All images are stills from "The Last Tepui"; (photos/Disney+)

Scared of Spiders? Don’t Watch Alex Honnold’s ‘The Last Tepui’

Alex Honnold’s new Disney+ documentary helps climbers and nature-lovers celebrate Earth Day. Dr. Bruce Means’ behavior in it triggers arachnophobia.

First ascensionists deal with a lot. Encountering the rock in its natural state usually means peeling off loose pieces, gardening or removing plants up to tree size, and dealing with all kinds of critters and wildlife.

Doing adventurous first ascents in one of the lushest, most diverse habitats on Earth can understandably augment the potent effect.

That’s the case for Alex Honnold and friends, who guide a biologist on a mission to South America’s “islands in the sky” in their new show.

Alex Honnold as Jungle Climbing Guide

Disney+’s “The Last Tepui” stars Honnold and Dr. Bruce Means as they explore the Guiana Highlands in search of new species. “Tepui” translates to “house of the gods” in Pemon, the native language of Guyana’s Gran Sabana. The formations are impressive: steep-walled mesas, pouring waterfalls, hanging gardens, punching up to 1,000 feet out of elevated jungle below.

If you’re scared of the usual things (spiders, snakes, heights, death) or even harbor some niche fears (loose rock, sketchy ladders, muddy holes in the jungle floor), you’ll probably find “The Last Tepui” highly stimulating.

Alex Honnold solos the Yellow Wall on the Cima Piccola, Dolomites; (photo/Renan Ozturk, Red Bull)
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Even if you’re unintimidated, the new show looks like a wild ride. Dr. Means is unquestionably brilliant in his trade, but he doesn’t fit the mold of a typical climber. He’s not what you’d call young, nor does he seem exceptionally light on his feet. Getting him to the top of a complex cliff with big roofs, loose blocks, and cascading water promises to be a challenge.

‘The Last Tepui’ Drops on Disney+

Honnold seems up for the adventure. And if Dr. Means is scared, he doesn’t show it. What else would you expect from a man who’s comfortable being covered with tarantulas?

the last tepui

Renan Ozturk, Mark Synnott, and Taylor Freesolo Rees lead the 55-minute documentary’s all-star production team. The Last Tepui” premiered on Earth Day, April 22, only on Disney+.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.