The ascent of Alex Honnold

Mountain climber Alex Honnold seems to defy gravity, scaling sheer, steep rock faces with no rope and apparently no fear

Long: Yeah, you're gonna have, you're gonna have to dial that one back really quickly.

Logan: Or else?

Long: Your diaphragm is gonna close, you're not gonna be able to breath. You have no chance. You're gonna die.

Alex learned how to control his fear at this climbing gym near his home in Sacramento, California, when he was just a boy.

[Honnold at gym: It's kinda funny coming back, I remember it being like a big cave.]

For seven years, this is where he came three hours a day, six days a week. He would climb until he was exhausted, then read old climbing magazines.

Honnold: That's all I was ever interested in really.

Logan: Your whole life?

Honnold: Yea. From when I started climbing, from when I was maybe ten or eleven, I don't even remember when it was so long ago, but, I mean that's all I ever was into, really.

Back then he was a shy, skinny kid with big ears.

Today, he's still skinny, but his five-foot, eleven-inch frame is 160 pounds of muscle. For someone his size, he has big hands...they have to carry his whole body weight when he's hanging off the rock.

Honnold: Yeah, I have pretty big fingers. So, it's hard to get it into a thin crack.

Logan: Show me.

Honnold: Well--

Logan: Were they like this before you started climbing?

Honnold: I don't think they were quite this big before I started climbing. I honestly think my connective tissue and stuff is like, gone.

Logan: Bigger?

Honnold: Like they just all gotten beefier, ya know? I think it's all the crack climbing, like torquing your finger in different ways.

He's acquired something akin to rock star status in the climbing world...

[Fan: Can I have your autograph?]

...where he always draws a crowd. This year he made the cover of "National Geographic." He's also in a nationwide ad campaign for the company "The North Face."

But the kid who dropped out of college and stole the family mini-van to go climbing has been slow to cash in on his success.