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Re: The New Yorker: Alex Honnold Tests the Peaks of Jersey City
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Honnold was staying at a hotel near the Empire State Building,


Jersey City digs weren't good enough? There are some pretty cringy quotes in that story, IMHO.

Posted on: 9/6 13:20
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The New Yorker: Alex Honnold Tests the Peaks of Jersey City
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Alex Honnold Tests the Peaks of Jersey City

The “free solo” climber has ascended the granite face of El Capitan. Next up: a luxury apartment building.

By Charles Bethea

It’s hard to get permission to climb skyscrapers without ropes. Recently, Alex Honnold got lucky. “It’s cooler here than I thought,” he said. He’d flown in from Seattle, and was sitting in a Jersey City diner wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Beside him was a worn backpack containing what he called “my light setup”—including a fifty-five-metre length of rope—and a copy of “Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism.” Honnold, who is thirty-three, with a boyish face and huge hands, specializes in “free soloing,” climbing without any ropes or safety gear. That’s how he ascended El Capitan, the three-thousand-foot granite face in Yosemite National Park, last summer—an event that the Times called “one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever.”

A National Geographic documentary about the climb, “Free Solo,” débuts this month. Honnold was making a detour before attending a screening of the film, in Manhattan, to “check out the local peaks,” by which he meant the Jersey City skyline. He has surveyed climbable buildings from Denver to Dubai. “New York is basically Yosemite,” he said. “Chicago is pretty legit, too.” Jersey City is more modest. The terrain included Trump Plaza, a brick high-rise that Honnold deemed “super boring.” In his opinion, the city’s most interesting steel-and-glass mountain is a seventy-story luxury apartment building called the Urby. Built two years ago, it is made up of a half-dozen cantilevered cubes, like a rickety tower of Jenga blocks.

“The position is sort of mega,” Honnold said. “Very exposed. It looks like I’d mostly be climbing the outside arête,” or corner. Some dangling would be involved. He’d scrutinized the windowsills earlier. “The edges are like the width of this fork,” he said. “Adequate, not great.”

Honnold had secured access to the building by accident, a few months earlier, when a friend invited him to a private ski club in Montana. “The mayor of Jersey City was there,” Honnold recalled. “We did archery together and had dinner. It was chill. At one point, he was, like, ‘Do you climb buildings ever? I’ve got a big building for you.’ ”

“I was drunk,” Mayor Steven Fulop explained, an hour later. He was pacing back and forth on an outdoor terrace adjacent to the ninth floor of the Urby. “That’s the honest truth. But I texted my friend, the developer—I said, ‘Dave, I’ve got this idea that’ll be good for the city. I’m gonna send you some YouTube videos’—and here we are.” Fulop wore a suit and was accompanied by a security detail. A few feet away, Honnold was preparing for a scouting climb before a small crowd of observers: a National Geographic staffer; David Barry, the developer; and Art Miccio, his construction supervisor. After putting on his climbing shoes and chalking his hands, Honnold conferred with Miccio about his potential routes.

“You’ve gotta remember, this was built by a bunch of union guys who might have been hung over,” Miccio warned. “You never know how something was fastened. Don’t take nothing for granted.” On the plus side, he said, “we’ve had enough storms these past few years that anything loose would have come off.”

“Right on,” Honnold said. He walked to the side of the building and started climbing, unroped, and assessing holds—“putzing around,” as he called it later.

“I have a place in Jackson Hole,” Barry said. “So I knew of Alex. But”—he pointed to the building behind him—“I don’t know how the hell you—”

Honnold dropped back onto the terrace. “It definitely goes,” he said, confirming the building’s climbability. “It’s kind of awesome. I can get from one window frame to the top of the next sill.”

The climb was scheduled for two weeks later. Miccio had sent Honnold the building’s plans, and Barry had assured him that window washers wouldn’t interfere. Residents, however, still needed to be sent a note of warning. “Once I decide what to tell them,” Barry said.

“Jersey City might send a swat team,” Miccio said.

“Not with the mayor on board,” Barry said. Fulop grinned.

Miccio made another suggestion: “I wouldn’t grab any of the H.V.A.C. units.”

Honnold was getting antsy. “Can I play around off the roof?” he asked. “Rappel in? Touch some stuff?” Everyone boarded an elevator.

On the roof, Honnold tied his rope to a steel stanchion, harnessed up, re-chalked his hands, and dropped off the side of the building. The group leaned over a barrier to watch.

“I’m appreciating his skill,” Barry said, nervously, as Honnold dangled alongside the building’s top floor, groping things.

He pulled himself back onto the roof fifteen minutes later. “It’s pretty engaging,” he said. “Non-trivial, for sure. This is totally changing my opinion of New Jersey.” He turned to Barry. “Your tenants have amazing taste.”

“Furnished models,” Barry said.

Honnold was staying at a hotel near the Empire State Building, and he paid it a visit before the evening screening. Looking up at the hundred-and-two-story structure, he couldn’t discern a viable way up. He shook his head. “Empire is officially on the back burner now.” ?

This article appears in the print edition of the September 10, 2018, issue, with the headline “Going Up.”

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201 ... -the-peaks-of-jersey-city


Posted on: 9/6 8:37
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