( intro music ) Cedar Wright:Yeah there’s
tons of pain, exhaustion,
but the same time there’s
a lot of beauty, and laughter,
and really special moments,and it all combines into this
unforgettable life experience.
Woo! Yeah!( applause ) So, how does a… …a little kid, well,
named Cedar Wright– Obviously hippie parents, right?…and an amazing dresser
later in life become…
( audience laughter ) …the superman of rock
climbing, that I am today? Well, actually,
some people might
disagree with that statement.But basically it started
for me in Yosemite Valley.
I started out living
in my truck.
And doing, kind of,
what climbers call
“the dirt-bag existence”.
And that basically involves,
you know,
diving in dumpsters,
surviving on next to nothing
and climbing all the timein this place, Yosemite Valley.And I soon got a job on
Yosemite Search and Rescue.
And this is my first sponsorship
in a way. It was…
it was a way for me to live
full time in Yosemite Valley.
Occasionally, I would
perform a rescue, help drag somebody
off a cliff or carry somebody down with a
sprained ankle from a trail.It allowed me to really hone
my craft as a climber.
And because I had
my Bachelor’s in English,
I started to write about
my exploits and tell stories.
And this led eventually
to climbing sponsorship. I actually convinced some… companies that they
should sponsor me, including The North Face.That would really kinda
transform my whole life.
It allowed me to travel
the world
and have these incredible
adventures all over the globe.
And also do some really sketchy,
awesome stuff like this.
This was in the Ukraine.( audience gasps ) This is a 600-foot fall. ( audience gasps ) And actually the rope breaks,
so I’m gonna– I don’t want you
guys to see… ( audience laughter ) …the next part. But I…
I had a remarkable recovery and I’m here with us today. Eventually that led
into filmmaking.Because I had appeared
in some films,
I started to be really
interested in how
that all worked.
And I started working
with a bunch of my friends and
shooting a bunch
of really good climbers.
And also Alex Honnold. And… ( audience laughter ) …you have to wonder how
this like, you know, extreme badass, legendary free-soloist
and all round rock god came from this. ( audience laughter )– You know?
Alex:Yeah, yeah.He is…
I wonder myself
and then got to…got eventually to this.Alex:Climbing Half Dome took
me two hours and 15 minutes.
And it’s hard to
be completely focused
and completely on
your game for that long.
Basically, when I’m soloing,Normally I have almost,
like, a mental armor.
You could say I am in the zone.I have something that’s,let’s say, protecting my
head from thinking too much.
And for whatever
reason on Half Dome I ran out of whatever
armor I had.I found myself like
1800-feet off the ground.
I was like,
“What am I doing up here? Why am I doing it?”
You know, just all the questions
all a sudden entered my mind.I think doubt is probably
the biggest danger in soloing.
Because basically as
soon as you start to hesitate then you’re screwed. Alex: Just a sec.
I’m freaking out actually. Alex:I just had this, like,
mini-nervous breakdown.
I never had anything
quite like that happen before.
Cameraman: Just come back if
you’re not feeling it. Alex: Right. That’s the thing,
Is I’m like… Alex:Nothing really happened.It just all happened
inside my head,
while I stood there
for a few minutes.
At some point in there I just
dealt with whatever was going on
and then just climbed it.Yeah, it was cool to, like,
escape, you know,
my little prison.
I haven’t had a moment of panic
like that in a really long time.
I was like…
( panicked breathing sounds )Once I made that move
and was suddenly into
the easier terrain,
it was fantastic.And I just charged the summit.So, that looked
pretty mellow, Alex. – Looks pretty chill.
– Yeah, super mellow. Yeah, yeah, thanks Cedar
for that rousing intro. – That was a delight.
– ( audience laughter )Like you said, I mean, I guess,I’m predominantly known as
a free-soloist but…
in reality I spend probably
95 percent of my time
climbing with a rope,
with partners. You know, just doing
conventional climbing. I grew up climbing in a gym.And so, this represents like a
very small percentage
of my climbing
even though it makes
