Can Free-Soloing Be a Dick Move?


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Trad climber
Bozeman, MT
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 8, 2010 - 04:11pm PT
I was climbing at a local crag over the weekend. We had just put up a rope on this 5.7, the day was getting on and a very inexperienced climber that was with us was about to rope up.

A guy that had been climbing with his freinds near us earlier asked if he could jump on the route real quick. I had seen earlier that this guy was fairly good and was wondering why he wanted to climb the easiest route on the wall.

I was talking about who was going to belay him and he just up and free-soloed the route. Stepping around our rope and everything while we waited at the bottom.

I am working on being less judgemental in my life. I am wondering how other climbers see the ethics of interrupting our plans so that you can free-solo the route we are about to climb. It seemed a little dickish to me but maybe thats just me.

Jim E

Mar 8, 2010 - 04:13pm PT
In this particular case, yes, it was a dick move.

Free-soloing itself is not necessarily a dick move.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Mar 8, 2010 - 04:15pm PT
If he asked to climb the route and you agreed, why is it rude to do so sans rope?

Now, if he didn't ask (or you said no) and just butted ahead, that would be a dick move.

Trad climber
Merced CA
Mar 8, 2010 - 04:15pm PT
yeah thats a dick move dude. But free soloing in general usually isnt. But with the way that guy acted I'm sure its not long till his number is up. You free solo for yourself. If you do it for anyone else YER GONNA DIE!

Trad climber
Bozeman, MT
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 8, 2010 - 04:42pm PT
I certainly have nothing against free-soloing per se. Just under these circumstances it seemed a little impure.

Also, I had the thought..."If this guy falls right at my feet, the responsibility will be on me to treat him or find someone who can"...which I wasn't too excited about.
mountain dog

Trad climber
over the hills and far away
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:01pm PT
Dick move. A showoff stroking his ego.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:03pm PT
Thoughts? My first thought is to ask if you were with any cute / hot women. If yes, then definitely a dick move (and there are guys out there that will do this sh#t in the presence of lingering pheremones of females no longer around). Otherwise could be either a normal day out or still an exercise in posing - hard to tell without being there or knowing the climber.

Big Wall climber
Santa Rosa, CA
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:03pm PT
I would say dick move. My first thought was, there must be ladies around he was trying to impress as well

Mar 8, 2010 - 05:07pm PT
"If he asked to climb the route and you agreed, why is it rude to do so sans rope?"

My thought exactly. Not a dick move.

"Just under these circumstances it seemed a little impure."

That's where you are making a bit of a value judgement on what soloing is, and how it should be done. We probably share a similar view that soloing is a personal, private experience (thus the name 'solo'), but others feel differently.

That said, there is a very good chance that his choice to do that in the presence of others was nothing more than n00b ego stroking. Whatever.

Trad climber
Bozeman, MT
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 8, 2010 - 05:08pm PT
Well it was my friend with his wife and me with my girlfriend, both of these females are attractive.

He didn't mention free-soloing the route when he asked to climb it. I assumed he would be using a rope.
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:13pm PT
Mid-70's ... some Camarillo buds and I were farting around Stoney practicing our killer top rope moves on A-Frame Left when up steps Mr. Too Tight Shorts who stands and watches our flailing attempts at greatness.

Finally he coughs up that we suck for hogging the route and with great flamboyance starts up A-Frame Right - sans rope of course - all the while lecturing my crew about "real climbing".

Yeah whatever dickhead.

I was about 2/3rd's the way up left just playing with handholds when we whizzes up next to me and gives me this speech about "committing to the stone and how we suck and watch him if we want to learn how to climb like a hardman."

Yeah whatever dickhead.

Two moves up from me I watch this prick peel off after blowing a lunge and down to reality he goes - of course he just has to topple backwards so that his head smacks first. Ever see a pumpkin dropped from 25 feet? I did.

Dude actually stayed alive long enough to make us promise not to tell his girlfriend. We promised.

Still thought he was a dick for showing off.

Mar 8, 2010 - 05:15pm PT
Perhaps this fellow wents into "Dick Mode" seeing the opposite sex around?

Mar 8, 2010 - 05:28pm PT
Not a dick move, since he asked and you agreed.

However, a total poseur move.

A pile of dirt.
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:30pm PT
He asked and you said it was ok so the only judgement I can have is
"not a dick"

The thing is we don't know what was going on in his head. Perhaops this is part of his solo circuit?

It's not a dick move to solo on after six or many other climbs where you have to pass people...

Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
Not a dick move. Maybe dick motives--has was getting ready to leave, saw a newbie about to start up, didn't want to wait, etc.--but at least he had the courtesy to ask (and believe me, I've seen lots of people from back in the day who didn't) and you said 'OK.' He might have been a dick, but he handled it like he wasn't one.

Mar 8, 2010 - 05:45pm PT
Not a dick move. You had a TR set on a 5.7. He asked, you gave him the OK.

Soda Springs, CA
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:50pm PT
I am a pretty tolerant guy in general, but it seems like once or twice a season I will be teaching a group of kids at School Rock at Donner and someone will see fit to solo up or down the teaching slab while I am obviously running a class for impressionable kids.

Once last summer a bystander dude was asking me about how hard it was, I was busy belaying a student, not really tuning into his scene just thought he was asking in a general sense so I told him it was pretty easy, next thing I know I look up from helping a kid tie in and this guy has soloed up to 2/3 height in his street shoes and starts shaking, turns out he wasn't even a climber! So I get my co-leader on belay and we rescue him. He was contrite and apologetic, I politely told him it was a bonehead move, and to sign up for a class sometime.

Another time a guy down climbed unroped right through my class. I was pretty pissed, as it is quite easy to walk around. I made it a teachable moment, as I had some teens in the group, saying loud enough that he and the girl he was trying to impress could hear, "free soloing by expert climbers can be a bold and rich experience, soloing right over a group of beginners youth in a class is a totally stupid bonehead move!"

I like to make my solos really solo, once I couldn't see a party up on a route and I did pass them but only after apologizing, and asking if it was okay at the time.


Trad climber
East Coast US
Mar 8, 2010 - 05:57pm PT
Most of my dick moves involve some level of alcohol consumption. Was the free-soloist drinking? Just wondering if other climbers suffer from the same 'Alcohol Dick' syndrome.

I doubt it.

A pile of dirt.
Mar 8, 2010 - 06:02pm PT
But it is a dick move to pass them w/o permission...

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Passing ethics are a whole different ball of worms...

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 8, 2010 - 06:09pm PT
It seems the broader question is what is the etiquette concerning sharing routes and cutting in when a group has a tr line on a route. The more crowded the crag, the more pressure there is to share.

Seems the real issue is the op really wasn't interested in sharing the route with anybody else. Somebody outside their group asks if they can get on the route and they agree to be polite. Turns out the guy was going to solo the route vs. top roping it.

Whether the guy was going to tr or solo is really immaterial, you can't have the beginner climbing the route when this guy is on the route, whether or not he uses your rope or goes cordless.

As to soloing, my personal feeling has been with roped or ropeless, I solo to be alone, and hence don't want to be around people or getting in peoples way.
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