UPDATED: National Geographic Channel is committed to live extreme-event programming. To that end, Nat Geo announced two such projects this morning on the first day of the TCA Summer TV Press Tour. Bob Ballard, aka “the guy who found the Titanic,” will make a dive into an underwater volcano off the coast of Granada. The volcano is so treacherous — a “ticking time bomb,” NatGeo calls it — that no ships are allowed within 10 miles of it, said National Geographic Channels CEO David Lyle. The live dive, Volcano Dive: Live will be telecast Sunday, November 17 and will cap Nat Geo’s celebration of the National Geographic Society’s 125th anniversary.
Additionally, rock climber Alex Honnold will climb one of the world’s highest skyscrapers, without a safety line, this fall, the network also announced. The news comes on the heels of Discovery’s recent special in which Nick Wallenda crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge. NatGeo will cover Honnold — a rock star in rock climbing circles — live on his ascent of some, as yet unknown, really tall building. That announcement:
(WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 24, 2013). Following the recent Emmy nomination for National Geographic Channel’s (NGC’s) exclusive, headline-grabbing live event, Space Dive with Felix Baumgartner, NGC President Howard T. Owens announced today the network’s next awe-inspiring stunt: a live telecast of acclaimed rock climbing superstar Alex Honnold’s attempt to scale one of the tallest buildings in the world. The two-hour unprecedented television event, Live Climb with Alex Honnold, is produced by Sender Films and will air live this fall globally on NGC.
Having redefined what is possible in rock climbing, Honnold brings his daring free soloing skills to a completely new realm, with an audacious plan to be the first person to climb one of the tallest buildings in the world (for safety reasons, the building will remain confidential until closer to the climb).
His remarkable climb will be shown in real time, with a team of expert vertical cameramen hanging in position at various points along the side of the building to film him up close as he scales the soaring tower of glass and steel, capturing every moment of drama along the way.
“I’ve always loved climbing in all forms and this is an amazing opportunity to push my own climbing into interesting new terrain. I’ve admired the aesthetics of sky scrapers my whole life; it’s great to be able to climb one” said Honnold.
Honnold is considered the greatest free solo climber on the planet, climbing massive rock walls without a rope and with zero chance of survival if he falls. The unassuming 27-year-old garnered international fame for his 2008 free solo ascent of Half Dome — a sheer 2,000-foot granite face in Yosemite National Park. Since then, his climbs have steadily increased in difficulty and scope, putting him in an elite class of modern day adventurers.
“When Alex brought us this incredible idea, it struck at the very heart of what a National Geographic global television event should be,” noted Owens. “Alex is the world’s premiere free-climber, and we are excited to celebrate his adventurous spirit as he tackles his next challenge.”
The live telecast will be filled out with pre-recorded segments and interviews that tell the amazing story of Alex Honnold’s life, traveling the world and accomplishing his daring feats; delve into the brain science behind Honnold’s unique ability to keep his cool in the face of danger; and follow his preparations for the wildest building climb ever attempted.
Alexander J. Honnold (age 27) is an American rock climber best known for his free solo ascents of big walls. He is one of the world’s most accomplished climbers and the holder of numerous world records for climbing. Named “Adventurer of the Year” by National Geographic in 2010, he is the only person to have ever solo-climbed the Yosemite Triple crown: Mt. Watkins, The Nose (El Capitan) and The Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome. The climb — about 6,500 feet out of the total 7,000 feet — was made at the world-record pace of 18 hours, 50 minutes and mostly without harness, ropes or gear. His uncanny ability to free solo climb the toughest mountain walls and faces in the world has set him apart from the rest of the climbing field. He has been profiled by “60 Minutes,” CNN, The New York Times, among others.