/ What is good about soloing on Gritstone?

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I went to Stanage Popular on Saturday and noticed that there weren't many soloists around. 10 or 20 years ago, a fine Saturday would have had at least half a dozen or more people soloing around on the crag.

It got me thinking about what is so great about soloing on gritstone. To me it is the most enjoyable way to climb routes that are within your abilities, but it seems to be less popular now than it used to be. Is this because more climbers who used to solo are now off bouldering, or is it because we are all more insecure about our abilities? Is it that society has now instilled a greater need for safety where ever we are?

Interested in thoughts on soloing.

Alan
smithy 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I like to solo some easier routes (and sometimes harder routes-usually by accident!!), keeps your leading head sharp anyway!!

There's nothing better than a ride up to windgather on a nice day and soloing some routes!!

Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

The truest form of climbing!


Chris
Tim, the GreyGlobal Crag Moderator26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I think it's part and parcel of the current nanny society. Soloing is suicide by a different name, after all.
Personally, I agree, I have seen LOADS of good climbers happily yomping up that VS that I just led with gear, and they FLY up, because they are solid E? leaders...

I guess they are all pebble mountaineers now.

TTG
Owen W-G 26 Apr 2006
I like soloing 3* classics generally no harder than severe when I first get to the crag. I find it gets your brain in gear, gets you nicely warmed up going up and down a few routes quickly and also a good way of upping my tick count on routes I usually wouldn't bother leading.
John2 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Owen W-G: I think gritstone is a great rock for soloing - the friction is so good that you can usually stand around with very little effort while you work out the next route, and loose holds are a rarity.
Simon Caldwell 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Maybe soloists just avoid Stanage Popular, due to the crowds and associated dangers (both to the soloist and anyone else they might land on!)
54ms 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Indeed, sometimes at Froggat I am suprised by the number of people soloing hard routes.
phsharpy 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: i have never done anything better than soloing. Its my favourite form of climbing and it focuses the mind, body and hones technique like nothing else. Even when i am with other people at a crag i will still solo stuff because i love the feeling so much.

I think the problem these days is more people looking at climbing as an excercise and safe sport and no longer have that spark of adventure and recklessness that prompts people to take that kind of risks. Some people just can't see the point in soloing, as if it needs a reason? Most of the time people will do it occasionally but it takes something unusual to force them out of their comfort zone and make them think outside the box!

Climbing with people who have that love is soloing is great. I have climbed with someone who struggles on 6a+ indoors yet has onsight soloed an e3 through self belief and a mind set that enables her to enjoy the danger.

Climbing is defined by taking risks and stepping out of the comfort zone into unexplored territory to see what happens. For some climbers they discover their real abbilities while others decide they can't cope.
Norrie Muir 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> Interested in thoughts on soloing.

Dear Alan

I have only soloed on the Grit, I've never roped up there. However, it is up to the individual to solo or not.

Norrie
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
> Maybe soloists just avoid Stanage Popular, due to the crowds and associated dangers (both to the soloist and anyone else they might land on!)

Well avoiding Stanage Popular because of the crowds and is possible for the overtly public reason, however the landing on someone issue is one thing that shouldn't really enter your mind. If you ever remotely think about landing on people then you shouldn't be soloing.

Having said that I avoid routes that -
1) someone is about to do and is roping up
2) are next to a route that someone is doing and is a bit gripped on
3) cross other routes that people are doing
4) have thin gritstone flakes

Thanks for the replies so far. Excellent reading.

Alan

(I have to confess that there is an ulterior motive for this thread).
Alun 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Soloing is daft. One slip on a bit of damp rock, or a hold snapping, and it could be curtains. There are plenty of sad stories to prove my point.

Yet, on the rare occasions that I do solo something, there's no doubt that I love it! As Chris says, it is the purest form of climbing. However I don't do much soloing, for simple reason that I think that if I fall off and die, my selfish pursuit of pleasure would have caused grief for all my friends and family. I think this is a darker aspect of all 'extreme' sports, and one that is never really addressed.
Si dH 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
I just enjoy it as a good way to warm up or get in a few extra routes at the end of the day. I think grit lends itself to soloing because its short and the rock is usally pretty solid.
You do often see people soloing at stanage.
Monk 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I love soloing on grit, but was recently quite shocked to discover that many of the people I climb with think soloing is morally irresponsible and really hate to see it done! Admittedly alot of them think that trad is unjustifiable too...

