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National Geographic Secures Exclusive Access to the Historic Event Reporting First from the Field for National and Filming the Full Story for an Upcoming National Geographic Documentary Film and National Geographic Magazine Story
Sat Jun 03 2017 17:50:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

(WASHINGTON, DC / YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA – June 3, 2017) National Geographic’s continued commitment to bold, awe-inspiring and premium content (literally) reached new heights today, documenting the first-ever free solo climb of El Capitan’s most significant and challenging route, ascending the sheer 3,000 -foot vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park.  Professional rock climber Alex Honnold (@alexhonnold) completed the audacious mission in 3 hours 56 minutes, while National Geographic photographer, critically acclaimed filmmaker and world-class climber in his own right Jimmy Chin (@jimmy_chin) and award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi filmed the dramatic journey alongside him. The historic event was first reported today by and was captured for National Geographic Documentary Films’ upcoming feature film SOLO (working title), produced by Vasarhelyi, Chin, Shannon Dill, Evan Hayes, Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. The climb and preparation have also been documented for an upcoming National Geographic magazine feature.

Scheduled to premiere in theaters, followed by a global broadcast release on National Geographic channels in 171 countries and 45 languages, the documentary promises an intimate, unflinching portrait of the free soloist as he prepares to and then achieves his lifelong dream: to climb the face of the world’s most famous rock … without a rope. Honnold is singular in his ability to climb the world’s most daunting rock walls in a style known as free soloing — climbing without the use of ropes, gear or a partner — what many consider to be the absolute purest form of climbing. His list of mind-bending free solos already makes him the greatest free soloist to ever live, and arguably, one of the most visionary and talented athletes of our time. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter using @NGC_PR.

“Alex’s passion to push himself to the edge of what is humanly possible, to continually redefine the limits set for him, encompasses everything we represent at National Geographic,” said Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production for National Geographic channels. “He is a true explorer in every sense of the word, one who fully embodies the pioneering spirit we have championed at National Geographic for more than 129 years. Alex’s feat is nothing short of historic, and when people see the extreme preparation and indomitable human spirit we captured for our upcoming movie they will truly be in awe.”

Directed by Chin and Vasarhelyi, directors of the critically acclaimed and Sundance Audience Award-winning film “Meru,” SOLO (wt) will take audiences closer than they have ever been to Alex’s breathtaking feats and document the pinnacle challenge of his quietly meditative yet death-defying career. From the Great Arch of the Getu Valley in China to the High Atlas Mountains in Taghia, Morocco, to Yosemite Valley, witness the intense physical and psychological preparation required to attempt the impossible. The film examines the thousands of calculations Honnold must make during a climb — everything, including each finger and toe placement on dime-sized rock edges thousands of feet up a rock wall, has to be perfectly planned and executed in order for him to succeed.

National Geographic has a long history of documenting Honnold’s daring quests. He was named Adventurer of the Year in 2010, and he was on the cover of National Geographic magazine (shot by Chin) in May 2011 for a story on Yosemite superclimbers. And under the National Geographic Partners umbrella, using the combined media properties of National Geographic, we can now document his endeavors in more ways than ever before. In fact, SOLO (wt) will be featured in every aspect of National Geographic’s media portfolio, providing an unrivaled amount of coverage for the historic climb and all of the preparation behind it.

SOLO (wt) is produced by Itinerant Media and Parkes/MacDonald Productions for National Geographic Channels. For Itinerant Media producers are Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi, for Parkes/MacDonald producers are Evan Hayes, Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. Shannon Dill is also a producer. For National Geographic, Tim Pastore is President, Original Programming and Production and Matt Renner is executive producer.

Media Contacts:
Erin Griffin, National Gegraphic, O: 202-912-6681, C: 202-316-9707,

Charlie Olsky, Cinetic Media, O: 646-230-6722 C: 917-545-7260, E:

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About National Geographic Documentary Films:

National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 171 countries and 45 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest

About  Itinerant Media:

Itinerant Media, founded by the husband-and-wife team of Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi, is a film, television and commercial production company. Chin is a professional alpinist and photographer who has participated in and documented numerous breakthrough expeditions around the world. Vasarhelyi is a prolific, award-winning documentary director, whose first film A Normal Life won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003. Together, Chin and Vasarhelyi directed and produced the film Meru, the highest grossing independent documentary of 2015 and winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award.

About Parks/MacDonald Productions:

A three-time Academy Award nominee, Walter Parkes is a motion picture producer, writer and former studio head at DreamWorks Pictures, which he ran from the company’s inception to 2005 alongside his wife & producing partner, Laurie MacDonald.

Films produced or executive-produced by Parkes & MacDonald include Davis Guggenheim’s HE NAMED ME MALALA, FLIGHT, THE MEN IN BLACK franchise, GLADIATOR, MINORITY REPORT, THE MASK OF ZORRO, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, THE TERMINAL, ROAD TO PERDITION, THE RING franchise, THE KITE RUNNER, AMISTAD, TWISTER and Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, among many others. In total, films produced or executive-produced by Parkes and MacDonald have earned in excess of $6 billion in worldwide box office.  Walter Parkes was also nominated for an Academy Award for directing, editing and producing the documentary THE CALIFORNIA REICH.  Their upcoming slate includes a multitude of films including BARBIE, MEN IN BLACK 4, ZORRO, THE GOOD SPY, UNDONE to be directed by Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald and COUSTEAU in collaboration with the Jacques Cousteau Society, as well the television adaptation of the 1992 hit SNEAKERS, an TV adaptation of Jeff Smith’s acclaimed graphic novel RASL, and LONGNECKS with writer-director John Lee Hancock.

In 2009, Parkes + MacDonald teamed with Image Nation Abu Dhabi to form Parkes + MacDonald/Image Nation, which created a financing structure that would allow partners to fund and collaborate directly with authors and rights-holders in the development of screenplays.

In 2016, Parkes+MacDonald created a partnership with Studio Canal for a slate of four upcoming features including Ol Parker's THE GREAT PRETENDER, an adaptation of Carol Reed & Graham Greene’s 1948 film FALLEN IDOL, HINDENBURG and David Farr’s COLDHEART.

Evan Hayes is President of Production (Film & TV) for Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation.  He has served as a producer or executive on films such as Universal Pictures EVEREST which chronicled the 1996 climbing disaster, as well as SENNA, UNITED 93, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, ATONEMENT, PAUL, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, STATE OF PLAY, A SERIOUS MAN, FROST/NIXON, BURN AFTER READING and the Starz’s television series OUTLANDER among others.

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