Alex Honnold, the world-renowned rock climber documented in the Oscar-winning film Free Solo, is up to some more death-defying adventures.
The two-part virtual reality “experience” Alex Honnold: The Soloist VR, set for release March 3, follows the California native on solo ascents on two continents, “in some of the most remote and wildest locations possible.” The film from Jonathan Griffith Productions will be distributed on Oculus TV and available on Meta Quest VR headsets.
“The film is the result of two years of meticulous planning and crafting of the VR experience from Jonathan Griffith, the award-winning producer of Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World,” noted a release. “In the film, Griffith employed the latest in high resolution 3D 360°… He purposefully kept the film as raw as possible to use the power of VR to bring the viewer into the scene in an authentic way.”
Griffith has gained considerable experience on mountain climbing films, including his Everest VR documentary, The Alpinist (2021), and the Reel Rock TV series.
“After seeing how audiences were enthralled by Alex in Free Solo, we thought that VR could bring people even closer to being on the wall with Alex as he continues to push the boundaries of the sport and human achievement,” Griffith said in a statement. “Alex Honnold: The Soloist VR brings an unprecedented engaging experience combining the unique immersion of VR with Alex’s gripping adventures for a truly unique viewing experience.”
The VR film is broken into two episodes:
“In Episode 1 of Alex Honnold: The Soloist VR, viewers begin by getting to know Honnold, before following him to Yosemite National Park, home of the famed El Capitan, and Red Rocks. Viewers are then brought to Europe where Honnold teams up with Swiss climber Nicolas Hojac to tackle some of the toughest free solo climbs in the Dolomites.
“Episode 2 culminates with Honnold and Hojac battling a snowy and wet summer in Europe while they attempt to free solo American Direct on the Aiguille du Dru in Chamonix and the Kuffner arete on Mont Maudit – the Cursed Mountain – the second-highest peak in the Mont Blanc Massif.”
All in a day’s work for Honnold, who became the first person to ascend Yosemite’s El Capitan rock face without aid of any ropes, the dramatic adventure chronicled in Free Solo, the National Geographic film directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
“For anyone wanting to take a deeper dive into the world of free solo climbing, The Soloist VR, is the perfect opportunity to do so from the comfort of your own home,” Honnold noted. “Viewers come along for the ride as we climb some of the most beautiful rock faces on earth. The film is so immersive that it must be experienced to be truly understood.”
A behind the scenes documentary about the VR film, Making the Soloist VR, will debut on Red Bull TV, also on March 3.
“When I watched the first versions of Alex Honnold: The Soloist VR in Meta Quest 2, the palms of my hands immediately started to sweat, and I knew the team had created something completely new,” said executive producer Eric Cheng, Immersive Media Lead at Meta, the parent company of Oculus and Facebook. “Griffith’s raw and authentic style makes viewers feel like they are there with Honnold and Hojak in some of the most gorgeous alpine scenery on the planet.”
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