Personally, when I solo I am often out alone and will actually avoid places with lots of other people as I don't really like an audience, especially a critical one. For that reason, you would be unlikely to see me soloing on a good saturday at Stanage popular.
grahamt26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I find soloing to be the most expressive and pure form of climbing. I often finish work and head out to the crags for a walk armed with shoes and chalk bag - mostly I use them, sometimes I don't. This is freedom to enjoy the choice as well as the climb.

Grit is particularly good for soloing coz it's got jams, the ultimate jug when soloing. Am I the only one to enjoy soloing in bare feet as well? The sense of freedom (and friction) is amazing...
andi_e 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I adore soloing... I've never led much but I've always prefered soloing... this is where I go all Jerry Moffatt and explain about the pleasure and the subtleties of conditions and the kinaesthetic pleasure of feeling holds knowing they are all that are stopping you hitting the ground...

Soloing may also appeal to me because I'm young; I'm sure some psychologists can explain something to do with rebellion and thrill seeking, but I just put it down to being able to climb quality routes quickly.

Me and the Oli are going to be soloing 100 routes up to E1 in a day during the summer, I can't wait!
Chris the Tall 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Reasons: Solid rock - particulary at the finish, easy descents, routes tend to be off-vertical (means you don't tend to rushed into moves) and just the right sort of height (20 to 60 foot). Plus it's great way of getting a feel for the rock again after a winter on plastic. Particularly fond of doing all the Rusty Wall routes in the space of half an hour or so.

Popularity - yep still popular, but not so much at weekends. For me it's something you do on a evening when you want to make the most of a short time, or on a cold day. Plus Stanage at a weekend tends to be a bit busy and I've had a rope dropped onto to me once too often
phsharpy 26 Apr 2006
I hate the attitude of it being morally irresponsible when the critics generally don't understand either the motivation ar the rewards. I can understand where they are coming from but i don't think they have any right to condem it. After all its practically a diferent sport from sport climbing. There is nothing as off putting when soloing as setting off with people saying stuff about the stupidity in exagerated whispers.

Never tried it bare feet. Limestone is sketchy as it is but i'll have to try it on something easy.
Alun 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:


This thread has got me thinking - is there a difference between somebody psyching themselves up to solo an unprotected route at the limit of their grade e.g. Downhill Racer, and that same climber soloing up, say, Chequers Buttress, for the pure pleasure of it?

In the former case, there is no gear so it is an enforced solo. In the latter, there is plenty of gear but the climber is choosing to ignore it. My natural reaction is to say "yes, of course there's a difference" - yet in both scenarios the climber is setting off to solo something, and the result of failure would be the same.
chembhoy26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I just got back in from doing my second ever solo and my first ever graded descent solo at salisbury crags... what a feeling!!!

Surprised myself when I started but once you are on the way... you are completely in control of your fate - what a buzz!!!
gingerkate 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
There are far more people climbing now than there were even ten years ago. Without any one individual changing their climbing patterns, that influx has likely brought with it a shift in the average climbing pattern. Climbing is now very easy to get into (think of that Guardian article that mentioned ukclimbing) ... it's an extremely accessible activity. So you've got more climbers who come to climbing through walls, more climbers who come to climbing in middle-age, more climbers who come to climbing very young for that matter ... and taken together the shift in what constitutes the 'average' climber may well have brought a shift towards more risk-averse behaviours. But that wouldn't mean that less people were soloing, only that proportionally fewer climbers are soloing. So ... are there really less people soloing, or are they just not at stanage popular end, as someone has suggested?
Alun 26 Apr 2006
In reply to phsharpy:
> I hate the attitude of it being morally irresponsible when the critics generally don't understand either the motivation ar the rewards

I don't think it's particularly morally responsible, and I understand both the motivation and the rewards very well. I don't think you can brush off such accusations off hand.
BrianT 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Probably the very best day I ever had on grit was when me and Mark Phillips started off at the far end of Stanage and worked our way along, soloing routes up to VS or thereabouts. I remember soloing High Neb Buttress in the golden afternoon sun, then nipping along to finish with First Sister, before one of those strangely ethereal and pleasantly ache-ey walks back to the car in the westering sunshine. Bliss.