all the best photos.
And part of what has drawn
me to this kind of soloing,
and being up on walls like this,is just sort of the adventure.
Like, this is sort of
the adventure end of the
rock-climbing spectrum.
I wouldn’t say it’s uncertain
because obviously I’m not like going up
on these walls just rolling the dice being
like, “Let’s see what happens.” You know,
there’s a lot of confidence, I know I can climb thesebut it still feels
quite adventurous.
You’re still alone
in this position
where you’re like,
“This is pretty amazing,
I can’t believe I’m here.”And so, that feeling of
adventure, like, that I get
from soloing
and this kind of stuff,
is kind of what led us
into Sufferfest One,
which is a bike tour
that we did two years ago now.And we climbed the 15,
14,000-foot peaks in California,
as a bike tour.But so you can see
this is Mount Whitney
and the Keeler Needle
next to it.
And that’s, you know,
the tallest peak in California.
Looking at those peaks
you can see it’s, like,
big granite walls,
lots of scrambling,
lots of climbing.
And so, for our bike tour
we basically soloed
whichever routes, you know, inspired us, like,
on all these 14,000-foot peaks. And, you know, that’s kind of
getting back to theadventurous routes of
climbing for us, you know?
It was cool to, like,
get on bikes,
even though we don’t
know anything about them
and then go climb these
mountains in kind of a
cool and new way.Cedar:Yeah.And then I was all, “Alex, we should do Desert Towers in the Four Corners.It’d be epic.
You know, it’s like…
every tower is, like,
super unique.”
And in the meantime,
over the last few years, I’ve started the
Honnold Foundation, which is sort of like
an environmental non-profitand just my way of giving money
back to environmental groups
that improve standard of living.And I’ve been sort of
looking for a hands-on
project to support because I’ve just been giving
grants to other non-profits. And this seemed like
a perfect opportunity because Cedar’s idea
of doing Desert Towersworks in really nicely
with the Navajo Reservation.
This is in Monument Valley,
which is basically the
most dense cluster
of desert towers,
the most iconic desert
towers in the whole country.
But, at the same time
there are 18,000 Navajo living without access to
power in this region. And so… I found the opportunity to
support this group,
Elephant Energy, which does installation, well, solar installation
work with Navajo. And it seemed like
a perfect opportunity to kind of tie that together
with the climbing trip. You know,
make it like a nice adventure but give it slightly
more of a purpose. And, I mean,
it made for a really nice final destination to wind up on the Navajo Reservation
with these epic towers. And it just–
It sort of made sense, and so we’re like,
“All right, let’s try to make
this happen.” I look good in spandex.
Oh, yeah. Cedar:I threw out the idea
of a tower bagging tour.
And Alex was stoked on thatbecause he’s been doing a
bunch of alternative energy
non-profit work
and we would be climbing
on the Navajo Nation
where he wanted to
do a solar installation.
And so we put
together an itinerary
of 45 of the raddest
towers in the desert,
and planned to basically
bike over 800 miles
starting in Southwest Colorado,moving into Utah,popping over to New Mexicoand then finishing the trip
in Arizona,
where we would be
doing our solar project.
So, I thought it would be
appropriate that we would start our mission with the
first desert tower ever climbed. Nice. It’s begun. – Oh, yeah.
– All right, summit one. Now we’re headed over to
The Medicine Man over yonder. Cedar:
The attraction of desert towers
is that not only are
they beautiful but, you know,
it’s a summit. It’s more than
just, like, enjoying climbing.
It’s about getting to the top.To me they call out to
be climbed.
Alright, Honnold, I’m off belay. Oh, yeah! Cedar:
So, we’re stoked, two down.
Now we just have to ride
80 miles to the Fisher Towers.
Alex:We think we would’ve
learned from our last mission
not to just blindly follow
Google Bike directions.
We went the wrong way already. – We’re off to a…
– Well, it’s like… – is that surprising?
– No. Cedar:True to form,
we ended up instantly off route,
and biking for 15 milesof mountain biking
on hybrid bicycles.
