• Outdoors Outdoors

Professional climber Alex Honnold shows off his new wheels after wrecking his iconic Free Solo van: ‘We all make mistakes’

“It’s hard to imagine going back to burning gas in a confined space.”

“It’s hard to imagine going back to burning gas in a confined space."

Photo Credit: Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold’s iconic van from “Free Solo” is no longer.

In an interview with The Cool Down, Honnold revealed that he wrecked the van, his home for years and a central character in the 2018 documentary, which chronicled Honnold’s incredible first-ever free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. 

“A few years ago, I wrecked the van from Free Solo by accident, which was a bit of a botch on my part, but we all make mistakes sometimes,” Honnold told us. “But then right afterwards, I discovered that my wife was pregnant and we were having a daughter. So we needed a different van anyway because our current van didn’t have a car seat.” 

Honnold’s new and improved van is not only a more family-friendly ride, but it’s tricked out with sustainability features that help Honnold live a cleaner and simpler life when he’s on the road. 

A large array of solar panels powers 100% of the van’s electricity.  

It’s slightly larger, with seats for potentially two babies, as well as a little sleeping cubby for baby June. 

“She’s surprisingly happy in there,” Honnold told us. 

The van also has an induction stove, which Honnold boasts is much faster than a gas stove and a fast way to warm up milk for the baby. (Wow, how times have changed since “Free Solo.”) 

“It’s hard to imagine going back to burning gas in a confined space,” Honnold said. 

“It’s hard to imagine going back to burning gas in a confined space."
Photo Credit: Alex Honnold

It was living in his OG van where the sustainability lightbulb went off for him — and he made the decision to donate one-third of his income to climate solutions, via his nonprofit, The Honnold Foundation. (Read his op-ed about his journey here.) 

Honnold, who is partnering with The Cool Down to make it easier for people to make climate-friendly changes in their lives, also decided to make changes in his own life to live more simply and sustainably.  

Just as Honnold keeps a dedicated journal, or “ticklist,” of his climbs, Honnold also keeps a “sustainability ticklist,” tracking lifestyle changes he’s made over time to lower his impact. 

That includes eating mostly vegetables, driving an electric car (a Rivian), composting with his Vitamix FoodCycler, and buying less clothes or repairing them when possible. 

His sustainability philosophy? Perfection is the enemy of progress, and start small. 

“Taking any step at all is better than doing nothing,” he said, “so start with something easy and work up.”

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider