American rock climber Alex Honnold has said he was “aware that the consequences were higher” than normal when he embarked on a scientific expedition for National Geographic show Arctic Ascent.
Honnold, 38, the only person to climb the 3,200ft sheer granite wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes, scales a 3,750ft sea cliff in the new docuseries.
In the three-part programme, he embarks on an expedition to Greenland to cross a giant glacier, collect scientific data and ascend a 1,500ft rock wall that is believed to have never been climbed before.
Along the way, Honnold meets the scientists working on the frontline of climate change to see the impacts of rapid ice melting.
Discussing the climb, Honnold told the PA news agency: “It is a very remote location but it felt the same as any other climbing, where you’re just trying to make sure you don’t get hurt.
“Because even if you’re close to a hospital, you still don’t want to break your leg.
“In general, I try my best to avoid injury and I feel like the whole team was always avoiding injury.
“But we were definitely aware that the consequences were higher if anything were to go sideways.
“It still felt like normal.
“So whether it’s a super remote location or not it’s, either way, something you’re talking about with your team nonstop.”
During filming, some of the team’s gear got stuck and had to be left behind.
Discussing the experience, Honnold said: “For me, it wasn’t scary at all… for everybody else, it wasn’t sketchy, it wasn’t dangerous, but it was frustrating to have to climb on a wall like that with none of the equipment.
“You know, in a way, it was as if they were having a 1970s mountain climbing experience.
“They just were limited in the equipment that they had, and it’s still doable, it’s still safe. They’re not in danger but it just kind of sucks.
“I mean, as a climber, you’re making these kinds of decisions and managing risk all the time anyway.
“But that was kind of the nature of a complicated expedition like this.”
He added: “The whole point of the journey was to explore the landscape and navigate across the glaciers and see the place and get a real feeling for the place.
“But by doing an expedition like that, there’s just a lot more factors.
“You wind up having to move gear between different places and get picked up by boats in different places.
“And because the weather is so bad all the time, you just run the risk of of being separated from your gear.”
Honnold is known for being the subject of hit 2018 documentary Free Solo, which documented his journey to becoming the first person to scale the world-famous El Capitan without any ropes.
Arctic Ascent With Alex Honnold concludes on National Geographic on Sunday February 11 at 9pm.