Free Solo Climbing

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Free solo climbing, also known as free soloing, is a form of free climbing where the climber (the free soloist) forgoes ropes, harnesses and other protective gear while ascending and relies only on his or her physical strength, climbing ability, and psychological fortitude to avoid a fatal fall. Free solo climbing should not be confused with general free climbing, in which gear is typically used for safety in case of a fall, but not to assist the climb. Reasons for free soloing given by high-profile climbers include the simplicity and speed with which one can climb, for example (although it was not a free solo climb) Alex Honnold's five hours and 49 minutes ascent of the 3,000 ft. Nose of El Capitan, a route normally demanding two to four days. Other reasons given are the intense concentration required and the adrenaline rush. The practice is mostly confined to routes familiar to the climber and whose difficulty lies well within the climber's abilities. However, inherent risks such as loose rocks or sudden change in weather are always present. Some high-profile climbers, including John Bachar and Derek Hersey, have been killed this way. Hersey died on Sentinel Rock in 1993. The challenge of free soloing single pitch routes is mainly in the mental difficulty for the climbers of staying focused on what they are doing. Free soloing is usually not meant to be hard in a physical sense. That said, however, unpredictable weather and rock conditions can create grave hazards for climbers on longer routes. Hersey, though a master of solo climbing's physical and mental demands, is believed to have encountered rain during his fatal solo ascent of the 1000-meter Sentinel Rock. The sport has produced a number of well-known practitioners, made famous by remarkable photos of a climber totally alone and unprotected on sheer cliffs. One of the most famous is Frenchman Alain Robert ("spiderman"), who has scaled dozens of skyscrapers around the world — a sport known as buildering (not to be confused with bouldering) — and many rock walls, without using any safety equipment. Some of the driving forces in rock climbing and free soloing from 1900 to today are: Hansjörg Auer, John Bachar, Henry Barber, Peter Croft, Steph Davis, Derek Hersey, Alexander Huber, Dan Osman, Dave MacLeod, Dean Potter, Alex Honnold, Andreas Proft , Ueli Steck, Paul Preuss, Kevin Jorgenson, Patrick Edlinger, Michael Reardon, Alain Robert, Catherine Destivelle, Dennis "Tank" George Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla, and Renaldo Clarke. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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