Deep Water Soloing Gets A Ban In the USA

by Daimon Beail and Mick Ryan DwsworldJun/2007
This news story has been read 7,911 times
+Summersville Lake, deep water soloing, West Virginia, USA, 60 kbclick to enlarge
The USA has an incredible coastline, both on the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards, but very little sea cliff climbing. In the lower contiguous 48 states, the State of Maine has Otter Cliffs on Mount Desert Island and I'm sure there is some in the Pacific Northwest; San Franscisco has Mickey's Beach and there is some crumbly sandstone beach bouldering around San Diego. So not much chance for Deep Water Soloing, you have to go inland for that....a flooded quarry in Massachusetts, some Texas limestone near Austin, or one of the best places, the perfect sandstone of the New River Gorge in West Virginia, specifically Summersville Lake (click on photo up left)

Daimon Beail at Deep Water Soloing World (www.dwsworld.com) reports:

"A ban on deep water soloing and cliff jumping has been introduced at Summersville Lake in the US. Anyone jumping or diving into the lake from anything higher than their own body height will receive up to a $5,000 fine!

The ban was introduced on May 25th 2007."

The ban was implemented by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) - who built many of the man-made lakes in the USA - and manage many lakes in the Huntington District of West Virginia. Their reason for this ban? The high number of deaths resulting from "cliff jumping and diving." They state that there has been "69 water-related deaths in this area since 1993 and seven deaths in 2006." None as we know were climbers, more than likely drunken partiers who frequent the lakeside beaches, marinas and properties in the humid Eastern USA summers.

Full press release here at: www.lrh.usace.army.mil

Some American climbers are very upset:

Chad Heddleston sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers who posted the ban (link) .

"This Memorial Day weekend 17 friends and I went on a vacation trek from Virginia and Maryland to visit a place we love. We came to the beautiful, wild and wonderful, Summersville Lake. For the last seven years I have fallen in love with the place while safely falling from many of its cliffs. Over these past years I have spent many of my vacations here rock climbing. This year my friends and I came to do my favorite thing in the world, deep water soloing.

Deep water soloing is one of the purest, and to me most rewarding, forms of rock climbing where a climber ascends a rock overhanging deep water sans any gear. It is the most complete feeling of freedom I have ever experienced.

You might imagine my heart break when I received a notice that cliff jumping / diving is now prohibited on all Huntington District Lakes and that I would be risking $5,000 and six months imprisonment to do something I love and have done safely for so long. I felt me freedom had been ripped away."

But there again, as long as you don't fall or jump in, you might be OK and escape the whopping fine.

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