Alex:We sort of envision
this trip being like
great climbing on good rock.Then starting on
day two we were, like,
in straight choss
in the Fisher Towers.
Choss is pretty much
the catch-all term for
loose rock, or things
falling off, or things that
are coated in mud.
I mean, Choss is, like,
the inclusive term for
all things bad
about rock climbing.Cedar:As a testament to the
quality of rock in the Fisher’s,
less than three months
after we climbed Cobra Pillar
it fell over.Whoo! Alex:Pretty amazing.Cedar:That evening
after climbing the Titan
we hopped on our bikes
and rode about 20 miles
over to Castle Valley.I think it was on
the ride over to Castleton
that I realized how screwed
I was.
( laughs )We’d climbed seven towers,biked over a hundred miles,
and I was worked.
And this was day three
of a three-week trip.
Alex:The thing with everything
on this trip though is that
you’re like,
“Urgh, this is so hard.”
And then it gets worse.
And you’re like,
“Urgh, now we are
really building character.”
And we got cell service
and we got a text from one of our friends saying, “FYI. There’s a strong wind
advisory for tomorrow. Gusts up to 55 miles an hour.
Sandstorm.” Cedar:It could be fine.How bad could it be?( strong gusts of wind ) Alex:I can see
a wall of sand and dust.
Raging with the wind you
can see a wall of rain
coming towards us.
We just stood on the summitand when you lifted your
hand, it went “buzz”,
electricity style.
It’s time to get
down off this tower. Cedar:Things are getting grim
up here.
It’s been a long day.Alex: Oh, no! Cedar: And then Honnold almost
rode off the cliff. Dude, you got f****** worked. Can you see my buttocks?That was…I told you I went down
kinda hard. It got my arm, got my whole leg.Oh, my God, dude,
your ass is like ripped open.
That is not good.Dude, that lower one is bad.Is it wrong for me to say,
“better you than me?” Sufferfest was…
Sufferfest today. Cedar:
I found out on these trips that,
you know,
there’s gonna be these moments
that’re just really heinous.But at the same timethere are also some unexpected
and amazing things that happen.
So, there I am on the highway,I gotta take a leak,
so, I just pull over randomly
and I walk out into the desert,and I hear this whimpering
sound to my left.
Cedar: Well, we found a puppy
in a ditch and, like, gave him a
place to sleep last night.Somebody just threw
him on the side of the road.
It’s super grim.( laughs ) Cedar:Poor little guy.
Little Sufferpup.
What have we got rocking here?Alex:Oh, we got some…We’re making dog
kennels here now. ( laughs ) Come out, pup. Cedar: Sufferpup. Cedar:With our new buddy
Sufferpup in tow,
we headed to Indian Creek,which is the Mecca
for crack-climbing in the world.
Cedar:This, like,
red sandstone desert out here
in the Four Cornersis some of the most beautiful
land in the world.
It’s really just
something to behold.
And that’s why I
love doing these trips
is to really embed
yourself in the landscape,
to really slowly move
through it,
so you can really appreciate
just what a beautiful
and incredible place this is,
you know?
Now we’re going to be
entering the Navajo Nation
and then we’ll
climb a few more towers
and then start working
on our solar project.
Alex:The climbing on this trip
really culminated in the Whale.
It was almost like our
final exam
because it combined horrific
choss and horrific weather,
and this one just really
horrible experience.
Cedar: Whoo! Tower number 45,
hard to believe. Alex: Well,
that just made us men. I think I just felt, like,
four hairs sprout out
of my chest. Cedar:These are the moments
that kinda make these trips
awesome in the end,
I tell myself.
Oh, my ******* God! Thank God it’s over, dude. I’m going to throw my bike out
in traffic real quick. ( laughter ) I hope I never have to
get on it again. Cedar:The entire trip
Alex and I joked about suffering
and how heinous it was.But the reality is, is that
this is kind of a luxury.
We’re lucky to be able to
electively suffer like this.
And one thing we talked about
at the start of this journey
was that we really wanted
to finish it off in a way
that acknowledged that fact.Alex:The thing is,
our trip is probably easier
than most people’s normal lives.Just in Northern Arizonathere are 18,000 Navajo
