Solo climbing is basically climbing without ropes. The two main styles of Solo Climbing are Free Soloing and Deep Water Soloing.
Deep Water Soloing: Psicobloc, or “Psycho Bouldering,” is free soloing over a body of water. This sport (because there are competitions) has really started gaining popularity in the last few years, largely thanks to professional climber Chris Sharma. There are psicobloc world championships now (mostly done over deep swimming pools with artificial climbing walls), but the sport is still on the fringe.
Deep Water Soloing lets you get a taste for what it feels like to climb up high without using ropes. Eliminating the high risk of death. Falling into the water from 30ft (10m) up can still really hurt if you don’t land on your feet, but obviously a lot less than if you were hitting the ground. You can fall a long way before the water hurts you, but it’s really important to adjust your fall mid-air and land feet first. If you know you are going to fall, don’t let yourself belly-flop.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
Free Soloing: This is dangerous and yes lots of have people died from doing it. Free soloing is climbing cliffs without ropes or other protection. It is very uncommon because of the incredibly high risk, but some people with really big balls still do it.
Alex Honnold’s ascent of El Capitan’s The Nose in Yosemite National Park was one of the greatest athletic feats of all time. Free Solo the risks are great, and the likelihood of death or severe injury essentially inevitable. Either way though, Free Solo was an incredible documentary! MUST SEE
If You Enjoyed “Free Solo”, Check out “The Down Wall”
The movie “The Down Wall” is a different type of climbing called Big wall climbing. It involves climbing a super long and vertical multi-pitch route which may take more than one day. Consequently, you may have to spend the night on the route, sleeping on a portaledge (a sort of hanging tent). There are only a few places in the world where you can practice big wall climbing. El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, is probably the world’s most famous route and usually takes between 2 and 5 days for climbers to reach the top.
So maybe hanging suspended by a portaledge in the middle of a 3,000 foot rock-face seems like an acrophobic’s nightmare, but it’s not as terrifying as it looks. Okay, maybe it is for the average person, but for experienced climbers, it can actually be quite relaxing. Since the tread and grind of a multi-day climb is so exhausting, many climbers report actually loving the experience of vertical camping, both for the feeling of being secluded high up on a wall and for the spectacular views of the night sky and scenery in the surrounding area. Not to mention the good night’s sleep that often awaits climbers after a day spent on the wall!
This type of climbing involves carrying a lot of equipment: not only technical gear but also food and water.
The main technique used for big wall climbing is called aid climbing. This involves placing small pieces of removable equipment (protection) in cracks on the wall and using it to progress upwards. Then, the climber repeats the procedure and moves to the next gear placement.