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Free Solo for mortals

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 Darkinbad 18 Jun 2022

Just watched Magnus Mitbo trying his hand at free soloing for the first time, in the company of Alex Honnold ( youtube.com/watch?v=Cyya23MPoAI&) and my palms are still sweaty. Magnus is no ordinary mortal, but by god did the mortality shine through in this. Beautifully shot in a way that captures the full claustrophobic intensity of the personal experience, juxtaposed with beautiful scenery and relaxed banter from Alex. One of the best climbing videos I have seen in a long time.

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In reply to Darkinbad:

As a complete punter I find it really interesting watching an 8c+ climber having a stressful time on something I'd get up quite comfortably. Not that I'd solo it of course...

Very good vid.

In reply to Darkinbad:

>  Beautifully shot in a way that captures the full claustrophobic intensity of the personal experience,

Yes, very honest and refreshingly unpolished.  Those moments of rising panic are all too horribly familiar!  If I felt like that I'd be thinking it was one of those days when I probably shouldn't be soloing.  But then I'd probably be even more scared of looking an idiot in front of Honnold and pretty quickly there isn't a choice anyway.

 henwardian 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

That was actually a good film to watch. I've tried to watch Magnus's Youtube stuff before and invariably ended up skipping more than I watch, there is just something about the way he presents it and the content that fails to engage me and is sort of irritating. I wonder if the difference here is that it's more like Alex is presenting the content. Also it does feel pretty genuine, I can completely believe Magnus is filling his pants because of the exposure.

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 john arran 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

I enjoyed watching that, and what a lovely route! Actually makes me wish I was there so I could do it myself.

I'm also intrigued as to which character viewers identify with more. Because I'm no stranger to soloing I was identifying way more with Alex than with Magnus. Despite the Alex-held camera POV, I'd be very surprised if that was the case for most viewers, but I'd be happy to be corrected.

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OP Darkinbad 18 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

I think the Magnus Go-Pro POV really drove it home for me in terms of identifying with the climber and the need to just keep on keeping on when there are unwelcome emotions bubbling under the surface.

 Cheese Monkey 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

I really enjoyed it also. It did feel to me like Alex somewhat talked him into it though however Magnus is obviously experienced enough to make his own decision and a lot of us are guilty of possibly talking people into doing things that are a bit mad sometimes - me included. I did like how Alex was relaxed and talked him through all the trickier moves on the way though. Great watch. 

 gman2012 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Thought it was great, the conversation between them reminded me of my own internal dialog while soloing.

 wbo2 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:  It's interesting - he's certainly done plenty of DWS, and some of his boulder problems would get pretty big egrades in the Uk . And as Alex mentions they soloed a short 8a

Looks a good route tho'

Post edited at 13:00
In reply to Darkinbad:

Horribly compulsive viewing! Kind of funny as well. Great dynamics between the two of them.

 AlanLittle 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

I recall a discussion/poll on here a while back regarding how many people had soloed (a) VS or above (b) higher than the average grit outcrop.

I was in the majority, having done (a) and (b) separately, but never both at the same time. Back when I was a steady E1/2 trad leader, some of my E1/2 leads were grit solos, and I soloed a few multipitch Severes, but no more than a handful because they felt pretty sketchy and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to try anything harder.

Post edited at 13:22
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 The Pylon King 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Yeah loved that, thanks!

 MeMeMe 18 Jun 2022
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I was in the majority, having done (a) and (b) separately, but never both at the same time. Back when I was a steady E1/2 trad leader, some of my E1/2 leads were grit solos, and I soloed a few multipitch Severes, but no more than a handful because they felt pretty sketchy and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to try anything harder.

I think the multi pitch severe solos can feel more committing than an E1/2 grit solo. You can't see the whole route, you might not know where it goes and it's probably less likely to be in good condition or with chalk on it. Plus you'll likely be on it for more time than a single pitch route. I do love the sense of self reliance when soloing multipitches though, you've just got to deal with the situation because there's no one else to help you.

 petemeads 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Brilliant, thanks! I really want to do that route, would be great to share the experience with one of my kids - on a rope though...

 snoop6060 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Enjoyed it. I can’t even solo routes at HS and that’s probably 15 grades below my onsight best on bolts (in French of course). I just don’t have the head for it at all. I’d fancy my chances more on an e5 onsight tied in than I would on a VS solo that id already led 5 times. 

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 Ger_the_gog 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

That was a great video.

During my brief spell of climbing around 1999/2000 I did a couple of free solos. Nothing hard and well within my grade but few experiences have compared before or since. There's something very magical about being completely self-reliant and unprotected on the rock. If I hadn't moved away from the area (work committments) then I think I'd probably have pursued it further rather than trying to climb harder routes.

In reply to MeMeMe:

Since when could soloing a multi pitch severe be harder than an E2. You’d have 5 grades in hand.

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In reply to snoop6060:

If you can’t solo a familiar VS you’ve no chance with an on sight E5.

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 barbeg 18 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

I've soloed multi-pitch rock routes and snow & ice routes over the last 50 years....

It has virtually nothing to do with grades...... nor does the term "harder" equate to grades.  Soloing is more multifaceted in my experience. 

Barbeg

OP Darkinbad 18 Jun 2022
In reply to wbo2:

>   It's interesting - he's certainly done plenty of DWS, and some of his boulder problems would get pretty big egrades in the Uk . And as Alex mentions they soloed a short 8a

> Looks a good route tho'

Yes. But Magnus' comment about the 8a was that he "wasn't going to die" if he fell, and I imagine he felt the same about the others. There's nothing like having 3 pitches of space beneath you to strip away that illusion.

In reply to Darkinbad:

Absolutely hilarious video. That’s some hard-won YouTube content right there.

Mind you, it would probably be just as well if this didn’t become a thing.

jcm

 snoop6060 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

> If you can’t solo a familiar VS you’ve no chance with an on sight E5.

well that’s bollocks given I’ve onsighted e5 and have never once soloed VS unless you count a 6m one above a pad. 

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 Andy Peak 1 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

Your wrong Iv seen him O/S top end E4s and he’s backed of hard severe solos when he’s been out with me! If your into soloing your into it can’t be forced! 

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 snoop6060 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Andy Peak 1:

This got me thinking if I’ve ever even tried to solo a VS and seem to recall I tried to solo Hargreaves’s original and it started spitting with rain half way up and I absolutely shit myself! Soloing is just not for me.  Which is a shame as I’ve always liked the look of spending a day at stanage bimbling up loads of the classics. 
 

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 Duncan Bourne 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Great video. I really enjoyed it.

Reminded me that back in my prime I would often solo routes if there was no one about to climb with. One of my most memorable days out was linking several routes from Idwal slabs all the way up to Crib Gogh.

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In reply to barbeg:

It’s got everything to do with interpreting the grades. A protectionless E5 5C/6A is much easier to solo than a well protected E3 for instance.

