Credit: @alexhonnold /

Alex Honnold achieved a lifelong dream last Saturday. In what Alpinist magazine calls “… indisputably the greatest free-solo of all time,” Alex climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan, one of the world’s largest monoliths, with little more than a bag of chalk. (Er… No rope? No safety gear? We’re guessing that means no room for mistakes, huh?) This 31-year-old took 3 hours and 56 minutes to scale the 3,000-foot granite wall. (A feat which most guides suggest allowing 4 days to complete.) To give you a point of reference, Men’s Journal described El Capitan as such:

Alex took a task that was by all accounts incomprehensible, and he slayed it.

In case you’re wondering, Alex is the dude on the right with the shy smile and the beat-up pants. We think he might still be in shock (or, at least, in an euphoric afterglow) in this photo. The elated/relieved man on the left is Jimmy Chin, the National Geographic photographer and filmmaker who spent two years filming a feature documentary on him.

So, how does one prepare for a monumental climb like this?

Alex told The New York Times he had spent a year or two physically and mentally preparing. He climbed El Capitan as early as 2008 or 2009 without falling, so he’s been physically capable of doing a free-solo for the past 8 or 9 years. However, it’s taken him much longer to feel safe about doing it.

When asked if he had any doubts, Alex said:

We salute you, Alex. Your mind-bending physicality and superhuman drive proves that nothing is impossible. Thanks for breaking the mold and showing us how it’s done!