Do I Need to Choose Between My Child and My Passions?

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This Q&A originally ran in How We Dad Now. You can read the other stories in the package here, as well as in our Summer 2022 issue.


How does parenting change you when you’ve built your life around climbing rock cliffs without a rope? We asked Alex Honnold, star of the 2018 documentary Free Solo, who became a father for the first time in February.


What’s harder, free soloing or parenting?

I would say that I’m less equipped for parenting so far. I just have a lot less practice. But soloing I’ve been doing a long time. Honestly, the whole process has given me a lot more respect for all parents.

Your daughter’s named June and was born in February…

Yeah, it’s confusing.

Do you plan to take her up on climbs?

We’ve been doing a lot of sport climbing: You hike to a cliff, then set up a picnic area at the cliff. She’s been coming to the cliff a fair amount, but she’s not going up. She mostly naps. She’s two months old. She can barely hold her neck up. But as soon as she’s able to walk, we’ll be taking her scrambling and things. At the base of these cliffs are boulders and other perfect things for kids to play on. Like, as soon as she’s able to move, she’ll be playing on rocks.

What if June isn’t really into that?

My wife and I talk about that. Obviously, we just want her to be passionate about something. No matter what, I want her at least to be confident outdoors. She’s going to be a competent hiker and feel comfortable in the wilderness. She’s gonna at least learn all the basics of rockcraft. Like, she has to know how to belay. That’s a bare minimum. And know how to rappel. And do all the things with ropes. But if she’s not passionate about climbing, that’s fine. As long as there’s something she’s excited about, I’ll be happy.

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