I would like to use some of these excellent replies in our forthcoming Rockfax guidebook to Eastern Grit, on a page about grit soloing.

I will do this anonymously, but if anyone objects to me using their quote then please say so (by email).

Thanks

Alan
gingerkate 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
And I reckon the people who've mentioned it being considered 'morally reprehensible' are onto something ... when I first climbed, twenty years ago, I soloed stuff and it never even crossed my mind to feel guilty about it. But more recently, guilt just froze me, I couldn't go ahead with it. Whether that's just having kids or also being much older, I don't know. I think it's mainly the kids thing, like, I feel I haven't the right to be doing this.
Chris the Tall 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> Having said that I avoid routes that -
> 1) someone is about to do and is roping up

Surely "Do you mind if I nip up this first" is possibly the most over-used phrase in the soloist's vocabluary....

Actually I've noticed people tend to get a bit upset if you solo a route just after they've climbed it too
Richard 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> Actually I've noticed people tend to get a bit upset if you solo a route just after they've climbed it too

I once upset a friend by soloing Marmoset at Stanage as he was preparing to lead it. Couldn't help it - I just tried the first move, got it, and then it's a scramble to the top - easier than coming back down.

To make it even worse, he couldn't do the move.
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

It used to be part of my cleansing routine at the end of a work day, straight out to Stanage - 20 routes, it really cleared the head, and put the shitty day back into perspective.
I am to old, knackered and scared now - and apart from that, working for Rockfax, I don't get half as stressed!

Chris
Chris the Tall 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris Craggs:
Yep, there's nothing quite like hanging off the big jugs at the top of Townsend's Variation or Christmas Crack and admiring the view between your legs. Put's everything else into perspective
Ian Parnell 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Was out yesterday soloing at the plantation area, Particular highlights were Counts Crack truely "classic jamming". Flaked Crack - one of the toughest severes I've done even though it is so small. Outlook Chimney - up and down with hands over the top but still couldn't commit to topping out. Soloing gives me the option of choosing what routes I want to do and not having to appease partners and worrying about stars or grades. Soloing is perfect for "peurile ticking" - I'm gradually soloing all the non E routes at Stanage in the rockfax which means I get to climb alot of none (both Outlook Chimney and Flaked crack aren't starred) or one star routes many of which have great climbing on.

Its also the best training I know for the big mountains and biking out to Stanage, soloing a dozen routes and the great downhill spin back is a regular in preperation for this summer's trip to Gasherbrum IV.

For me Stanage is one of the most outstanding climbing areas in the country and through spending a bit of time alone on my numerous solo visits I'm gradually building up quite a relationship with the place.
banned profile 7426 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris Craggs: i used to love soloing on grit until i suffered a 30 foot deckout from the top roof on remergence,kinda not as interested in it anymore.
unless you have done plenty of soloing your never gonna get what makes it so special



rich
lithos 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> I went to Stanage Popular on Saturday and noticed that there weren't many soloists around.

what time ?

for me I solo easy stuff well within my abilities, i just like the whole confidence thing - ive scared myself silly soloing some VDiff on contiuation wall on idwal - never again. One of my best experiences - soloing an easy classic *** Vdiff (hollybush Crack i think) at stanage in the evening - totally loved it, in fact i might have done twice. Not scary just pleasure all the way.

the question about time is that to me after 6ish Stanage seems to get quiter and beter time to relax and enjoy the rock to yourself in the evening sun. Great stuff.
Marc C 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Day of the 45 Climbs: like a batsman setting out to play a Test innings, I am nervous at first...a few easy-ish climbs despatched for 4s and a 6...confidence grows...then, before complacency sets in, a few close-calls, a few tentative breath-holding moves where the consequences would be a premature return to the Pavilion...my heartrate quickens, my palms feel sweatier...my body heavy and weary..the rock that was my elemental friend turned suddenly hostile ...Chastened, I play a safer game...stick to the tried and trusted, the uncommitting ...till the rhythm returns, and, with it, the flow of a climber absorbed in a space outside his normal awareness, mind as welded to rock as hand and foot are. A century (45 anyway) beckons..

