Free soloing


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Tahoe climber

Trad climber
Austin, TX to South LakeTahoe, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 11, 2006 - 08:18pm PT
Hi, I was wondering what some of your thoughts are towards free soloing in general.

My sort of overall take on it is that on a route well within your ability on high quality rock, it can be a great experience - pure, simple climbing with relatively little risk, since it's easy for you. Also great to develop your lead head.
I'm not drawn, however to free solo climbs near the top of my skill set - too much to lose, too much chance involved, too much risk - and not enough to gain.

I highly respect those that do, but that's not for me.


Social climber
Jul 12, 2006 - 01:25am PT
I love soloing! It's my favorite thing in climbing. I solo almost every day.
I don't push it. I'm not Rad and I'm old. I only solo easy stuff. I rarely go above 5.8 and try not to do moves that I can't reverse.
Even on easy stuff, things can happen that are out of one's control. A few weeks ago I was on something and got swarmed by bees. I just stopped moving until they calmed down. I've run into snakes and chuckwallas in cracks. That's always exciting! Soloing in Joshua Tree in the summer, you can run into all kinds of scary creatures. Maybe it's better to just solo faces.
I like the feeling of being alone, not having to deal with anyone and not dealing with gear or anchors. It's FUN!

East Coast US
Jul 12, 2006 - 07:08am PT
I solo everyday. Mostly class 1 stuff.

What is a chuckwalla?

Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jul 12, 2006 - 08:45am PT
Blitzo, what kind of snakes? Shudder.

Isn't chuckwalla a kind of lizard?

Social climber
Jul 12, 2006 - 10:09am PT
A chuckwalla is a large lizard. It hides in cracks and is able to inflate itself, so it can't be pried out of the crack.
Native Americans ate them. To get them out of the crack, they would take a sharpened stick and puncture the lizard. If they taste anything like rattlesnake, there good eatin'!
Sometimes they make hissing noises.

I've mostly only run into gopher snakes in cracks. They just want to get away from you.

In the mountains, I've run into mountain king snakes on climbs. They're beautiful and very docile. I like to pick them up and play with them.

One day I found this rattlesnake in a crack, but it wasn't up on a climb. I sat down next to it and tried to pry it out with a stick, so I could photograph him. He wouldn't have anything to do with me.

I moved back away from him and waited for him to come out, but he would just pop his head out and then go back in and hide.

I guess you could very well find a rattler in a crack up on a climb, but it hasn't happened to me, yet.

One time I was climbing down through a tunnel at the base of a climb in Indian Cove and a rattlesnake fell from above, right past my face, almost landing on my head. It landed at my feet. That was a rush!

I've run into a couple rattlesnakes on the approach to the Monastery in Colorado. Almost stepped on one. You've got to keep your eyes open there. The Prairie rattler is aggressive!


right here, right now
Jul 12, 2006 - 10:22am PT
I once came upon a snake at the top of the "stone groove" in the Valley, right up near the finish. He sped deeply into the crack.

Over near saddle rock in Joshua tree, I was descending from some of those upper cliffs with some clients, and I almost stepped on a darker brownish rattler. I swear I jumped up and backwards a good 2 to 3 feet.

Free solo?
You gotta be dead on positive it's the right thing to do at the time.
If you really want to lead trad and be versatile on all kinds of terrain up to hard 5.11, then consider how often you might be on some pretty darn run out 5.5 or 5.7. This will be exactly like free soloing only with a rack and a rope and you may wind up in this position in such a state of mind that you did not anticipated the risk. Suddenly or slowly as the case may be, you are there. This is why a certain comfort free soloing easy ground is something the trad leader really needs to practice. Then when on such a lead, you will have a cool head.

Trad climber
the south
Jul 12, 2006 - 10:48am PT
Hmmm, maybe Costner will do a sequel to "Dances with Wolves, calle,d "Climbs with Rattlers".

Talking about free soloing, free soloing threads, old, boring, dead horse, who cares, don't do it, do do it, Blah blah blah.

Tar-baby, I did a lead on 5.7/8ish once, wet runout NC slab, one piece of pro in 140 feet, that was useless after 70 feet. I really think you have the right idea about mind set for trad leads.

Snakes , huh? don't forget bees, hornets, wasps (put my fingers in a pocket once, felt paper (??) heard angry buzzing, jupmed back out and aroudn to hte side and held on, as three angry wasps came out looking for trouble, but they missed me. Was on lead on easy ground, still didn't want to get stung.

have had not one but two birds in sequence fly out of a crack and give me a startle, also on an easy lead.

A friend once fell off a 30 foot highball cause a bat flew out in his face.

