Who Is Sanni McCandless? Everything To Know About 'Free Solo' Star Alex Honnold's Girlfriend

She's a supportive, badass girlfriend with an equally badass boyfriend.

Who Is Sanni McCandless? Everything To Know About 'Free Solo' Star Alex Honnold's Girlfriend YouTube

There’s an old saying that, behind every great man, is an even greater woman pushing him to be his best. So seems to be the case with Alex Honnold, the remarkable star of the award-winning film Free Solo, who has found true love with his equally remarkable girlfriend, Sanni McCandless.

Who is Sanni McCandless, Alex Honnold's girlfriend? 

We all were first introduced to her when she was featured in the Free Solo documentary alongside her boyfriend, where she proved she was supportive of her beloved’s passion for rock climbing.


She even engaged in some rock climbing of her own, and cheered Honnold on as he went on his famed El Capitan climb.

And during the 2019 holiday season, the couple took the next step in their relationship and got engaged. 

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But there’s more to McCandless than just her dating life. Let’s look at what we know about her.

She a native of North Carolina.

Cassandra “Sanni” McCandless was born in 1992 to Leslie Marijke McCandless and Jay McCandless, in North Carolina. Her parents, who met when they were both in UCLA’s grad school, formed the California-based company Suncastle Microwave.


And it’s obvious that McCandless learned what it meant to be a supportive, yet equal, partner from her parents, because according to Suncastle Microwave’s official website, “SunCastle Microwave, LLC combines the communication, organization, management skills, and enthusiasm of Marijke McCandless with the focused, energetic, highly creative, brilliance of Jay McCandless... unexpected innovations happen daily. We are dedicated to doing our best, playing nicely with others, and forging lasting relations.”

She’s undergone several career changes.

A woman is lucky when she’s able to undergo several career changes, so she can continue to follow her passions. And McCandless is one such woman who could change the professional course of her life with ease.

In an interview, she revealed that she moved to Seattle, Washington, to work with the software company EnergySavvy. After two years with the company, though, she left in 2016 to indulge her travel fancy.


“Two years into my job, I decided it was time to hit the road again for a year of rock climbing and general exploration. When my savings began running low, I realized I was ready to dive into the career I'd always dreamt of: life coaching. Now, I work part-time as coach and I'm a co-founder of the annual festival, Outwild. I split my time between living on the road in the van and my home life in Las Vegas, Nevada,” she said.

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She and Honnold met at a book signing.

People meet when they’re meant to meet — and McCandless and Honnold were meant to meet at one of his book signings.


McCandless gave an interview to Climb Magazine in 2019, where she detailed what would be their historic first meeting.

“Alex, she thought, was cute, so, when she and her girlfriend walked up to the table to have him sign their co-copy of his book, Sanni gave him her number, then bolted for the door,” the interview details.

“As they were leaving, a guy in line ran after her and said that Alex was all geeked that a cute girl gave him her number. Flattered and giggling, Sanni and her girlfriend departed to Seattle’s lamplit streets. Three weeks later, when Alex returned to Seattle for the final night of his book tour, he texted Sanni for a dinner date. She picked him up from the climbing gym, and Cedar Wright climbed in the back seat.”

They live in his van.


Though McCandless and Honnold call Las Vegas home, they have a rather unconventional living arrangement. Specifically, they live out of Honnold's van!

There aren’t a lot of women who would be happy with that living arrangement, to be sure, but McCandless is not like most women.

She’s not related to Chris McCandless.

The hiking community is familiar with Chris McCandless, the legendary hiker who explored the entire North American continent before dying of starvation in 1992 at the age of 24. His story was memorialized in the film Into the Wild, which starred Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless.

However, even though they have the same last name — and similar interests — Sanni and Chris are not related. But it doesn’t matter, because Sanni McCandless is a badass woman on her own!


They're engaged.



A post shared by Sanni McCandless (@sannimccandless) on Dec 25, 2019 at 12:43pm PST

Last Christmas, the couple were celebrating more than just the joyous holiday season, because Honnold had popped the question!

On Instagram, he wrote, "@sannimccandless agreed to marry me. Marry Christmas." 


McCandless also took to Instagram with her own post, writing, "He said, do you wanna keep doing what we’re doing? And I said, yes." 

Congrats are in order for the happily engaged couple! 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in April 2019 and was updated with the latest information.