Free Solo. The movie, quadrupedal gait, and crapping your pants (all in one blog post).

I recently crapped my pants at the movie theater. Thanks Alex Honnold.

i have been waiting a year to see Free Solo on IMAX. I saw it on Saturday night. The theater quickly took on a particular odor. Yes, Alex lives, finishes the climb, you know this at the start. But the last 30 minutes of the full length documentary has you riveted, palm sweating, writhing in your seat, saying things inside your head like “he is 3000 feet up, there is no rope, he has nowhere to go, he is doomed”. And then he is not. I promise you this, you will not believe what you see. Please do not see this on anything but IMAX if at all possible, El Capitan and Alex deserve this format if at all possible. I promise, you will get the same pit in your gut that you get when you look over the top of the highest of roller coasters.

Are there possible neurologic differences in climbers such as Alex Honnold as compared to other quadruped species? Primarily, there is suspect of an existing shift in the central pattern generators because of the extraordinary demand on pseudo-quadrupedal gait of climbing because of the demand on the upper limbs and their motorneuron pools to mobilize the organism up the mountain. We know these quadrupedal circuits exist. In 2005 Shapiro and Raichien wrote “the present work showed that human QL(quadrupedal locomotion) may spontaneously occur in humans with an unimpaired brain, probably using the ancestral locomotor networks for the diagonal sequence preserved for about the last 400 million years.”

Some research has determined is that in quadrupeds the lower limbs displayed reduced orientation yet increased ranges of kinematic coordination in alternative patterns such as diagonal and lateral coordination. This was clearly different to the typical kinematics that are employed in upright bipedal locomotion. Furthermore, in skilled mountain climbers, these lateral and diagonal patterns are clearly more developed than in study controls largely due to repeated challenges and subsequent adaptive changes to these lateral and diagonal patterns. What this seems to suggest is that there is a different demand and tax on the CPG’s and cord mediated neuromechanics moving from bipedal to quadrupedal locomotion. There seemed to be both advantages and disadvantages to both locomotion styles. Moving towards a more upright bipedal style of locomotion shows . . . .

Here, read the entire post I wrote several years ago, instead of me piecmeal it here.