"—Honnold said that the "mental hurdle" was even harder.

"To walk up to the base of the climb without rope and harness, it just feels a little outrageous," he said. "Getting over that side of it was the hardest part."

Potential Preaching Angles: With his incredible feat, Honnold proved to the world that El Capitan can be conquered solo—but just because we can do something on our own doesn't mean that we always should. What we need is a community around us and a reliance on our God. Take these famous words from Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart / and lean not on your own understanding … " (3:5).

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