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 PaulJepson 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Amazing looking rock there! I was having sympathy pains for Magnus' Norwegian skin.

I wonder if Alex found it easier to convince Magnus to do that because he's slightly detached, emotionally? I know whenever I've encouraged a beginner into doing something a bit dangerous, like their first lead for example, I've always felt a bit guilty about it.

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 climbingpixie 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

Of course, there's a fundamental difference between an E5 solo and soloing an E5. The risk is baked into the grade of the former, if it had gear it might only be E3. E.g. plenty of people would solo something like Californian Arete or Sunset Slab who would never dream of soloing an E1 or HVS with gear.

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 Cake 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

I'm just checking, that 5.9 is about HVS, right? So probably English 5a, as it looks reasonably well protected. Clearly lots of slabby bits, with some bits where you should keep moving. 

Post edited at 13:28
OP Darkinbad 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Cake:

Yes, English 5a would be about right. Or French 5c, as Alex stated, meaning Magnus probably had 12 or more grades in hand relative to what he might confidently expect to onsight. Which goes to show it's not (just) about the grade. Alex had some interesting comments to make later on about how he developed the familiarity and comfort with solo climbing that contrasted so starkly with Magnus' experience on that climb.

Post edited at 14:20
In reply to Cake:

More like E1.

jcm

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In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> One of my most memorable days out was linking several routes from Idwal slabs all the way up to Crib Gogh.

Unless Crib Gogh is a totally different ridge to what normally seems to be spelt Crib Goch, i think you might be mixing up ridges here? Idwal is in Ogwen, Crib Goch is above the Llanberis pass.

It is an interesting video. Honnold is a fascinating character in many ways.

In reply to TobyA:

Typo to one side; it's a possibility that Duncan could have combined a couple of these enchantments https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/snowdonia_in_chains-435 Kudos if so

Edit: I meant 'enchainments'

Edit#2: Bloody typo's!!!

Post edited at 16:43
 Offwidth 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

You're really missing just how asymmetric some modern skill sets can be Phil. I've known a few boulderers in recent years who can flash mid font7 (UK tech 6c) and enjoy occasional  onsights but have never led harder than VS. In contrast around when I started (in the late 80s) quite a few talented and experienced lead climbers I knew were onsighting mid extremes, they liked the look of, pretty close to their technical limit. I had some peachy arguments over the years with climbers who just wouldn't solo: my view was given many trad routes are very bold in places, if you didn't ever solo (with a suitable grade margin) it leaves you at much greater risk on such terrain, especially on a big mountain mulitipitch.

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In reply to stealth_mode_rob:

I did wonder! You could go up one of the Ogwen enchainments down into the Llanberis Pass then up one of the Llanberis enchainments - that would be pretty epic though! Honnold would probably approve.

Does anyone know: the route they are doing in the video - is all trad except for anchors? It looks wonderful rock with lots of places to put nuts, although I still get the impression that Americans hardly bother with nuts and its all cams all the time.

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 PaulJepson 19 Jun 2022
In reply to TobyA:

It was a bolted sport route I think. 

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 duncan 19 Jun 2022
In reply to PaulJepson and TobyA:

It is a trad. route which, in the US, doesn't preclude a few bolts. I've not done this particular route but those Red Rock varnished plates usually take nuts really well. Slings are often useful too. 

Red Rock grades are generally soft so the 5.9- crux is probably HVS 5a. The big pitch is 5.6 or about hard severe/easy VS. 

https://www.mountainproject.com/route/105809181/armatron

 mrjonathanr 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

That is an exact summary of this video from Dave Mac:

youtube.com/watch?v=B6gAC2YWXLU&
 

 Mick Ward 19 Jun 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

Totally agree re changing skill sets. However even back in the day there were some people who just didn't solo. A massively talented friend, same age as me (69), onsighted loads of E5s in the 70s (e.g. Il Duce) and did 8a when he was 63. I won't say he couldn't have soloed a familiar VS but he certainly wouldn't have wanted to and he would probably have been far more out of his comfort zone than on an E5 (roped). 

James McHaffie gave the counter-argument that loads of soloing is good practice for really bold sections of harder routes. I've always thought it was the ultimate ace in the hole to get you out of trouble. If you think: "Well there's no gear and the lob is one which might well be life-changing but it's only E whatever and I can solo E whatever." Justify. Close brain off. Execute. Reach good gear/the top and rejoice in your continued existence. 

Re Snoop's comment above about soloing Hargreaves, that's a mean one to go at if you're not used to soloing. Conversely if you are used to soloing it's probably (but not certainly) going to be an utter delight.  

James McHaffie once wrote a brilliant article about soloing. The maturity really shone through. He warned prospective soloists to think long and hard before they did it. 

Because, to state the blindingly obvious (but so often ignored) the margin for error is close to zero. 

mick 

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In reply to Mick Ward:

Best way to make soloing Hargreaves Original easy is to start up Whillan's Pendulum 😁

The other thing to be aware of (I'm sure you are) when soloing Hargreaves, is Macleod's Variation (VS 4c) which is definitely an easier and more secure feeling finish if you're getting a bit wobbly up there - I guess it gets the same grade because of the starting moves - Paul Nunn had Macleod's at S 4a which felt about right at the time!

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In reply to Darkinbad:

Wow, what an intelligently made video. No hype no bs no stupid questions to Honnold. I still love those old ones of Magnus mucking about with Jujimufu but he's definitely matured

In reply to Darkinbad:

I skipped over this one as I've kind of fallen out of love with Magnus' content in the last few months, but given the first few posts in this thread I gave it a go..

What a fascinating video. The contrast between their two personalities works so much better than I'd have thought. Great to see MM shitting himself juxtaposed about Honnold (though I'm sure he isn't) just having a laugh and mucking about!

So pleased I followed the recommendation. Essential viewing I'd say.

In reply to mrjonathanr:

What a great video, thanks for linking that.

> That is an exact summary of this video from Dave Mac:

In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Wow - just looked at an online grade conversion table. 5.9+ = French 5C?!?! Well, if you’re climbing French 5c, I wouldn’t rely on that if you’re planning a desert crack climbing trip. Nor for that matter a trip to Yosemite or the Gunks. Maybe Red Rocks is different.

jcm

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 redjerry 20 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Yes, American trad in general doesn't really translate very well to French grades (although Red rocks probably more so than most). Compare just about any US granite 11b to a french 6c.
Armatron is pretty easy though, probably closer to HVS than E1 and fairly positive so not a bad solo BUT this is Red Rocks and soloing always feels pretty nervy because the rock is just so snappy. 
 

In reply to Offwidth:

I completely agree with all your comments, especially the need for speed in the mountains, but my attempted point was if you have the physical, technical ability and self control to regularly on sight E5, on all rock types, then VS will feel like a path by comparison. Now in my 70,s I’ve not led E5 in a few years, but I’m quite happy soloing VS,s I’d previously overlooked.