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=16724

the sun wanes beyond the distant moorland boundary, concentration wanders, arms tire, rock-appetite dims, hunger for fish n chips and thirst for cold beer taunt me...the fear I thought I'd slain had merely been licking its wounds waiting to pounce again when I was weaker...one last cryptic move, suspending me vulnerably above the jagged greedy boulders below..Poised in that moment of eternity, my life-pendulum wavers between a glorious day of life-affirming play and tragic day of death-seeking recklessness...I re-connect and surge upwards..in my head an inner audience (so often harsh in judgement of myself) rises as one to salute me...

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=16583
mark s 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: i love it.cant beat an afternoon popping up to roaches,hen or ramshaw for a few hours soloin.went the roaches for a few hours tonight and soloed about 10 routes
Horse 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alun:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
>
>
> is there a difference between somebody psyching themselves up to solo an unprotected route at the limit of their grade e.g. Downhill Racer, and that same climber soloing up, say, Chequers Buttress, for the pure pleasure of it?
>
If you have never done or have done both before then I can't see there is a difference. But if you have never done DR but have done CB there must be a huge difference, a voyage into the unknown compared to the known.

Two solo's that will always stick in my mind are the Irrepressible Urge at Burbage and Kayak at Curbar. Both at the limit of my climbing at the time I did them. The first was done on an afternoon soloing lots of easy things on my own and I just ended up at the route and did it (not without a gibber or two). The feeling at the top stays with me, climbing condensed to a few metres of rock and ultimately climbed well.

The second was an altogether different affair; I got wound up by Sloper and my mate doing loads of hard boulder problems and me doing nothing in comparison. It was a cold, damp December day with freezing fog, far from ideal slab conditions. I decided to go for it on the spur of the moment. To look down from the crux with the feet sliding, confirmed there was only one viable option. I think they had to make me a roll up afterwards I was gibbering so much and they were thankful we hadn't ended up in A&E, but the climb kept me going all the way to new year. The Rat was fed.

I think the thing about this sort of soloing is that it is a whole lot more intense than soloing within oneself, you have to, absolutely have to get it right, have to exclude everything else, your body and movement have to right and your head has to be right to the exclusion of all else. I don't do this sort of thing often, but boy is good when you do. I guess that make me "morally reprehensible" on such occassions.

Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator26 Apr 2006
In reply to Horse:

When I was solong a fair bit we ended up at Stoney one grotty evening. Whilst we threw ourselves at Wee Doris my lady friend of the time wandered off, return 20 mins later looking a bit pale. She had been off and soloed Ivy Grotto Direct "cos it looked OK"- at HVS it was about four grades harder than she normally led!

Gulp!


Chris
Gordon Stainforth 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Bloody hell, Chris, that's a scary story!
Marc C 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Scary? Inspiring! Shows it's all in t' mind, lad
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator26 Apr 2006
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Certainly scared the crap out of me (and her too)!


Chris
Stig 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Horse: Soloing Heaven Crack is one of those sublime experiences that will always be with me. Flying Buttress is immeasurably better unencumbered by a rope.

To be honest, I never give the slightest thought to the people I would leave behind if I died. That applies just as much to roped climbing really. Selfish? Morally reprehensible? Maybe, but all real climbing is selfish if we're honest.

My partner hates this attitude but I think only having children would change the way I feel.
Whitt 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I've only recently started to solo things as this time last summer Severe was my limit. After a summmers climbing I soloed a few routes even one at froggatt in bare feet!

Living 2 miles from windgather helps too, soloed 15 routes there on Easter Sunday.
Horse 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Stig:
> (In reply to Horse) ? Maybe, but all real climbing is selfish if we're honest.
>

It is. Perhaps in soloing it is more obviously so as it is stripped of any pretence about what might happen if it goes pear shaped.

BenTiffin 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Soloing is awesome for a chilled out day when you just want to enjoy moving over rock without being hindered by gear/partner. However, I do think it is a part of the whole climbing/mountaineering experience.

So far, I've had 2 attempts at the Stanage 100. One ended at 72 but had to abandoned due to dehydration and seeing double on the rockface. The second ended at 84 and had to be abandoned due to the dire need for a crap and one more wide bridge would have a caused a full pair of pants!!!

