Outbound Collective logo

'Free Solo' Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

"This film is for everyone who believes in the impossible!"

By: Liam McNally + Save to a List

Whether you're a climber or not, if you saw 'Free Solo', you can't help but be in complete awe of what Alex Honnold was able to do that June day in 2017. Climbing El Capitan's Freerider route is an outstanding physical feat alone. Take into consideration the risk factor of climbing without ropes, and it's an unbelievable accomplishment of mental fortitude. 

While the performance itself is enough to make headlines and take your breath away, it's the film's emotional content and storytelling by directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin that set it apart from many documentary films covering action sports. They tell a story beyond the wall, around the emotional toll this project took on Alex Honnold and his loved ones, and build an incredible amount of tension leading up to the big moment. From his childhood and family, to his relationship with his girlfriend Sanni McCandless, to Honnold's actual brain physiology, this climbing film is hardly about climbing alone, which is why it's been thrust into the mainstream and why it took home the Oscar last night. 

Congratulations to directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, and the entire Free Solo cast and crew!  

Cover photo courtesy of National Geographic

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold

A golden happy hour on the California coast

Hannah Sibley

Lake Tahoe's trifecta: 3 Days of adventure at Zephyr Cove

Ranz Navarro

10 Ways to make camping in Yosemite National Park even better

Meghan White