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 TomYoung 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Mick Ward:

Don't suppose you would know where to find Caff's article about this? Keen to have a read

 fmck 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

As I school boy I was scared to lead mountain Scottish VS routes. I was quite happy up to Severe and even soloed a 600ft severe. It was later upgraded to VS. What a fool I was!

 Mick Ward 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Best way to make soloing Hargreaves Original easy is to start up Whillan's Pendulum 😁

Oddly enough the first time I did it was via Whillans' Pendulum which took a few seconds. Actually topping out took an increasingly careful ten minutes or so. It was an interesting lesson!

Mick 

 Mick Ward 20 Jun 2022
In reply to TomYoung:

Have had a search and can't find it (originally thought it was on Footless Crow). There's a ton of his other writing though, some really good stuff. 

Iirc it starts with meeting his dad and his dad's mate in Borrowdale, their banter about climbing and soloing, evading the grim reaper. But then the grim reaper gets his dad's mate...

Mick  

 Duncan Bourne 20 Jun 2022
In reply to TobyA:

I blame age and muddled memory. I mean the Glyders.

 Misha 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

Each to their own. I don’t tend to solo because (1) I’ve got better things to do with my time, i.e. roped climbing on harder routes (I won’t get much out of soloing a VS) and (2) even if it’s well within my comfort zone, it’s still unnecessary risk.

I’m not averse to routes with bold sections now and then but that’s part and parcel of trad. Soloing is a different mindset.

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 maxsmith 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Amazing/terrifying video, so funny hearing Honnold's constant chatter while Magnus is completely traumatised... overall left me feeling pretty uncomfortable with Honnold basically peer pressuring him into it

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OP Darkinbad 20 Jun 2022
In reply to maxsmith:

If you haven't already, I can strongly recommend reading John Long's classic article featuring a knave abetted by peer pressure or ego (http://web.mit.edu/lin/Public/climbing/Only_Blasphemy.txt).

I wonder if Magnus spent the next day wandering through dark desert corridors, scouting for turtles, making garlands from wild flowers, relishing the skyscape...

 Brown 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

I'd agree with your sentiments. In fact back when I could regularly on sight E5, I spent some time in Red Rocks. During this trip I soloed a number of multipitch 5.8s on my rest days and thought them all very steady.

If an 8c+ climber is genuinely looking traumatized or concerned on Red Rocks 5.9 I'd question if it's all a put on for the camera. With that much grade buffer they could only fall off if they got so bored they stopped concentrating.

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 gravy 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

That's a wonderful article - thanks!

In reply to Mick Ward:

That's somthing I can identify with, whillians pendulum is one of the few 2* HVS's at popular end I havnt soloed mainly because I dont like the look of the top!

Soloing is a funny thing and often seems to provoke strong emotions (looking at the dislikes on this thread). I love soloing (mainly grit) but most of my mates, all well rounded climbers and much better than me, some of whom have on sighted E5 shudder with horror at the thought of soloing at any grade.

To me soloing is a very personal thing and my solo headset and attitude is completely different to my leading one. In many ways I think for me normal trad is more dangerous as I accept I might fall off (and often do!) Whereas soloing if I'm not 95% confident of my ability to do a route I really have no bussness being on it. 

As Offwidth and others point out on trad you often get in a position your effectively soloing anyway, but for me (and seemingly for many others) for whatever reason it just feels totally different with a rope and rack on, which I appreciate makes no sense, but climbing often doesn't!

 Offwidth 20 Jun 2022
In reply to ebdon:

Good post.... but for....

>for whatever reason it just feels totally different with a rope and rack on, which I appreciate makes no sense, but climbing often doesn't!

...I'd have to add to that 'until its does'. Head games can a fickle thing, which is why I think it needs to be (obviously carefully) trained if it's a weakness.

 Adam Lincoln 20 Jun 2022
In reply to pancakeandchips:

> As a complete punter I find it really interesting watching an 8c+ climber having a stressful time on something I'd get up quite comfortably. Not that I'd solo it of course...

> Very good vid.

Magnus has climbed 9b....

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 PaulJepson 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Brown:

Just apples and oranges isn't it. Keeping absolute focus for 6 pitches, where any lapse will result in certain death, is very different from climbing hard with a rope. Probably why some people have pointed out a difference between soloing a 15m grit route and a Lakes multi-pitch. I've definitely suddenly lost composure/balance/had a little wobble on things well within my limit, usually due to lack of concentration. To climb 6 pitches knowing that anything going wrong would be terminal is pretty heavy, especially if you've not really done it before (and have been pressured into it largely through having to create watchable Youtube content and being with Alex Honnald).

It's not just about being able to pull hard; as Magnus said, a few times he only had 2 points of contact and if a rock broke in that situation he would be dead. If you have stuff like that whirring around in the back of your head then it's going to really get to you, regardless of how strong you are. That's the difference between a 15m route and a multi-pitch. The anxiety and mental fatigue will build and build. I relate to it with climbing at my limit - For 10 or 15 metres, I can focus and push hard and before I know it I'm at the top. Climbing multiple pitches one on top of the other at my limit and it's much harder to cope with that.

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In reply to PaulJepson:

Absolutely, even though I may bang on about soloing all the time and how much I love it the reason I very rarely solo long stuff is exactly this, even though it may be miles below my onsight grade. Conversely I can actually solo near my onsight grade on short routes as I know I can deal with the mental intensity in shot bursts.

Watching the various Tom Randal vids about the Lakes classic rock challenge really highlighted for me how different this stuff, even at modest grades, is to short routes.

In reply to Philb1950 and Brown:

But we're all different!

I once went to the Lakes with someone who flashed F6c on the Carrock Fell boulders but was very uncomfortable the next day on Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag. Whereas I couldn't touch the former and was fine on the latter.

A good friend happily solos the big Severes at Stanage but can barely touch F5 problems there. And I'm the opposite.

Etc.

In reply to Brown:

I think one factor is that most of us oldies took up climbing where we'd be learning climbing outside (before decent walls) with mates and/or in a club. In those environments, especially on grit or sandstone outcrops, soloing was often part of the game, even if only on easy routes.

Also, gear wasn't as comprehensive as nowadays so the "gap" between leading and soloing was often smaller than it is nowadays.

For those people who've more recently come into climbing via climbing gyms or bouldering, soloing (above paddable height) is a lot further away from what they're used to.

I presume MM's background is very gym/sport/competition based, so soloing trad is very far away from his comfort zone, regardless of how easy it is.

The video was (to me) an interesting reminder that it's all too easy to assume that skills that we have (or have developed) are shared by everyone; usually because we're so used to them that we take them for granted and don't even recognise them as skills.

I think a lot of the responses in this thread have fallen into that assumption.

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 Iamgregp 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Despite it giving me very sweaty hands and feet, I loved this vid. 

