/ Has free soloing increased since "free solo" ?

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Mike C Swe 18 Mar 2020

I'm curios if the concerns that many expressed when this movie was released, saying that this movie will likely inspire more people to actually do free soloing themselves. I have not seen any of this myself, but maybe I've just not been in the areas where free soloing is a more common thing. What is the general consensus on this?

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Mike505 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

I don't think I've noticed any solo ascents than usual tbh, I'd say people who watched the film fall into 2 catagories

1) climbers who are already aware of soloing and will or won't do it already

2) General public who regard it as an extreme sport and won't pursue it but it's good to watch.

A few people may be inspired to start climbing but I imagine the dream of soloing would soon be crushed by the reality of it.

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Tom V 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike505:

Or by gravity.

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morpcat 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

As someone who has occasionally solo'd for several years, I don't think it's made a noticeable difference to my individual motivation. In some respects it's inspiring and demonstrates what can be done with good judgement, diligent practice, and a strong mind. In other respects it's thrown into the limelight something that's a very personal experience, and I'd hate to have someone say "oh he's just doing that because he saw that film" or a similar comment. 

Will it encourage anyone new to consider soloing? Perhaps. But they will soon make up their minds if it's for them once they get a few feet off the deck.

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deacondeacon 18 Mar 2020
In reply to morpcat:

> Will it encourage anyone new to consider soloing? Perhaps. But they will soon make up their minds if it's for them once they get a few feet off the deck.

This! They'll soon realise wether it's for them or not. Also, there's a big difference between soloing a VS you've led 3 times before and doing what Alex is doing. 

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Marek 18 Mar 2020
In reply to deacondeacon:

> ... Also, there's a big difference between soloing a VS you've led 3 times before and doing what Alex is doing. 

Not really. If you are soloing (as opposed to bouldering) close to your limit then the risk is the same. In fact I suspect most VS soloers probably don't have Alex's obsessive approach to preparation and risk mitigation. He certainly climbed Freerider (cruxes) a lot more than 3 times!

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mark s 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

Climbers already know the risk involved.

Ive done some solos i wouldnt recommend.

Watching free solo actually put me off soloing routes. 

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barry donovan 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike505:

I saw two people doing a bizarre alternate solo the other day - one has a go to where it goes blank then backs down then the other one has a go.  They alternated up and down for goes each until one managed it.

It was like two blokes playing Russian roulette.

it was the first time ever seen it - I’ve been climbing for work there since 1997

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summo 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Marek:

> In fact I suspect most VS soloers probably don't have Alex's obsessive approach to preparation and risk mitigation. He certainly climbed Freerider (cruxes) a lot more than 3 times!

There are also several high end climbers who were just as methodical in the ground. 

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AlanLittle 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

My general subjective impression: far fewer than there were in the 80s.

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pasbury 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike505:

Soloing is the reward you might choose to taste if you've put the hours in. No obligation to indulge.

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C Witter 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

I think soloing is just normal practice for probably most climbers. It's just that the game, decision making and process of what Honnold is doing is completely different to soloing for speed on easy ground, pottering around a local crag on a summer evening, or doing a hard, gearless grit headpoint. In Honnold's case, it's almost been fetishised or elevated (whichever you prefer) to a particular style of ascent or sub-discipline, i.e. there's doing an aid ascent of El Cap, then there's free climbing El Cap, then there's free soloing it.

Post edited at 19:48
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AlanLittle 18 Mar 2020
In reply to C Witter:

Depends what you regard as "most climbers". A lot of wall-bred youngsters regard it with utter horror. And more so where I live (Germany) where it's mostly sport climbing without the same strong tradition of trad & self-reliance. And maybe a generally more collectivist and risk-averse culture.

Except in Saxony obviously, where everybody might as well be soloing all the time.

Post edited at 19:52
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HB1 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

How many of you have done as I have many a time - halfway up a gritstone route, little or no protection in the top half, keep calm etc to the finish. It's a solo!

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C Witter 18 Mar 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

Mm... well, I guess I should have said 'most British climbers', perhaps!