Ben
Lancs Lad 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I used to love soloing easier stuff at crags, I miss being out in the Peak on my own soloing easy stuff and bouldering here and there.

Feeling very Grit-sick now
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Just shows how soloing can get you up things that you'd totally bottle on the lead. No choice but to keep going and give it everything! I think my most rewarding experiences have been from soloing. Love the sheer attention and engagement that it brings. Weird, and a bit hippyish, but time just seems to disappear in the concentration. Used to have a tradition with my mates of soloing on our birthdays as many routes as we had years, generally up to E1 at Stanage and Burbage. This gets harder as you get older! Still think soloing is the ultimate, however.
Marc C 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Steve Parker: Most soloists end up as
'so low-ists' (aka boulderers) or 'so slow-ists' (bumblies).

ps I did 45 on my 45th...looking forward to 100 climbs on my 100th
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I've only ever been to Brimham. Grit isn't a familiar medium, but I'd fancy solo'ing this route there that goes at HVS 5b according to the book. It's at the far left of the crag and is effectively a Dumby boulder problem. Cannae mind the name, anybody got a clue? It's a wall to a thin crack.

Davie
Simon 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:


Used to love soloing loads of stuff on crags like lawrencefield, stanage and Froggatt in the early 1990's. Then Paul Williams was taken from us and subsequent events in my climbing life really put me off it as the mood turned darker I realised - is it worth it?

I know its a great release & free style of climbing - but I can't get over the flowers at the bottom of Browns Eliminate - a route I was psyched to do at the time & never have gone back to ...

..& thats why partly I choose to boulder - having the odd solo at wharncliffe & Burbage etc - but both my mind & hearts not in it anymore....

Si
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Marc C:

I always have a bit of a battle about it these days, having a kid. Did a few solos at Earl Crag recently, but it worries me rather more now, just because of what one little slip could mean for someone else's life. I don't want to live an unchallenging, sanitised life, but I suspect the danger level has to drop somewhat.
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
In reply to I am the God of Strathyre:

Hmm, I know just about every route at Brimham. The desription could be Rough Wall, but I don't know where left or right are exactly.
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
Also Rough Wall gets 5a, I think, so maybe not.
Marc C 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Steve Parker:
> (In reply to Marc C)
> it worries me rather more now, just because of what one little slip could mean for someone else's life>

Yeah, saw you up at Almscliff on Sunday, laying a wreath in memory of that courting couple you squashed when you fell off Wall of Horrors.

Fiend 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

> What is good about soloing on gritstone?

Climbing unprotected routes in the purest style ;).
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Marc C:

Well, what a daft place to be 'courting!' I was so Zenned out on the overlap I thought they were a bloody hedgehog.

Apologies to the relatives and all that, but really! Look up before you 'commit,' people!
Tom Last 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

For me, what's good about gritstone soloing is that I can head up to Sheffield after work on a Friday night, get out to Stanage and kip in Robin hoods cave. Solo a load of routes starting at the crack of dawn with the edge to myself and be back in London for when my girlfriend gets round on Saturday afternoon.

At least, that's what I did at the weekend. When you have no car and lazy arsed friends, gritstone soloing is the answer!

Major
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

It's the uncertainty I love about it - never knowing when some wankers may throw their top-rope down on you and maybe if you're lucky even kill you.

jcm
Marc C 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Steve Parker: Well I can only pray that those two lovebirds were "so Zenned out on their overlap" that they didn't feel a thing when you crushed their skulls, shouting "aim for the porcupine, Steve!"
Fiend 26 Apr 2006
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Dear me - some people actually thought you might have got fluffy after the weekend!
Actually, I have changed my mind and I would like to use some of the excellent quotes on this thread with names attached - UKC names anyway.

All that will mean is that the quotes will appear, with UKC names, on a single page in the new Eastern Grit Rockfax, with some fancy photo backdrop.

If anyone objects, could they let me know.

Alan
Fiend 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I do hope coxy's gets in - after the PGE update to the Great Slab it would be appropriate ;)
craig h 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Fiend:

Will think about the actual soloing side of it later, but last Wednesday soloed 50 routes in just over 2 hours at Windgather; tonight led a route and seconded another in the same time at Crowden Great Quarry.