I quite like Magnus' vids, as he usually doesn't take himself too seriously, but this one with him taking things very seriously and Honnold's relaxed banter being up to it's usual standard was an absolute joy. 

Thanks for the link!

In reply to Mick Ward:

I knew someone who told me about when he was soloing Heargreaves and he came off; and somehow stopped a couple of breaks lower down!!!

At which point he carefully downclimbed all the way to the Scotsman Pack to recover appropriately.

In reply to ebdon:

> That's somthing I can identify with, whillians pendulum is one of the few 2* HVS's at popular end I havnt soloed mainly because I dont like the look of the top!

Solo the pendulum then reverse the normal start. Having said that I don't think the reverse would be totally straightforward, best get a mate to move a mat along.

In reply to Michael Hood:

Alas I have no friends (hence all the soloing) which makes mat placement a bit of an art form sometimes! I've soloed Hargreaves loads so should just get over myself and finish up that. I dont think I've ever actually led whillans pendulum though and the top looks very rounded.

 Mick Ward 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

The horror!

I feel sick just thinking about it. 

Thank goodness he was OK.

Mick 

In reply to Darkinbad:

"God has you on top rope" - brilliant quote

 john arran 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I knew someone who told me about when he was soloing Heargreaves and he came off; and somehow stopped a couple of breaks lower down!!!

> At which point he carefully downclimbed all the way to the Scotsman Pack to recover appropriately.

That sounds horrific!

Although, I have a very vague memory of reading - maybe in a very old (green) Stanage guide, that this was one of the routes which Alf Bridge would literally jump down, bouncing from break to break, as a kind of party piece. Can anyone confirm whether my memory is even close to the truth?

In reply to Mick Ward:

> The horror!

> I feel sick just thinking about it. 

> Thank goodness he was OK.

> Mick 

Oh, I don't know so much: I once had a decent pint of bitter in there.

1
In reply to john arran:

That’s definitely repeated in many places, for instance High Peak, with quotes from eyewitnesses. I’d want to see the video, myself.

jcm

 Rob Parsons 20 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

> Although, I have a very vague memory of reading - maybe in a very old (green) Stanage guide, that this was one of the routes which Alf Bridge would literally jump down, bouncing from break to break, as a kind of party piece. Can anyone confirm whether my memory is even close to the truth?

In the 1983 guide (the one with Archangel on the cover), we read (pp 134-135):

"Bridge also made a habit of demonstrating his remarkable technique of controlled falling off from high up without sustaining injury!"

By the next guide (1989; the one with Johnny Dawes on The Cowperstone on the cover), this had become (p 224):

"Bridge also made a habit of demonstrating his remarkable technique of controlled falling off from high up without sustaining injury! Mid-way up Black Slab was reputedly a favourite taking off point!"

No idea of the truth of the matter - but I'd pay money to watch someone giving that a go. (Or, perhaps, I'd feel sick watching someone giving it a go.)

1
In reply to Michael Hood:

You’ve nailed it. It’s a generational thing in this risk averse society.

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 john arran 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Rob Parsons:

Thanks. My memory tells me it was the 93 guide that identified Black Slab in particular, but I suppose that level of detail could easily have been added later.

 Doug 20 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

I think I first heard of Alf Bridge's jumping exploits in Eric Byne's 'High Peak' (published mid 60s ?)

 ERNIESHACK 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Nice one, thanks for posting this.

It was a good watch and maybe the only time he has kept his tshirt on, must have been serious then!!!

In reply to Doug:

Yes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was also in Kirkus’ Let’s Go Climbing, but my parents’ copy seems to have disappeared.

jcm

 Morty 20 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

> I enjoyed watching that, and what a lovely route! Actually makes me wish I was there so I could do it myself.

> I'm also intrigued as to which character viewers identify with more. Because I'm no stranger to soloing I was identifying way more with Alex than with Magnus. Despite the Alex-held camera POV, I'd be very surprised if that was the case for most viewers, but I'd be happy to be corrected.

Having watched you soloing routes all over Millstone that were still very much on my leading wish list, I can understand where you are coming from.  I was very much identifying with Magnus the whole way - my heart was pounding and my balls went up inside me when he was looking for holds around that crack. 

 Iamgregp 20 Jun 2022
In reply to The way this thread is heading:

Drawing any comparison between what Magnus and Alex did here, and solos on gritstone crags, or short U.K. trad routes is a bit of a stretch.

A 12m route, where maybe only the last half presents a risk of serious injury, the last quarter of which presents an small chance of death (if you’re unlucky) in which you you spend just a few minutes (if that) making half a dozen moves or so really doesn’t compare to what these guys did here. 

They spent an hour and a half climbing this, outside of the fist few minutes they were looking at certain death the whole time and made hundreds of moves in this state.

To top all that, Magnus hadn’t even seen the route before he did this, let alone climbed it. How many grit routes get soloed on those terms?

I’m in no way denigrating what people have soloed in the U.K., and by all means a conversation about how people are risk averse these days is totally valid. But start another thread, this thread is about what MM achieved with AH’s help. An achievement I doubt any of us have or will ever come close to, let alone be up for after a text message conversation the previous night!

8
 Brown 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> An achievement I doubt any of us have or will ever come close to, let alone be up for after a text message conversation the previous night!

He has redpointed 5.15b and he soloed a 5.9 multipitch. (30% of redpoint grade)

Alex Honolds solos are impressive being both objectively hard big route solos and represent someone climbing near their limit. (5.12b/5.14b being about 70%).

This less so...

I'm sure there are multiple people contributing to this thread who have on sight soloed big multipitch routes at 30% their redpoint grade. This is after all, about equivalent to soloing a mod when you climb HS.

9
 john arran 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

I hear where you're coming from, and I get the fact that many people will see it that way, especially nowadays, but it really couldn't be further from my perspective. My perspective is that once I'm maybe 5m up - less if it's a bad landing - I'm soloing. If I fall off it's gonna hurt badly, and the difference between that and almost or certain death is of very little consequence. The rest of the route, from 5m to 500m or more, is approached in a pretty much identical state of mind. The only real difference is the difficulty of reversing or of bailing onto another line, if the climbing ahead really does seem unjustifiable. Seems entirely rational to me, but I get the fact that for some people, the exposure of dozens or hundreds of metres beneath your feet adds a critical new dimension.

4
 Michael Gordon 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> An achievement I doubt any of us have or will ever come close to,

A bit of an overstatement there. I'm sure quite a few E2 climbers have soloed multipitch VS, considerably nearer their limit than this is. Really, soloing is one of those things where average punters can have a similar experience to that had by the talented few; it's mind control as much as technical ability.

 Michael Gordon 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

I would say that the route looks bloody amazing, but I definitely wouldn't want to solo it.

 Forest Dump 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

As someone that's come to climbing via hiking and not got much further than easy scrambling and indoor bouldering I felt dirty watching that..