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C Witter 18 Mar 2020
In reply to HB1:

I wouldn't quite describe Three Pebble Slab as a solo ;)

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Toerag 18 Mar 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

> I saw two people doing a bizarre alternate solo the other day - one has a go to where it goes blank then backs down then the other one has a go.  They alternated up and down for goes each until one managed it.

Not much different to a group working a boulder problem though?

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deacondeacon 18 Mar 2020
In reply to C Witter:

What about Sunset Slab round the corner  

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ianstevens 18 Mar 2020
In reply to deacondeacon:

Saw a pic of someone doing this with a rope in the new hard rock. Begs the question - why???

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deacondeacon 18 Mar 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

Either it was a true onsight and he didn't know there was no gear. More likely though is that he was going to bring a second up. 

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pec 18 Mar 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

> Saw a pic of someone doing this with a rope in the new hard rock. Begs the question - why???


In the classic Rock Athlete films, Pete Livesey climbs Downhill Racer tied in to a rope. I always wondered what the point of that was.

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pec 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

> I'm curios if the concerns that many expressed when this movie was released, saying that this movie will likely inspire more people to actually do free soloing themselves. I have not seen any of this myself, but maybe I've just not been in the areas where free soloing is a more common thing. What is the general consensus on this?


I've not seen more evidence of soloing here but the last time I was in the US I was surprised at how many people were free soloing stuff. Not highballs etc but proper multi pitch routes. Often easier but sometimes well into the 5.10's, not exactly Honnold territory but how often do you see people soloing multi pitch E1's and E2's over here? I don't think I've ever seen it in the UK in over 30 years of climbing but I saw it multiple times in a month over there.

This was in 2016 so actually pre the film but I've not seen this on previous US trips. I could only surmise it was the Honnold effect who was obviously well known by the US climbing community for some time before the film.

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barry donovan 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Toerag:

Drop onto a mat from 6 feet is not quite fifty feet up looking across from the end of the first pitch next door though.  

No mat

Post edited at 21:04
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Michael Hood 18 Mar 2020
In reply to deacondeacon:

Loads of gear right up to the point just below where you might actually need it 😁

I still think it would be possible to manufacture a cam with correct size and shape to fit in one of those pockets out left.

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Bulls Crack 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Mike C Swe:

I've stopped paying for it

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profitofdoom 19 Mar 2020
In reply to HB1:

> How many of you have done as I have many a time - halfway up a gritstone route, little or no protection in the top half, keep calm etc to the finish. It's a solo!

I once soloed a 100-foot vertical limestone route and got mega-gripped near the top - I had to force myself to stay calm - the last section was a steep 15-foot 4c slab with sloping holds - that slab took about 10 years off my life - I could not possibly reverse what I'd already climbed, I would've peeled off straight away for sure - there was no-one else around whatsoever so zero chance of a toprope - I had no rope or other gear with me and hadn't done or seen the route before - the ground below was horrible - and here's the funny bit, I was wearing Hush Puppies. I've never been so glad and so grateful and so happy to get off a route (alive)

Be careful folks I almost died that day

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AlanLittle 19 Mar 2020
In reply to pec:

> In the classic Rock Athlete films, Pete Livesey climbs Downhill Racer tied in to a rope. 

Whereas Ron soloes Vector. Looking *super" graceful and fluid.

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ianstevens 19 Mar 2020
In reply to deacondeacon:

> Either it was a true onsight and he didn't know there was no gear. More likely though is that he was going to bring a second up. 

I mean you only need to look at it to realise there's no gear, apart from the cam by the floor. Easier to just walk round with the rope and chuck it off if you want to follow! Just seemed like a good example of pretending to yourself it's not a solo.

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DubyaJamesDubya 19 Mar 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

Sunset Slab? I've done it numerous times and (nearly) always used a rope. You get gear  at the start which means you are protected for a while then later on it will stop you going as far as you might. Mainly I've always had a second to bring up on the rope.

