Sufferfest With Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright

By Rock and Ice | May 28th, 2015

Sufferfest 1: Climbing California’s 14ers by Bike With Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright

Sufferfest 2: Desert Alpine, AKA 34 Pieces of Choss and 5 Horrendous Life Experiences

 

“Punish your body to perfect your soul” 

-Mark Twight, leading American alpinist in the 1990s

 

“My highest hope is to inspire others to do a trip. Life is short, go have a crazy experience.”

Suffering is the specialty of Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright. They took on an ambitious and crazy human powered adventure to summit all of California’s 14,000-foot peaks via technical climbing routes, with no ropes, linking the peaks by bike, with no prior biking experience.

“We grossly underestimated how hard it would be,” Wright told Rock and Ice, “but I’m really grateful to have had this adventure with Honnold!”

Less than a year later, they were at it again with a goal to climb 45 of the American Southwest’s most iconic Desert Towers, via their most difficult routes—the misery of their last sufferfest dulled by time.

“Your whole body ends up getting worked,” Wright says. “It takes everything you got, both physically and mentally, which is part of the charm and challenge.

“My highest hope is to inspire others to do a trip. Life is short, go have a crazy experience.”


Q&A with Cedar Wright:

RI: Who came up with the idea for Sufferfest?

Alex [Honnold] and I came up with the idea when we were on a climbing trip in Cochamó, Chile. We started talking about our impact as climbers on the planet and felt guilty since we travel so much. We wondered if it would be possible to do a major, low-impact adventure. Honnold had always wanted to do a bike tour, so we thought it would be cool to link up a bunch of climbs by bike. The more we talked about it, the more serious it became.

Originally we wanted to do something in the Cascades but it was the wrong time of year for weather, so we decided to do all the [California] 14ers instead.

We both bought bikes [laughs]; we had no real clue what we were doing. We grossly underestimated how hard it would be.

I had no intent to make a film from it. I brought a camera along and shot handheld footage, thinking I would use it later for slideshows or a short video, but thought ‘Wow, this is kind of an amazing, special trip.’

The footage grew into an entertaining film and Sufferfest 1 was born.

Our main objective was to have fun and not take it too seriously and I think that came across in the film. It has comic value; a road trip, buddy trip kind of story. I’m really grateful to have had this adventure with Honnold.

The response to the film has been great so far. I think people enjoy watching professional climbers out of their element, getting worked. And the whole world loves to see Honnold.


RI: How about Sufferfest 2?

We thought it’d be fun to do another, this time with more actual climbing, and cameramen. I came up with the idea of climbing desert towers, hitting all the classics.

Honnold was also excited about the idea because of his sustainability non-profit [Honnold Foundation]. He was working on a solar project with the Navajo Nation [Northern Navajo Solar Entrepreneurs] so the trip was a perfect way for him to get involved physically, hands-on, instead of just raising money, which was another incentive for the trip.

We chose which towers we wanted to climb, the biking route and started out.

Initially we though, ‘Oh well, this won’t be as hard as Sufferfest 1. It’ll be a pleasure trip’ but we were nuked for the three weeks we were out there.

It was miserable at times with the wind and terrible weather, but I’m glad to have done it!


RI: Which had more suffering, Sufferfest 1 or Sufferfest 2?

I think Honnold would say Sufferfest 1 since it had way more hiking, but for me, maybe Sufferfest 2 since we were climbing a lot of rock at a higher level.

Both were hard in different ways. It’s a toss up.


RI: What was the most painful part?

Your whole body ends up getting worked; it’s a full-body challenge. It takes everything you got, both physically and mentally, which is part of the charm and challenge.

For me, the worst was the extreme ass pain from biking. I had these terrible saddle sores that were so painful. Afterwards, I learned there’s anti-chafe cream that bikers use, but didn’t know it at the time. It was all a learning experience.

It’s a life experience. When you’re out there, two days feels like a week.

There was so much action packed into a short time, which was definitely part of the charm.


RI: Are there plans for a Sufferfest 3 in the works?

If I can convince Honnold to do another [laughs]. There are no definitive plans, but we’ve talked about teaming up again, not any time soon though. You have to forget how terrible the last one was first.

Maybe something to do with sea kayaking, since we haven’t had a water element yet. We’ve also thought about winter objectives.

Who knows—we’ll come up with an adventure and see if we can pull it off.

Our philosophy behind these trips is to come up with a crazy idea and plug away at it. When you go out and try, piece-by-piece, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

I never thought Sufferfest would have such a broad reach, but its appeal has extended beyond the climbing community. Hearing that people are planning their own sufferfests was the greatest compliment.

My highest hope is to inspire others to do a trip. Life is short, go have a crazy experience.

 

For more information on the Honnold Foundation and Alex Honnold’s current projects, visit http://www.honnoldfoundation.org/ – mission

 


Sufferfest 1 & 2

Documentary, 44 minutes (combined length)

Sufferfest 1: Climbing California’s 14ers by Bike With Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright

Follow Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright on an ambitious human powered adventure to summit all of California’s 14,000 foot peaks via technical climbing routes, with no ropes! New to the sport of biking, and having underestimated the scope of the challenge, Alex and Cedar soon spiral down a rabbit hole of sunburn, suffering, and a seemingly endless test of their mental and physical endurance.

Sufferfest 2: Desert Alpine, AKA 34 Pieces of Choss and 5 Horrendous Life Experiences

Less than a year after enchaining the fifteen tallest peaks in California, by bike, Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright have forgotten that it was their worst trip ever and for god knows what reason…they are at it again, this time attacking an ambitious goal to climb 45 of the American Southwest’s most iconic Desert Towers, via their most difficult routes…in an epic and scenic bike journey that takes them through Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. They experienced it all: gale force winds, hard climbing, snow in the desert, a puppy, huge phallic towers, loose rock, and Honnold’s bare ass. What more could you ask for? 

 
CLICK HERE to download Sufferfest 1 and 2 from Vimeo On Demand

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