Last weekend, I finally got to watch Free Solo about Alex Honnold climbing El Cap without any ropes, harness or other protective equipment. In the Oscar-winning documentary, there are a number or amazing aerial shots (especially towards the end). I immediately wondered if they might have used a drone to get those shots. Later in the film, you even see a remote controller for a drone together with other equipment. And, in the credits, drone operator Nick Wolcott is mentioned. Did Jimmy Chin’s film crew indeed use a drone in Yosemite’s National Park? Were they able, perhaps with the help of National Geographic, to get permission to fly a drone and use it document Alex Honnold’s ascent of El Cap? As you probably know, flying drones in any of the National Parks in the U.S. is not allowed. Out of curiosity, I researched the documentary a bit to see what I could find out.
Btw – if you haven’t seen Free Solo yet, I can highly recommend it. To watch Alex climb El Cap is both nerve-wracking and unbelievable at the same time. Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and their crew did an amazing job documenting Alex’s journey to the top of El Cap.