Is it a profile? A testament to the power of sports psychology and positive thinking? Sure. But it’s really the story of how a single human being does something that seems functionally impossible: riding a mountain bike up one of the most technically demanding descents known in the sport. (Watch the documentary embedded along with the story for the full Free Solo experience.)

Riding down it was a double-black-diamond tantrum. It zigged and zagged down a slickrock cliff that scraped the edge of a mesa. The prelude was an off-camber cascade with a steep hairpin turn to the right. After a chunky narrow chute came the moment of truth and pucker: a nearly 180-degree switchback on the precipice of a cliff. Trying to turn would jackknife the bike, so most riders would brake to a standstill, then try to hop and pivot. The final descent hugged a handlebar-scraping wall and plummeted down two slickrock slabs as steep as playground slides. The sandstone was blackened by skidding tires and polished by sliding butts.