Huge achievement but I can't shake the feeling it's very reckless, and uncomfortable seeing someone influenced into that.

Akin to somebody giving you hard drugs for the first time saying it'll be fine when it often ends up far from that

11
 wbo2 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:  What you said - grit solos , while impressive aren't relevant as he's climbed a lot, lot closer to his technical limit on stuff that's an equivalent 10, 12 metres high (e.g. this https://buldreinfo.com/problem/1932) and did Masters edge as a teenager - not a solo, but not a lot of gear.  So plenty of form there.

 Really we're only talking multipitch solo here , or BIG pitches

In reply to Brown:

> He has redpointed 5.15b and he soloed a 5.9 multipitch. (30% of redpoint grade)

> Alex Honolds solos are impressive being both objectively hard big route solos and represent someone climbing near their limit. (5.12b/5.14b being about 70%).

> I'm sure there are multiple people contributing to this thread who have on sight soloed big multipitch routes at 30% their redpoint grade. This is after all, about equivalent to soloing a mod when you climb HS.

Maths has never been my strongest suite, but still I have this suspicion that your percentages are somewhere between a bit and totally random there!  

 alan moore 20 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

>  My perspective is that once I'm maybe 5m up - less if it's a bad landing - I'm soloing. If I fall off it's gonna hurt badly, .

I get this. Its much easier to imagine the pain of falling 30ft into the boulders than it is from high up.

Also, I find the demands on balance, strength and technique, make gritsone by far the hardest rock to solo on.

A while back I had an excellent weekend collecting moorland grit classics like Nasal Buttress, Left Monolith and Upper Tor Wall. Have to admit I was scared stupid on all them . Doing mountains VS's in the Lakes and Scotland (once you have come to terms with leaving the ground in the first place) is a doddle in comparison.

 Brown 20 Jun 2022
In reply to TobyA:

There are thirty one American grades points up to 5.15b. Nine points up to 5.9. 9/31=30%

There are twenty seven up to 5.14b & nineteen up to 5.12b. 19/27=70%

The rockfax grade comparison gave mod about 5.1 - 5.2 or 1.5 grade points. 1.5/30%=5.2 grade points or on the severe hard severe boundary.

10
In reply to Brown:

Yes, but that presumes every grade is precisely the same range of difficulty (as if we could even quantify what difficulty actually means, and some how standardize difficulty across radically different human physiologies and psychologies).

And of course, are you including HD, HVD, MVS and E0 in your calculations?

In reply to alan moore:

Just shows how everyone's different, when I was climbing better I'd have had no trouble soloing grit things like Nasal Buttress, Left Monolith and Upper Tor Wall (soloed quite a few grit VS's, HVS's and E's back then - if I liked the look of them which generally meant crux not at the top), but in the mountains I've only ever soloed up to about S/HS, and after each one I've not felt that it went as smoothly as I'd have liked.

That's probably because I grew up on grit and mountain routes were a less frequent experience - however if you were the other way round then I can appreciate how you got to your "position".

In reply to Michael Gordon:

> it's mind control as much as technical ability.

This exactly, MM wasn't struggling because of the difficulty, he was in a new situation and was worried/scared/whatever because he was basically outside his comfort zone.

If the route had been a grade easier would he have coped more easily - probably not. What about if it had been 2 grades easier, or 3 grades, etc. How many grades easier would it have had to be before he would have had no worries about the situation?

 Brown 20 Jun 2022
In reply to TobyA:

Ah but I'm relying on the strength of decimalisation to do the hard work for me.

I'm sure something as scientific sounding as the Yosemite Decimal System must be legit. It must be based on fundamental physics, like the way a meter is the distance traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second. Its probably calibrated against 5.999d, the absolute upper limit of climbing. Its speed of light.

Post edited at 22:44
3
In reply to Brown:

>Alex Honolds solos are impressive being both objectively hard big route solos and represent someone climbing near their limit. (5.12b/5.14b being about 70%).

Honnold has soloed at least 5.13b, or am I missing your point?

jcm

 Brown 21 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

My mistake, I remembered free rider wrong. It appears to get 5.12d/13a.

Has he done any 5.13b big multipitch?

OP Darkinbad 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Brown:

> I'm sure something as scientific sounding as the Yosemite Decimal System must be legit.

As legit as the Dewey Decimal System, but not necessarily as useful.

I wonder if forums for librarians are full of endless debates about the appropriate classification of books, whether books should be read in one push from beginning to end, whether its ok to fold back the edges of pages to mark the difficult sections...

In reply to Darkinbad:

All you need to know is 796.522 😁

In reply to Brown:

Don’t think so. He soloed something called Cosmic Debris, which is 5.13b, but I have the impression that’s one pitch.

jcm

In reply to Brown:

> He has redpointed 5.15b and he soloed a 5.9 multipitch. (30% of redpoint grade

> I'm sure there are multiple people contributing to this thread who have on sight soloed big multipitch routes at 30% their redpoint grade. This is after all, about equivalent to soloing a mod when you climb HS.

I can understand this.. I’m a vdiff climber so it’s like me soloing Ben Nevis (tourist path)… 

1
 Iamgregp 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Brown:

El Sendero Luminoso is 15 pitches and 5.12+

Not sure he, or anyone, has soloed routes as long and hard as that and Freerider

 Mick Ward 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

> That's probably because I grew up on grit and mountain routes were a less frequent experience - however if you were the other way round then I can appreciate how you got to your "position".

That's a really good point. I started on mountain routes but then spent a lot of time on grit. Although I soloed much harder on grit, mountain routes didn't seem massively intimidating. Whereas I've probably been much more cautious about sea-cliff soloing. Proportionately less exposure to it. 

While it's always good to have grades in hand, for me soloing has always been about controllability rather than grade per se. You don't want intrinsically insecure moves or seepage for instance. I'd go along with John Arran's view that once you're above a bad landing you enter a particular mindset. And stay in it. 

However long/spacy this route is, it still seems to be about HVS/E1 with no dreadful anomalies on it (e.g. boulder problem moves, safe when roped but dire when not). There must be loads of people on this forum who could comfortably solo it. The emphasis is of course, on 'comfortably' No point otherwise. Soloing shouldn't be about getting gripped. 

Mick 

 magma 21 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Don’t think so. He soloed something called Cosmic Debris, which is 5.13b, but I have the impression that’s one pitch.

not quite up there with the other Alex then? (Kommunist, 5.14a)

i wonder if AH would be as comfortable on the more friable routes eg Hasse Brandler?

1
 JimR 21 Jun 2022
In reply to timparkin:

> I can understand this.. I’m a vdiff climber so it’s like me soloing Ben Nevis (tourist path)… 

Difference is , if you trip or slip on a bit of gravel on the path you might twist an ankle at worst. Consequences are terminal on a big solo. 

 magma 21 Jun 2022
In reply to JimR:

more like a vdiff climber soloing the in pinn?

