Perhaps it is the fact that I am getting along in years, but my overall cynicism for many of those who espouse themselves as part of the solution is that they are full of shit. But I will tell you, in my opinion, Alex Honnold is the genuine article.

Alex was in St. George Friday for a book signing at The Desert Rat and a speaking engagement and slide show at the Eccles Center at Dixie State University.

His book, Alone on the Wall, written in first person narrative by himself and co-authored by climber and author, David Roberts, is an account of his remarkable career to date.

In the first chapter, Roberts writes:

“Alex Honnold, in short, is a climbing visionary, of the sort who comes along maybe once in a generation. He’s also smart, funny, a man with surprisingly little ego, and a person who wants to make the world a better place for people less privileged or talented than he is. Nearly everyone who knows or even just watches Alex likes him, because, as Jon Krakauer says, ‘He’s utterly genuine. There’s no bullshit there.”

And for what it is worth, I concur.

You know what it’s like when you are perhaps aware of someone’s accomplishments, but you feel some trepidation to meet them in person because you do not know what exactly to expect?

I expected Alex to be much like he is personified by many who know him and have written or spoke of him. He is curiously humble and gracious while all at once absent of insecurity in any way. A modest, meticulously well spoken and witty overachiever if you will.

But here is what I will take away from having spent a few hours observing him up close. He is just warming up in life and he is finding his voice. I may be out on a limb here, but I will say that his climbing legacy will be but one of the many notable contributions this man will bring to bear in this world.

Alex Honnold below the depleting Lewis Glacier while climbing Mt. Kenya. Photo by Dallas Hyland (Taken of the shot as displayed during Honnold’s slide show)

I have attended my share of such events. I have been sold a ticket to a documentary film that espoused itself to be a message about the environment that in actuality was a damn surfing film with a few honorable mentions to a cause. I have engaged enough would be non-profit organizations that appear more to me to be fronts for overgrown children who have latched on to a message to fund their endless adventures.

But Alex does nothing of the sort. He came to sign his book and share some slides about a recent climbing trip to Africa. He unapologetically made the visit about what it was, climbing.

But in his story, he shared his convictions about the world he lives in and the sustainability of how we all live in it. He puts words into action with his foundation, The Honnold Foundation, and only by way of inference does he suggest that you may care about these things too. It is not indirect necessarily, but it is refreshingly honest.

I am digging into his book. Perhaps I will have more to say in the weeks to come but for now, I can say I it was the simplest of forthright pleasures to meet him.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.