with no access to electricity.
Cedar:One of the cool things
about this trip was
that we got to visit
one of the projects
that Honnold is supporting,which is a solar energy projecton the Navajo Nation,near some of the towers
we were climbing on.
Alex:I mean,
as much as I love climbing,
it doesn’t really matter.But it’s nice to do somethingthat has like a slightly
bigger impact on the world,
like, something that
actually matters,
that affects, like, the quality
of other people’s lives.
Something that I
thought about a lot,
that sort of applies
to both climbing and
the environmentalism
of the non-profit type stuff
that I’ve been working on,
is basically the idea
of just, like,
tiny little steps towards,
like, a bigger objective,
where you have some kind of,like, long term goal that seems,
sort of, insurmountable if you think about the
whole thing, but then once you
start into it andyou start chewing
off little pieces,
you do it and you’re like,“Oh, wow,
it turns out it is possible.”
A trip like this, 30 or 40
towers in a couple of weeks,
that sounds exhausting,
like there’s no way.
But then once you start doing itand you start climbing
a bunch of towers everyday
and loving life, and climbing a
couple of towers the next day,
and before you
know it you’re like,
“Wow, we sure have
climbed a lot of towers.”
Heya… Cedar:Yeah there’s tons of
pain, exhaustion,
but at the same time there’s
a lot of beauty, and laughter,
and really special momentsand it all combines into this
unforgettable life experience.
Yeah! ( applause ) So, I hope you guys
enjoyed the film. It’s great to… …you know,
to see people enjoy it. It was… it was a lot of work.One of the frustrating
things about this trip
was that we were
upstaged by a dog.
( audience laughter )You didn’t really get
the full story of Sufferpup.
Sufferpup had actually
climbed into this little tire, like, on a cattle guard grate and was, like, hiding from
the wind. He was… ( whimpers ) And he was still
nursing when I got him. And so, when I first got
him I was like trying to… I just didn’t know what to do. We didn’t obviously have
dog food with us or anything. And so, I just started, like,
nursing him, like, off of my… …like, giving him
water off my thumb. And he was basically
nursing off my thumb. And then I was like, “Well, what would they eat like
when they’re like so little?” And then I was like, “Oh, milk,
they’d be like drinking milk.” – And I was like–
– You gave him string cheese. – String cheese, yeah.
– ( audience laughter ) I don’t know if that’s
exactly what you feed a dog. At first he was, like, all…
( whimpers ) and then he ate, like, like, half a chunk
of string cheese. And I was like we better cut
him off. I don’t want him to– And then didn’t he poop
in the cameraman’s sleeping bag? – Yeah, he like–
– ( audience laughter ) So, that was kind of a bummer. The first night, he like
**** all over my… ( audience laughter ) …all over my sleeping bag. And then he, like, kept on,
like, whining and whining, I couldn’t quite figure out
why he was whining and then he
pissed in my sleeping bag. ( audience laughter )But he was adorable.He was freaking, like,
the most adorable little puppy. And so the whole time,
I was like, “Oh, what are we gonna
do with Sufferpup? You know, like,
we can’t obviously, you know,
we can’t like abandon him.” And so,
I reached out to my wife. And my wife,
like, you know, she loves dogs. But I was like, “I think
Sufferpup’s going to be big.” And we’re kind of, like–
We have, like, a little tiny black
pug that I love, all-terrain pug. And you can follow
him on Instagram, @allterrainpug. Shameless plug. ( audience laughter ) He’s all, “Really again?” ( audience laughter ) But… one of her co-workers took Sufferpup,
and so at the end I knew I had to go back and
check in with Sufferpup and see how he was doing.And I just knew that the
audience was just going
to be like,
“Well, what happened
to Sufferpup?”
You know,
and so it was cool to see–
And I couldn’t believe
in like four months
he’s like frigging grown like–Alex:It’s good you didn’t
keep him.
Yeah, he wasn’t the smartest
dog, but he was adorable. – ( audience laughter )
– But… A lot like you. ( audience laughter ) Actually,
you should’ve kept him. You should’ve kept him. I should’ve. It could’ve
