If you didn’t happen to catch the Academy Awards last night, you missed an odd awards show that didn’t feature a host, started with a rousing rock and roll number by the surviving members of Queen, and included some of the strangest acceptance speeches in recent memory. You also missed a historical win in the category for Best Documentary, as Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi took home the Oscar for their fantastic climbing film Free Solo.
For those who have been living under a rock over the past six months, Free Solo is the film that follows climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to scale El Capitan in Yosemite without the use of ropes. The climb itself is considered by many to be amongst the most impressive accomplishments in any sport ever, transcending rock climbing and finding appeal with a much larger audience. Since it’s release last fall, Honnold has made the rounds on numerous podcasts and television talk shows to promote the documentary film, giving rock climbing a chance to really enjoy a moment with a crowd that wouldn’t normally care or notice what goes on in the sport.
If you did see the awards show last night, you may have noticed that Alex was in attendance and went up on stage with Jimmy and Elizabeth when they accepted their Oscars. That isn’t all that unusual, but it was strange too see Alex in a tuxedo. He has rarely been spotted wearing anything other than climbing gear or outdoor apparel. Never fear though, we have it on good authority that Honnold was wearing a suit designed by the team at The North Face and using the company’s new Futurelight fabrics.
Major congratulations to Jimmy and Elizabeth for this impressive win. This is a great coming of age moment for outdoor and adventure films, showing that the men and women working in this industry are doing great things and telling great stories. Go give Free Solo a watch in recognition of this honor, and don’t forget to watch their earlier film Meru as well. It is fantastic too.