RunOut #20: Jim Reynolds’ Free Solo on Fitzroy Changes Everything/Nothing

If I told you a climber from California had free soloed three major formations in Patagonia—not only free soloing up them, but also free soloing down them, without using a rope to rappel—you’d be forgiven for thinking that I was talking about Alex Honnold.

In fact, that climber was Jim Reynolds, a guy I had never really heard too much about before now.

He’s a 25-year-old climber hailing from Weaverville, California. He works on the Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) team in the summer, wears rectangular frameless glasses, plays renditions of Slayer on a mandolin, and considers mental training to be wielding a wooden samurai katana in the sun-dappled light of a ponderosa forest behind the YOSAR campsite.

Last month Jim made a big statement in Patagonia. He free soled up, and down, Fitz Roy, St. Exupery, and Rafael-Juarez. He did so without any fanfare, Insta-spray, or Oscar trophy waiting for him back home.

Pretty bad ass.

I got to speak to Jim shortly after his groundbreaking ascents, and break this story with an article I wrote for National Geographic. In this episode, Chris and I go through some of the details of Jim’s incredible ascents, and naturally we got into a discussion about Free Solo, the now Oscar-winning documentary film.

But it is interesting to consider if the prominence of the film might influence our sport. Will the film be that extra jolt of motivation that pushes young, impressionable minds to go through with their crazy ideas?

Or are these artists of the mountains the free-thinking spirits they make themselves out to be, and are we the ones whose weak minds are sentencing us to lives of mediocrity and sin?

This is Andrew Bisharat, and you’re listening to The RunOut.

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