been, like, I know, together we could’ve
been this amazing team.. But… basically it’s about,
like, you know,the laughter and, like,
the joking.
And laughing in the
face of discomfort is like,
is a skill that we both have.And we had an amazing
time out there.
You know, like, Alex is
one of my best friends.
And he kinda likes me.You know, tolerate. – Tolerates me.
– ( audience laughter ) It’s worth adding that
last photo. We rode past that little section
probably six times for Cedar, who put his iPhone
into a pile of cow poop, propped up just
perfectly with a timer. And then, like, we would ride by and this thing would
fall off the poop. – He’d be like, “Oh!”
– ( audience laughter ) And he’d like set it up again. And I was like,
“Really, do we have to–” But then it turns
out it was a nice photo. – Yeah, yeah.
– ( audience laughter ) But what you can’t see is
all the poop piled up
underneath there… It’s a poop-pod,
it’s like revolutionary. – ( audience laughter )
– Yeah. It’s ground breaking. So, if you ever see
cow patty in the ground – and you need to get that shot.
– It’s like guerilla filmmaking. – It is.
– You know, just… Yeah. But the Navajo land was, like,
it was really cool.I mean, some of the
most iconic peaks are there,
like Ship Rock here,
which was the largest tower
that we climbed.
Alex:It’s like a mountain…
– It’s like a mountain.
– …more so than a tower.
– Yeah.
The Navajo Nation definitely
had more of the feel of
the Wild West
than, like, the established
climbing areas that we were in.
In fact, at one point Alex got
chased down on horseback– Yeah, both of us. So, the thing with the Navajo
Nation is that you kinda need like a guide or somebody
to give you permission to access all these towers.
So, we had this Navajo climber with us who reassured us
that it was totally fine, you know, he knew
this guy that knew this guy and it was fine.
And so, he drove in to this tower in a truck. And then,
we were, like, biking behind. And basically the shepherd
that owned the land saw the truck go by,
and got kind of fired up and then saw us
biking really slowly. He just like jumped on his
horse, like, with no saddle, no anything and just
tore ass across the desert to, like, ride us down
and yell at us. It was like… It definitely
felt like the Wild West. I was, like,
I had headphones in and I could, like, look over and I was like, “Whoa! – There’s a dude on a horse
– ( audience laughter ) like going superfast
and yelling at me.” And I kinda, like,
my first instinct was, like, just look forward and hope
that he’s not coming towards me,
you know? I was like, “If I don’t
make eye contact,
he won’t notice.” And so I keep pedaling but that actually just
like made him more upset. Understandably. And so,
I mean, it worked out fine. Basically, you paid
him and it worked out fine. ( audience laughter ) But that’s kind of the thing
with climbing access there, is that it’s a little more
nebulous than like
on BLM land or, you know, any of the other
places that we were climbing. – Yeah.
– And then eventuallysomehow, someway
we finished and then
started the solar portion of it.And, it was a really cool way
to finish the trip,
I thought. I guess, like,
you know, if I was gonna, like,
leave you guys with, like,any lessons or perhaps
cautionary tales
from our experience,I think it’s, like,
I would just say that, “Yeah, we’re professional
climbers. And, you know, we do stuff like
this for a living, which we’re very lucky to do. But anyone can plan
their own Sufferfest. You know, anybody can
come up with a crazy, audacious idea, a set of goals. Maybe it has
nothing to do with climbing, or biking, or anything,
you know, it really can be anything. And then if you just,
if you just chip away at it, one step at a time,
you might injure yourself. ( laughs )No, but you might pull it off,
you know?”
And so,
I just hope that, you know,
people have their
own Sufferfest,
to have their own
crazy experience
and yeah…And Sufferfest Three? – No.
– ( audience laughter ) – Okay. All right.
– We’re still working on it. Coming up with good ideas. Give it a… give it a few more months
and I’ll have him bagged. But yeah, I hope you guys enjoyed the slideshow
and enjoyed the film. – Cool.
– ( applause ) ( outro music )

