“You do not think this type of climbing is common in your America?”
“Ah ... no, Valeri, this type of climbing is super not common in America.”
Brittany, Burcham and I are climbing with our 68-year-old Russian friend/guide/translator, Valeri. We are unroped, free soloing halfway up a near-vertical 400-foot climb in Siberia's Stolby Nature Reserve, a collection of 100-plus Joshua Tree-esque domes and pillars sprouting out of the dense taiga forest. One slip, one flubbed foothold, and it's dirt-nap time.
This is as dangerous and serious as rock climbing can get. Yet all around us, there are hundreds of people – an eclectic potpourri of men, women, kids, the elderly, toddlers and partying teens you'd expect to find at a shopping mall – free soloing as well, erratically scrambling up the dome, alongside, above and below each other like ants. If one person falls, they will all be bowling-balled down the steep face to their deaths.
Full article at www.patagonia.com