3
In reply to JimR:

> Difference is , if you trip or slip on a bit of gravel on the path you might twist an ankle at worst. Consequences are terminal on a big solo. 

And therein my point became eloquently explained... 

In reply to Darkinbad:

A slightly curious little piece my YT algorithm threw up...

youtube.com/watch?v=JRl1LRlvVHA&

Maybe it *was* all staged?!?

jcm

1
OP Darkinbad 22 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I think we are seeing the difference between two minutes of pre-practiced climbing on solid rock (albeit with immense exposure) and an hour-long voyage up an unfamiliar wall on less-than-perfect rock.

I doubt that Magnus is being disingenuous in the Red Rocks video and if he is, it seems very much not in character. In that video, he mentions that his only non-practiced free solo was the 12m 8a he climbed with Alex, implying that he has done pre-practiced free solos of which this is presumably one.

I would be interested if someone could identify the route. It looks to be somewhere between 6a and 6c.

Post edited at 01:09
1
cb294 22 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

Hansjörg Auer, The way through the Fish, 37 pitches 7b+ (ish), already back in 2007. As long and roughly as hard grade wise (i.e. above my pay grade) as Freerider.

Not being American he obviously did not have the press and film to go along with it, so was not the bestest climber ever who every day before breakfast conquers the biggest and baddest rock wall on the world....

11
In reply to cb294:

It's not a competition, y'know? Sure, HJA's ascent was amazing and inspirational and all the more so in a way for being so underground, but that's no reason to sneer at Honnold.

Besides, Freerider is 5.13a, so 7c+.

jcm

1
cb294 24 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

No, Freerider was a great solo, but to mark it out as something completely out there, an achievement that has nothing previous even coming close, is classic US marketing bullshit/propaganda.

Hacked me off at the time, even though I did enjoy the film!

15
In reply to cb294:

Well, yes and no. You seem to have some national prejudice that needs working off. I don't feel qualified to opine on how much harder Freerider might or might not be than the Fish to solo, but I suspect there are more factors involved than the French grade of the hardest pitch. The only person I know who's done Freerider was gobsmacked by the solo, and he isn't someone easily impressed.

jcm

Post edited at 08:09
cb294 24 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

You are missing my point, I am mightily impressed by Honold's soloing! I am just annoyed by the media machinery that surrounded his solo that claimed (falsely, IMO) that this was a feat that had nothing comparable, a "quantum leap"* in climbing, bla bla...

Whether Freerider is half a degree or even a full degree harder than the fish is beside the point. Hard to compare limestone and granite anyway especially when also taking into account how brittle the rock is, which is a huge factor when soloing. In that respect, Alex Huber soloing the Hasse Brandler was even worse.

CB

* here is another media bullshit phrase that could maks me rant for hours, but let's not go there!

1
 MischaHY 24 Jun 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Drawing any comparison between what Magnus and Alex did here, and solos on gritstone crags, or short U.K. trad routes is a bit of a stretch.

> To top all that, Magnus hadn’t even seen the route before he did this, let alone climbed it. How many grit routes get soloed on those terms?

For context: I've OS soloed up to E5 on grit in the past and I completely agree with everything you said. The crux of the matter is not necessarily the difficulty, but the mental 'time under tension' and the subsequent effect this has on composure. It's fairly straightforward to sink into a flow state and execute through a short heady grit sequence, but you can't maintain this composure on long exposed multipitches. 

I would consider myself a good soloist and I hate watching soloing videos. The feeling of flow and comfort when soloing stems from the security in personal ability and the feeling of control on the rock. A video takes all this away and just leaves the sickening exposure and potential consequence. 

Magnus really did an excellent job of communicating his mental state throughout this whole experience. 

1
 Offwidth 24 Jun 2022
In reply to cb294:

I'm sympathetic  to your views, despite the lazy looking expression that led to the wonderful spectacle of jcm seeking to calm  things.

I've linked an article from your despised media others might like to read, to see how much of a progression things were to the extra steps Honnold made.

https://www.climbernews.com/free-soloists-the-climbers-who-risk-it-all/

Post edited at 10:51
 Offwidth 24 Jun 2022
In reply to MischaHY:

Interesting...I agree to an extent with your first quote from Ian but on the second quote I completely disagree: onsight solos of grit routes at adjectival limits were once more common and not totally uncommon still (including any onsight of any of the bigger unprotected routes). I'd add some climbers have done pretty hard (for the individual) enchainments of grit solos. The big difference to me was Magnus being unfamiliar with that circumstance of soloing a big route, even when well within his technical ability.

cb294 24 Jun 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

Thanks, that looks like interesting read (only briefly scanned thrigh so far, that pesky work stuff gets in the way...)

CB

 wbo2 24 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:  Blast from the past...

youtube.com/watch?v=JRl1LRlvVHA&

OP Darkinbad 24 Jun 2022
In reply to wbo2:

jcm beat you to it just up-thread, but it is a nice little video.

 seankenny 24 Jun 2022
In reply to maxsmith:

> Amazing/terrifying video, so funny hearing Honnold's constant chatter while Magnus is completely traumatised... overall left me feeling pretty uncomfortable with Honnold basically peer pressuring him into it


I also felt uncomfortable watching this. I have no problem with people soloing and used to do it myself - once soloed Great Slab on Cloggy which was obviously closer to my technical limit than MM here. Still, the peer pressure aspect of it troubled me, it wouldn’t have been that great in private but for a YouTube video watched by lots of non-climbers I felt it was very inappropriate. We all know the natural world of cliffs, seas, mountains, desert, etc is pretty unforgiving and that those unfamiliar with that world can easily come to harm. You’d think soloing was obviously dangerous but every year people die in stupid ways in the sea which is also obviously really dangerous, but clearly lots of people don’t see it that way! 

1
In reply to snoop6060:

Do you tend to stick to routes with decent gear then? I've not climbed anywhere near E5 but I've lead HVS routes where at leasts parts of it were soloing VS terrain (4c moves with a groundfall high up). Or does just having the rope give you the headgame needed?

In reply to maxsmith:

> Amazing/terrifying video, so funny hearing Honnold's constant chatter while Magnus is completely traumatised... overall left me feeling pretty uncomfortable with Honnold basically peer pressuring him into it

Yes, I was uncomfortable with that, or at least with the very cursory attention given to the very fact of Magnus being involved. In Free Solo a huge aspect of it was around the ethics of potentially persuading someone to risk their life for what in the end is entertainment for the masses. That seemed to be missing here.

 snoop6060 24 Jun 2022
In reply to JMAB:

Mostly yes. Though I’ve led some routes that are a bit goey but never something that is genuinely bold. Bold being you hit the ground from the hard bit. But it’s not really the reason I don’t solo. It’s a mindset thing. If I’m tied in I could climb a vs with no gear. Say an e5 where its about 7a to half way, super safe, then vs to the top with no gear. That VS bit would not bother me at all.  

admittedly that makes no sense but I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Honestly if I said to anyone I climbed with, and I’ve climbed with plenty of folk on here, I went to High Tor yesterday and soloed Skylight they’d think It was bollocks. But if I said I went to high tor and did supersonic and tales they’d be a bit suprised (because I mainly sport climb these days) but certainly wouldn’t think I’d made it up. Which reminds me to actually go and do both of those as it’s now one of my closest crags!

