It was an epic night for the outdoor industry last night as the much-heralded film Free Solo, which follows Alex Honnold’s two-year quest to do what many thought was impossible: climb Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Cap with nothing but a chalk bag.

Free Solo has earned more than $16M at the box office since it was released by National Geographic in September 12018.

Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi seemed stunned as they made their way to the mic to give their acceptance speech, along with colleagues Evan Hayes, Shannon Dillon and Honnold and his girlfriend Sanni McCandless. Indeed, they were up against some heavyweight contenders: Of Fathers and Sons; Hale Country This Morning, This Evening; Minding the Gap; and RBG, the biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Chin let an “Oh, shit,” slip (it was bleeped out) and reminded his wife to breathe. Chai Vasarhelyi then thanked National Geographic for hiring women and people of color, as well as the couple’s two children, and Sanni McCandless. ‘You climbed your own mountain that day,” she said. “This film would be so boring without you, I’m just saying.”

Throughout the night, as they addressed the “Thank You Cam” and the Press Room after the ceremony, Chin’s surprise at having won the award is apparent and constant.

“It’s completely surreal,” he said on stage during the press briefing that followed the awards. “We’ve spent most of our lives climbing in wild landscapes around the world and to be embraced in this community, we feel like interlopers. But it’s been amazing…it’s because we threw our hearts into making this film. The high angle team, we know what heart is about. We climb because we love it we’re passionate about it and the wild places that we go. I think that’s reflected in in the film and I think that’s why people embrace the film.”

When a reporter asked Chin to describe a scary moment during the production, he replied: “Hanging off the wall, I couldn’t see Alex below and I just had to trust that he was being perfect. We also had to carry the weight of the entire production being perfect because if we made any mistakes it could have been catastrophic, so there was a lot of pressure at that moment.”

When Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi get nabbed by the “Thank You Cam,” Chin took a moment to plug the importance of public lands: “We are so fortunate to work in play in places like Yosemite places that give us inspiration and joy and beauty and we hope this film is a reminder of why its so important to protect and preserve our wild places.

Huge congrats to the whole Free Solo team.

Watch the film online through Amazon Prime VideoiTunesYouTube, and Google Play.


Alex Honnold

How filmmakers shot 'Free Solo'

From holds the width of two quarters on their sides to Alex Honnold's big smiles throughout the climb, filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi planned a whole system to capture all the details of the feat. Hear about it in this latest video. If you can't get enough, more

Alex Honnold

360 degrees of Alex Honnold

In National Geographic's new 360-degree video, watch Alex Honnold free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Hear the crunch of gravel under his feet as he approaches the formation. Hear the wind as he moves from hold to hold. The seven minutes of footage is narrated by more