100 thoughts on “Sufferfest: 700 Miles of Pain and Glory | Nat Geo Live”

  1. The roped stuff is mad, but this! Well i hope that one day i'm not watching a sad video, because this stuff is on the EDGE!


  3. I kinda smirked when they showed the picture of the two with their bikes and wearing helmets (which is obviously the right thing to do) and I thought "really now? You do all that crazy free climbing but when you ride a bike you better wear a helmet?!?" :p

  4. What Alex does to help other less fortunate people makes him more of a hero to me then being the king of rock climbing… He seems like a real human that truely cares about helping others, and if rock climbing makes him this sort of person then "Rock On" ALex 🙂

  5. I could imagine someone panicking and falling off! I’d be afraid that would happen to me. I’d like to think I’m mentally tough in stressful situations, but I’ve never liked heights like this and I don’t like being in tight spaces.

  6. alex being stuck on that ledge having an anxiety attack has got to be the worst acid trip ive ever heard of….my palms are sweaty and i feel like im having a panick attack

  7. Alex Honnold = Zeus . Alex IS a God that walks and climbs among us mortals. Thank you for choosing our planet Alex !

  8. I write this with the most respect to Alex , I see him like the Sheldon Cooper of climbing. In his own world so nice and relaxed and the biggest authority in the matter. Cheers

  9. it's nice to see the climbers use a ladder incorrectly in installing the solar on the Navajo reservation. They were using it backwards. I know it was safe enough for them. Class 3.

  10. The Navajo nation doesn't look any better off now than in Geronimo's time. Doesn't look they get any assistance from the government.

  11. Awesome Hey Alex I heard you say That the things you see and the things you touch are the things you believe on. Please take a minute of your time and read a little book call Bible in the book of Romans and on ..Trust me my friend you will see things and life much different.. And i will asure you that you will Love climbing more..

  12. Alex having a “nervous breakdown” is just called being a normal person like you and I. Yeah, what ARE you doing up there?!

  13. Nice, I've got my first meeting with the Red Rock search and rescue team April 4th. Really looking forward to it ???

  14. Whoever threw that puppy out on the side of the road should get the death penalty. We shouldn't wait for them to do something terrible to a human being. Studies prove someone that can do something so horrible are sociopaths and often are or turn into serial killers. Yep just kill them. P.O.S.

  15. What is the expected duration of the lightbulbs…how long will they last ?…..cant imagine there are too many shops close by .

  16. How awesome is it in a huge vast desert you have too pee in the exact same location you hear a puppy whimpering ..! That’s amazing thank god !

  17. What kind of a scumbag would dump a puppy on the side of the road. Thankfully these fine men found him. Such an Epic adventure these guys are no joke ! Living life to the fullest.

  18. I feel as if I have already started my own sufferfest, I walk everywhere in the city unless ill be late if i don't take transport. I do this also to keep motivating myself to learn to drive.

  19. When they climbed the first tower I almost cried, Independence Monument. It was the tower my grandpa filmed me climb when I was 16. And he recently died . Epic Trip! For You Guys!

  20. I swear, some Navajo’s embarrass us. Instead of quickly yelling at people why not approach them peacefully and just see why they are out there. I hunt a lot on the Navajo Nation and deal with rude grazing permit holders all the time. FYI most trust land on the Navajo Nation is not owned by grazing permit lease holders, however before you go rock climbing definitely contact the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources and find a Navajo person who can go along with you. There are some amazing sandstone and volcanic spires to rock climb!

  21. Stick to the climbing and filming and forget about delivering presentations. Over-enthusiastic, self-indulgent and nervously irritating.

  22. Mate u have nothing else to prove please , stop mate your the best at wot u do you’ve achieved wot u wanted hang up the boots bro god bless you

  23. When your wife makes more money than you ever will and rely on your friend almost killing themselves to make a living

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