Post edited at 17:44
 Michael Gordon 24 Jun 2022
In reply to maxsmith:

> Amazing/terrifying video, so funny hearing Honnold's constant chatter while Magnus is completely traumatised... overall left me feeling pretty uncomfortable with Honnold basically peer pressuring him into it

I felt like that initially while watching it, but took a bit of heart from Alex saying he'd only encourage 5.15 climbers towards something like this, which to be fair is a huge margin in terms of difficulty.

Also, you were probably using humour for effect but to describe Magnus as "completely traumatised" is well, just incorrect. He's understandably full of concern but also clearly in control, helped no doubt by Alex's encouragement. From comments like that I was expecting a total meltdown, and very relieved that wasn't the case!

 Michael Gordon 24 Jun 2022
In reply to snoop6060:

> admittedly that makes no sense

It actually does make sense. You attempt routes in the safest manner they will allow. If there's no gear on the route then there's not a lot you can do about it, but if there is, you use it.

In reply to Michael Gordon:

I thought that 5.15 comment was weird. I mean, Tommy Caldwell and Stevie Haston, to name but two, haven’t climbed 5.15, but I reckon they’d be pretty cool with soloing a one-pitch HVS/E1 with a bunch of exposed Severe climbing thrown in.

jcm

Post edited at 18:16
 AJM 24 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Tommy probably has..... (Graded 5.15 when originally done, upgrade now proposed albeit no-one knows if it's still the same set of holds as far as I know...)

https://www.climbing.com/news/matty-hong-sends-tommy-caldwells-flex-luther-upgrades-to-5-15b/

In reply to AJM:

Oh, fair enough - I was thinking of Dawn Wall. Still the general point is valid, I think.

jcm

 Michael Gordon 24 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

But this was a 6(?) pitch HVS/E1. I think Alex meant if it was someone with no experience of soloing big routes. Obviously quite a few folk would be fine with it.

 AJM 24 Jun 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I'm just being a pedant

In reply to Michael Gordon:

> But this was a 6(?) pitch HVS/E1. I think Alex meant if it was someone with no experience of soloing big routes. Obviously quite a few folk would be fine with it.

From what I understand, it's more like a six-pitch VS with a single HVS move at the finger crack low down. 

 MischaHY 25 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

I used to do a lot of soloing and felt really safe doing it. I always felt I could reverse every move I soloed or at least knew that after the move would be solid terrain that I wouldn't get stuck on.  

I had a friend from the US called Austin who was incredible at soloing. He trained to be over-strong and would carefully work harder solos on a rope before tackling them. I'm pretty sure he was supremely confident in his ability and it wouldn't let him down. 

Anyhow he was soloing a sandstone 5.12 one day that he'd done a bunch of times before and a critical hold just snapped. Some nearby climbers heard him shout 'NO' as he started to fall but then apparently after falling for a few seconds he seemed to just relax and accept it. Who knows, maybe he passed out, or maybe he really was ok with the idea that he might die soloing. 

He hit a ledge from around 30ft and was long gone by the time first response got there. 

The weirdest part was that when I found out about this happening I realised there was a part of me that was already prepared and ready to hear about this news. 

I still think about him often and I didn't solo for years after. Recently I was on a UK trip and did some grit solos again. It felt like slipping on an old, comfortable sweater. I'm not sure if I like wearing it anymore. 

1
 jon 25 Jun 2022
In reply to MischaHY:

I used to solo a lot at Tremadoc. Like you, I felt really safe. I had circuits which I'd do every time I went there (which was a lot), sometimes multiple times a day. Up one, down another, all day long! All the routes were VS or HVS with the occasional E1 (which were probably HVS at the time). One of the routes was Merlin Direct. On its brilliant main pitch there was a thin flake, from memory about 40cm square-ish. You laybacked its right hand edge. Your fingers went right in and the edge was so sharp it was impossible to let go of it. You'd lean right out on your right hand, bring feet up high and reach high for the next hold. I don't know how many times I soloed it - 50? 100...? One day I was leading it and arrived at the flake .... and it was gone. All of it, not a trace apart from a lighter patch on the wall. That was in the 70s but even now just thinking about it gives me a jolt of adrenalin...

 PaulJepson 25 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Seems Magnus has done similarly exposed things before:  youtube.com/watch?v=JRl1LRlvVHA&

Weird that this isnt mentioned but only the short 8b is? Is it because that was onsight but the Verdon was pre-practiced? 

2
 tjdodd 25 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

As interesting as the discussion on soloing is, shouldn't the real discussion be about who eats red peppers like apples.

1
OP Darkinbad 26 Jun 2022
In reply to tjdodd:

I think there was only so far that Alex could persuade Magnus to step out of his comfort zone.

 Stegosaur 26 Jun 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Seems Magnus has done similarly exposed things before:  youtube.com/watch?v=JRl1LRlvVHA&

> Weird that this isnt mentioned but only the short 8b is? Is it because that was onsight but the Verdon was pre-practiced? 

This has already been brought up twice in this thread.

2
In reply to jon:

Paul Williams, Brown’s Eliminate. Lots of us were just lucky.

 jon 26 Jun 2022
In reply to Philb1950:

Yes. That was just tragic. Luck only holds out as long as the holds do.

 Fergal 26 Jun 2022
In reply to tjdodd:

Alex is really from K- PAX

1
 Offwidth 26 Jun 2022
In reply to jon and Philb1950

All climbing deaths are tragic but climbers apply their skill and judgement to reduce risk (and the effects of luck) in the context that risks vary massively across games. What's way more tragic to me is a climber who dies because of an unchecked knot failure on a sport climb, where risks should be lowest.

Many UK climbers have regular days out soloing. They are not irresponsible gamblers and accidents are rare. As a specialist's game as carefully practiced on average it is almost certainly safer than a lot of winter climbing and the vast majority of alpinism, partly as accidents on snowy peaks are way more often due to bad luck (objective risk).

There are many UK trad routes that have a bigger problem with loose holds than Brown's Elliminate but on that route they do break on rare occasions and if they break at the top, a rope probably won't save you from decking.

We all roll the dice.

In reply to Philb1950:

> Paul Williams, Brown’s Eliminate. Lots of us were just lucky.