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Jul 12, 2006 - 10:54am PT
Are you talking multipitch thousand foot routes or single pitch Joshua Tree?

I am sure you are ready.

Go for it. If you are leading 10c start with say 5.9.

Its fun.


Social climber
Jul 12, 2006 - 10:57am PT
I've run into bats! One flew out of a crack and landed on Grant Hiskes' face for a moment, once.

I've run into lots of wasps, hornets and bees. I was doing Beckey's Corner in Little Cottonwood Canyon and I felt something under my fingers. I looked into the crack and it was loaded with wasps. It was kind of cold though and they wern't active, so I kept going.

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Jul 12, 2006 - 01:48pm PT

A couple of decades ago on top of the thumb in Little Cottonwood, someone was attacked by a swarm of yellowjackets. He ended up falling of the thumb to his death.

Lots of wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets living in flakes and such in LLC.


Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jul 12, 2006 - 01:50pm PT
Free soloing is an extremely stupid and dangerous activity. I personally would never do it....cheers, jb

Trad climber
Near a mountain, CA
Jul 12, 2006 - 02:00pm PT
John, I almost fell out of my chair from laughing! That was classic.


Trad climber
I think it's your __.
Jul 12, 2006 - 02:05pm PT
a few months ago I was walking around Hidden valley minding my own self. I came accross a free soloist ready to climb some rock structure. I felt soo scared. I was afraid to say hi because I was witness. "a game of rouletee". I didn't need the stressful thought of cleaning him up after the fall. I recommend soloing on your own time and away from innocent families too.

Social climber
Jul 12, 2006 - 06:23pm PT
What ever, John. You mean you would never free solo anything easy.

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Jul 12, 2006 - 06:39pm PT
I was at Stoney last night and two Caltech Noob's nearly fell off Boulder 1. They are 20 feet up trying to figure out the exit moves to the Boot. Thrashing around, no style.

I backed away from the rock so I would not be hit.


Social climber
Tendonitis City
Jul 12, 2006 - 06:51pm PT
Very funny John. I haven't seen that other blond guy you hang with lately, he hasn't fallen off anything and not told anyone has he?

Been to the knobs yet this year? I put lots of chalk up there for you last weekend.

And here is a proper chuckwalla we found soloing at New Jack City. He blends in rather well.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 12, 2006 - 07:33pm PT
All climbers free solo at some time or other. Leaving aside necessity, the motivations vary widely, and the perceived and actual risks and rewards are hard to assess. The perceptions of the person soloing may be quite different from those of a person watching, which in turn may be quite different from the actual situation. "Scrambling" in the mountains (free soloing, in other words), may involve loose, exposed, wet, dirty climbing - a high risk situation. Free soloing 5.10 may be much lower risk, for a seasoned veteran whose limit is 5.12. Even though to a non-climber it seems far more dangerous.

I've had more friends killed in avalanches than from all other causes combined. Backcountry skiing is popular in this corner of the world, and quite high risk.

All of us free solo on the approaches to and descents from climbs. Every climber pretty much has to, at times. Many solo known moderate routes. We sometimes solo moderate sections of harder routes. Whether we rationally assess the actual risks and rewards of this is another thing.

I have sometimes chosen to free solo, although never anywhere near the limit of my ability, and usually on known routes. There is a certain simple kinesthetic pleasure in it - climbing at its most basic. And the challenge and satisfaction can be rewarding. Still, you have to do it only for yourself, as great focus is required. Like some other things, it may be best undertaken in private.


Trad climber
Jul 12, 2006 - 08:15pm PT
That chuck on New Jack is magnificent!
tinker b

your local park
Jul 12, 2006 - 08:37pm PT
pyro on the mountain stated ""a game of rouletee". I didn't need the stressful thought of cleaning him up after the fall. I recommend soloing on your own time and away from innocent families too. "
driving is dangerous too...i wish you wouldn't do that around me or other families.
i try to get up early and solo while others are sleeping, but sometimes i need my beauty sleep too, and the rock becons and there i am. however being a new age hippie, i can often feel people's fear from a distance which i have been working on controling. when you see people climbing with or without a rope, the best thing to do is shed positive energy, if that is not within your ability, and you have the option to walk away, i would do that. your visualization of negative things has the ability to bring them closer.
as a solist i usualy don't climb in an area where there are people already climbing, and i try to wear rock colored clothes, it is amazing how many people never see that i am there.

robber's roost
Jul 12, 2006 - 11:04pm PT
hey soloing ja ja good stuff...oh wait a sec lemme get that.

mmmmyeah, that was rockclimbing dot com. they want their thread back.
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