Free Soloing

    What is Free Soloing?

    Free soloing, also known as free solo climbing mite not be called as an extreme sport, there are few people who call it one. Actually there are very few people that participate in it altogether…Despite it’s low popularity, for us, this is one of the most insane, dangerous, brave, absolute and pure extreme sport existing on the face of this planet and we don’t need any extreme sports “expert” who never experienced the feeling of an adrenaline rush in their lives to tell us otherwise.

    Free soloing is a bold combination between free climbing and bouldering. It’s very easy to understand- see that mountain side? Perfect! Climb it as you are…ok you can take some magnesium to improve the grip of your sweaty hands on the rock but that’s it.

    Yea, that’s it. Free soloing is all about climbing without any safety gear, ropes or anything else. It’s about climbing without any attachment, neither physical nor mental. It is an absolute freedom.

    It’s hard to determine when free soloing started, because climbing existed for ages and bouldering (climbing without any safety gear over very short climbs above a crash pad or water) started in the 19th century, actually there is no way knowing if anyone attempted to climb steep mountain sides before that.

    There is no competitive side in free soloing, nor are there any competitions. This is the most self-focused sport in existence. Many solo climbers refer to it as a deep meditation, total awareness and perfect clearly of mind. When soloing, there is no room for mistakes and thus you can not afford to think about anything else than your grip and from where your next hand or leg position should be.

    This is something you do alone, the only one you are competing with is yourself. There is no need in spectators, cheerleaders, video cameras you don’t want those, it is a voyage inside the deepest places of yourself. This is probably why this extreme sport gets so little coverage in the industry despite being a lot more extreme than most of other extreme sports which are more popular.

    The solo climbers just want everyone to leave them alone and let them quietly escape from this existence to an inner dimension.

    The solo climbers mainly use the known climbing routs. But as you already understood, there are no limitations in free soloing, it is all about freedom, about depening on nobody and nothing but yourself, that’s why there are climbers who choose to climb unknown mountain sides.

    Free BASE, otherwise known as free basing or free solo basing, was borne in what mite seam a very natural way .Free basing is soloing with a BASE parachute on your back. If anything goes wrong, if you loose a grip and fall down, you just turn around and after getting enough speed, safely open the chute and land gracefully on the bottom.

    This might sound simple but in realty is a lot more complex.
    Having this “insurance” on your back during the climb damages the purity of soloing, it contaminates the absolute understanding that you can not fall, that the tips of your fingers holding the rock are the only thing that separates you from death. There can be no turning back, no regrets, once you started you are totally committed to finish. All of those are lost in free basing. On the other hand, when free basing, a climber can afford to do things he would never dared trying without a parachute on his back, he can try challenging grips or climb the routs which he would never take during classic soloing.

     

    What’s extreme about it?

    In free soloing there is no speed, competitive factor, no flips or tricks and in fact, no features whatsoever of other extreme sports. But we all know that no matter how trained you are, no matter where or how, when your brain senses it is in danger and that death is coming, it will release adrenaline to your blood. Free soloing is all about standing on the edge, standing in the mouth of danger. Your brain will never be able to get used to that feeling. No matter how many times you climb, there is only one small step separating you from death and your brain will always know it. So the rush of adrenaline will always be there at it’s rawest and purest form, urging you to survive at the most primitive layer of consciousness.

    The rush of adrenaline is so intense that for a solo baser the BASE part is just a disappointing way down with little to zero excitement.

    This is the ultimate extreme sport, as it brings you the purest form of that clear satisfaction of a perfect control in the most dangerous environment imaginable.

     

    How dangerous is it?

    Free soloing is probably the most dangerous extreme sport. There is no enough data for statistic analysis but even without it we can easily say that it’s the closest one to a certain death, than any other extreme sport.

    There are almost no injuries here, as majority of the mistakes result in certain death.

    Nevertheless it is important to understand that free solo climbers are not suicides, they are professional, well fit and very experienced people. The routs they choose are usually deep within their climbing skills and they are rarely even come close to their physical limits. The biggest danger is losing your focus and making a mistake a poorly planned grip, released rock or weather change are the worst enemies of free climbing.

    Free solo basing poses slightly different danger. Because of its nature, the climber knows that after gaining enough height he is fairly well protected from the mistakes which would be fatal in free soloing, because of that different psychological state, he takes more risks and face bigger chance to eventually fall down. After losing a grip and falling down, it is vital to be very quick and to push yourself from the mountain side aggressively. Then, after you gained enough speed, aerodynamically (similar to wingsuit flying) fly away from the rock and open the chute at a safe altitude. All these happen very fast and probably at very low altitudes that classic BASE jumpers wouldn’t normally jump from. That and the proximity of the mountain raise the danger factor of free solo basing back up to the level of free free soloing.

     

    How to start?

    Free soloing is not for anyone, this is not something you can take for a ride just to get a sense of what it is all about. If you’ll ever want to engage in free soloing you need a lot of training and endless dedication. The first steps to take are probably with bouldering.

    In the first months you will feel pain throughout your whole body, you will discover muscles that you didn’t even know existed and they will hurt too. After some time at the bouldering wall you’ll begin to gain strength, the biggest improvement will be in how strong you can grip something with your fingers. Bouldering and climbing are both working on the whole body muscles and flexibility.

    It is a long trip just to be able to climb on the advanced routs. At some point you should go outdoors and start classic climbing with all the safety gear that comes with it. As part of this journey you should experience the outdoor bouldering. Only after getting up to the level of well polished technique and strength, after you have vast experience in free climbing (where gear is used for safety in case of a fall), bouldering indoors and outdoors, after gaining enough confidence in your self control and you know with a sharp precision your limits. Then and only then you can start training in free soloing. First you will try the easiest routs which you could do with one arm behind your back and an eye cover. Then you will advance further and further.

    Obviously, if you want to do free base soloing, you need to have advance BASE skills because in base soloing you’ll have to perform much more dangerous and edgy jumps in comparison with regular BASE jumping.

    When you get to that point you are already one of the few people on the planet who deal with this exotic, divine extreme sport. Keep it safe.