You are right Phil a lot of us were just lucky. Brown’s Eliminate was one of my regular solos but Paul’s death was a wake up call as was the death of my good friend Derek Hersey.

 jon 27 Jun 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> In reply to jon and Philb1950

> All climbing deaths are tragic but climbers apply their skill and judgement to reduce risk (and the effects of luck) in the context that risks vary massively across games. What's way more tragic to me is a climber who dies because of an unchecked knot failure on a sport climb, where risks should be lowest.

> Many UK climbers have regular days out soloing. They are not irresponsible gamblers and accidents are rare. As a specialist's game as carefully practiced on average it is almost certainly safer than a lot of winter climbing and the vast majority of alpinism, partly as accidents on snowy peaks are way more often due to bad luck (objective risk).

> There are many UK trad routes that have a bigger problem with loose holds than Brown's Elliminate but on that route they do break on rare occasions and if they break at the top, a rope probably won't save you from decking.

> We all roll the dice.

Yes, good post. Or you could have said:

I know soloing's dangerous, but I like it!

Clear, no nonsense and to the point...

1
 john arran 27 Jun 2022
In reply to jon:

Soloing is a branch of climbing which accentuates a particular aspect and skill set. You might say that trad climbing in the mountains will most likely involve most aspects of the sport to some degree: physical, psychological, technical, emotional, environmental, etc. Soloing simply distils this list to a smaller subset of skills and rewards, as do bouldering or scrambling in their own way. It won't appeal to everyone, just as scrambling, bouldering, competitions and any other branch of our sport appeals to some more than others. But equally, it's as valid a discipline as any other, whether that be as part of an unroped Alpine approach, an evening Gritstone circuit, or an onsight multi-pitch adventure.

In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> It's not a competition, y'know?

No, but it's the Alex Huber solo of the Hasse-Brandler that makes my palms sweat...

https://gripped.com/video/this-is-still-a-gripping-free-solo-video-alex-huber-on-a-20-pitch-5-12a/

So continuously steep, so obviously a bit loose, such a massive drop!

In reply to Offwidth:

Quality post. 

 MischaHY 28 Jun 2022
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> No, but it's the Alex Huber solo of the Hasse-Brandler that makes my palms sweat...

Hansjorg on the Fish. 

Unfathomable. 

7b+ slab climbing with many many demanding pitches on an 850m route. 

Post edited at 10:27
 Offwidth 28 Jun 2022
In reply to jon:

More like 'I know climbing is dangerous but I like it'. Over-blowing risks from one game that for average participants is way less risky than some other games is strange and the focus on Paul in that seems ghoulish (Jimmy hasn't been mentioned but he fell off what for him was a scrambling descent).

I preferred to say more as I'm interested in risk and motivation in climbing and the things that scare me are so many experienced climbers adding dumb risks by lacking focus in what should be a very safe environments, but I almost never feel that when watching experienced solo climbers. I'm uncomfortable in roped indoor walls these days, with the too common bad practice and occasional near misses. It's truely terrible that people have died because they didn't get their knot buddy checked. I'm uncomfortable watching some people on trad when they relax away from the hard bits.

4
 john arran 28 Jun 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> It's truely terrible that people have died because they didn't get their knot buddy checked.

I agree with you in general, but it has to be said that nobody has ever died "because they didn't get their knot buddy checked". Too many have died because they failed to tie an effective knot, and it goes without saying that a buddy check is one way to help prevent that happening. If you're ever self-belaying you need to be absolutely sure of your knots and systems and leave no chance at all of errors that potentially could be picked up by a buddy check. I like to apply the same degree of self-reliance to all of my climbing. Of course. I don't object if someone wants to make sure I'm tied in ok, as indeed I will very often cast a glance at a partner's knot, but in a game that relies fundamentally on self-reliance I'm never quite comfortable with the idea of farming out even part of my own personal safety responsibility in any formalised way to anyone else.
 

I'm now expecting responses to the effect that 'it can't do any harm' and 'none of us is perfect', and I get all of that and agree, though I still think the most important buddy check we can ever make is on ourselves, and that much cannot be emphasised enough.

2
 jon 28 Jun 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

I didn't mention Paul.

 jon 28 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

I agree 100%. Passing on the responsibility is a double edged sword. We have to take responsibility for ourselves.

 MeMeMe 28 Jun 2022
In reply to Darkinbad:

Not to anyone in particular but can I recommend Alex Honnold's podcast 'Climbing Gold'. It often has nuanced discussions about risk, the last episode had quite a lot from Will Gadd - https://www.climbinggold.com/episodes/power-of-negative-thinking

In reply to john arran:

> I'm now expecting responses to the effect that 'it can't do any harm' and 'none of us is perfect', and I get all of that and agree, though I still think the most important buddy check we can ever make is on ourselves, and that much cannot be emphasised enough.

I agree.  It's often said that buddy checks are mandatory for diving, but I'm not sure how comparable that is.  For a start in diving there's a culture of compulsory training and a lot of technical stuff to check - and it's difficult to see to check some things once you are kitted up. 

Then, the highest risk area in sport climbing must be threading and retying at the belay.  There's nobody but you there to check you've done that correctly, so you better have a foolproof technique that doesn't depend on a buddy check.  Ditto abseiling, the 50% of the time you're the last person down.

That said, I've noticed that buddy checking is happening more frequently, especially at sport crags, and obviously I'm fine with that.  

 Offwidth 28 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

Well I disagree on that specific point: I think you mean no-one died ONLY because the lack of a buddy check (it takes multiple cascaded errors for someone to fall and die because their knot isn't tied properly). A buddy check can stop that situation arising: the braces to the lead climber's belt.

I agree recognition that none of us is perfect is important and hence the need to pay close attention on safety critical processes, to prevent errors. Yet it's hard to square such an attitude with an indoor situation where too many are allowing themselves to get distracted or are just not paying attention at all.

6
 PaulJepson 28 Jun 2022
In reply to john arran:

> in a game that relies fundamentally on self-reliance I'm never quite comfortable with the idea of farming out even part of my own personal safety responsibility in any formalised way to anyone else.

The above is true if you look at climbing from a single-pitch, gritstone-esque mentality. To look at it from another point of view, a rope is the umbilical cord which connects a team of climbers. Their safety is your safety and buddy-checks are a way to ensure you are collectively safe. It's not just your partners safety you have to worry about if they weight the rope and fall to their death on the 4th pitch of a mountain route. You're both responsible for checking all the safety links, and while climbing has a lot of elements of self-reliance, it's ultimately your mate you're relying on to hold the rope if you take a lob. I'll always check my partners knot and I'll always give their locker a squeeze before I set off on the sharp end. 

1
In reply to PaulJepson:

> I'll always give their locker a squeeze before I set off on the sharp end. 

You old romantic!

In reply to Offwidth:

What is ghoulish about Paul. It is a fact and illustrated a point, or do bad things not happen in the BMC world? I was great friends with Paul when many others weren,t and we climbed together often. He used to make jokes about Jimmy Jewell, so get over yourself.

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