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deacondeacon 19 Mar 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

> I mean you only need to look at it to realise there's no gear, apart from the cam by the floor. Easier to just walk round with the rope and chuck it off if you want to follow! Just seemed like a good example of pretending to yourself it's not a solo.

Narw, that high flake and the pockets on the left look like they'll have gear, even though they don't. 

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Tom V 19 Mar 2020
In reply to pec:

>  how often do you see people soloing multi pitch E1's and E2's over here? I don't think I've ever seen it in the UK in over 30 years of climbing but I saw it multiple times in a month over there.

There was a fashion for it over forty years ago among an elite band of climbers, Eric Jones and the like,  one of the most famous incidents being Cliff Phillips's massive fall from Black Foot on the Mot and his subsequent self rescue to Nant Peris.

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john arran 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

I used to do quite a lot of it in the 80s, 90s and 00s, so a lot more recently than 40 years ago, and, while it wasn't exactly mainstream, it didn't seem to me that I was a massive outlier.

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Pekkie 19 Mar 2020
ianstevens 19 Mar 2020
In reply to deacondeacon:

Yeah maybe - my memory of it is a bit hazy (long time ago!) and I can't remember whether I decided there was no kit past the virtually useless low bit or had some prior knowledge.

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krikoman 19 Mar 2020
In reply to pec:

> In the classic Rock Athlete films, Pete Livesey climbs Downhill Racer tied in to a rope. I always wondered what the point of that was.


To bring up a not so confident second?

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Tom V 19 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

I seem to remember you mentioning soloing Sirplum, which made me feel a bit sick. I've never done it but it seems like it might be a difficult route to back down off ( or call for a top rope from!)

Post edited at 14:04
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john arran 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

> I seem to remember you mentioning soloing Sirplum, which made me feel a bit sick.

Actually that was just a publicity shoot, as it seemed like it would make a dramatic photo. The holds are so big that, as long as you test them well to make sure they aren't going to part company, it's pretty hard to conceive of falling off. In many ways it's probably one of the safest Peak limestone E1s to solo; got to be very proficient in judging and testing holds though.

It's funny how our emotional minds react strongly to the visual drama, when in reality the difficulty and risk in soloing most vertical E1s (given a few grades in hand!) is probably higher.

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pec 19 Mar 2020
In reply to krikoman:

> To bring up a not so confident second?


He was climbing it for the purposes of making a film so unlikely but possible I suppose. Maybe Sid Perou fancied seconding it?

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pec 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

> There was a fashion for it over forty years ago among an elite band of climbers, Eric Jones and the like,  one of the most famous incidents being Cliff Phillips's massive fall from Black Foot on the Mot and his subsequent self rescue to Nant Peris.


Yes, reading autobiographies of top climbers, mostly from before I started climbing (mid 80's), soloing does feature quite a lot but it presumably this wasn't common amoungst 'punters'. It certainly isn't now.

Funny you should mention Eric Jones because one of only two times I can recall seeing anyone soloing multipitch (other than some scrambly diff type stuff) was Eric on Main Wall. He followed us up it having just popped out from the cafe for a few hours because it was such a nice day. He was about 70 at the time!

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John2 19 Mar 2020
In reply to pec:

Eric used to regularly solo stuff much harder than Main Wall, but anyone who went to Tremadog in the mid 1980s would remember seeing a young Andy Pollitt in his union jack hat soling route after route.

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Mike C Swe 20 Mar 2020
In reply to morpcat:

> But they will soon make up their minds if it's for them once they get a few feet off the deck.

Yeah, this is true for me. Many years ago I gave it a go on an easy trad route I'd done many times. It wasn't for me, at least not on rock. I do solo very easy ice every now and then, it just doesn't feel like the same thing though.

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Stuart William 20 Mar 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

I definitely remember thinking there might be gear in the flake higher up when I did it. Someone even advised me that you could get a micro cam in it and lent me the one they reckoned would fit. Even spent some time pointlessly trying to fiddle some gear in up there. 

In retrospect I think the friend in question was lying through their teeth about the prospects of gear.

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