Venue is important, and Stanage popular end is ideal for lots and lots of solos.
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Can't speak for the experience of others, but I find soloing engenders the most intense concentration I've ever experienced. It also engenders some kind of determination that I don't get from leading. I've spent ages trying moves, backing off, trying again, unable to completely leave it, and eventually going for it in a moment of sudden certainty. Sounds hippyish, but that's how it feels. All about self-reliance and a self-created game with huge potential consequences. Not often you seem to have that much power over the world, I suppose. Deep play and all that!
Steve Parker 26 Apr 2006
Further to that (dear to my heart, this soloing business!), I remember that Zen quote from Ben Moon about consciousness of self being the greatest hindrance - I reckon soloing takes away all those hindrances. If you're thinking about yourself and the consequences, you can't do it. But you can't think about those things because all your goddamn choice is gone. All you've got is the way up into the rest of your life. Below you is something unthinkable. It's almost mystical, which may be why I'm inspired to such flights of pretentious crap about it!
Cragdog al 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: in reply to the god of strathyre, i think the route may be lithos, is there another almost identical crack to the left of it?
Cragdog al 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: i love soloing, especially because i can burn all my mates off with sheer stupidity as opposed to actual talent
Steve Parker 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Cragdog al:

Ah, good idea. Right grade and is certainly a wall to a crack. Though he doesn't mention the traverse or the arete! Pathos, which is the route next door, would fit the bill, but it's E3!
Al Evans 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Alan, I still solo a lot, often on sight new routes these days but I think I always solo within my limits, even on new routes experience counts for a lot. I usually still solo VS on grit, even at my elevated age, but usually only on routes I have done before and know well these days. I did an article on safe soloing for Climb, but if they dont publish it (w*****s since Geoff left) are you interested in putting it on here?
keith_D27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: This just prompts me to reply anout what was one of the best days or 2 days of my life. Having quit my job and sold my house I bought a van, went to the almcliff picnic and after that at a loose end went to Stanage. I camped in the site a short walk from the edge and for 2 days had the place to myself. (it was end of september and during the week) I soloed all the Diffs and Vdiffs along the edge over a couple of days. No great acheivement I admit but one of the best times I've had in my life. I went along with my copy of Peak Gritstone East and and a pencil and ticked as I went. No ropes and no fuss I just went one climb to next with only the sheep and birds for company. It was magic.
Jon Greengrass 27 Apr 2006
In reply to grahamt: agreed barefoot on a warm gritstone is gorgeous, true free climbing with no aids, your body at one with the rock.
Jon Greengrass 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall: its better if you ask if you can just nip up, after they've fallen off the starting moves ;o)
Chris the Tall 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Jon Greengrass:
> (In reply to Chris the Tall) its better if you ask if you can just nip up, after they've fallen off the starting moves ;o)

Well this thread has inspired me to head out tonight on a soloing fest - so I'll look for an opportunity to use that line

doz generale 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

soloing scares the crap out of me! i've done a few solo accents of easy routes and i'm allways buzzing when i top out but the whole business of soloing scares me
epik27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

May be totally unrepresentational but i have noticed that older climbing friends who climbed heavily in the 80's were more used to onsighting everything! IF you didn't onsight it you had failed so failing never really enters their minds so soloing isn't such a dangerous step to make!

Younger friends often come into climbing through walls and are used to redpointing so are very accustomed to failure! For them the idea of climbing without ropes is more scary as they associate climbing and falling together!

The onsight age may be gone so soloing is also less popular though personally i love it! Nothing better than chillin' out half way up some gritstone route and watching the world go by!
Bobt 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I was soloing last Friday and on Tuesday night. It is such a pure form of climbing and for me I don't like an audience when I do it. I work on the principle that 'the stupidity of your actions is directly proportional to the number of people watching you'. I solo for personal satisfaction not Kudos and others might aswell which is why you won't see so many soloists on a busy day.

If a climb is within your ability then soloing is far easier than leading. There isn't the 'pump'factor as you try to get gear in and there isn't the time to psych yourself out of the next move.

There is no doubting its dangers (eg breaking holds)but that is part of the thrill.

I think that where people object to soloing its a natural human reaction. Its the same as not liking being overtaken in a car.
Robo 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

ALL of my best climbing experiences have been soloing on grit... nipping off while my mates were on Valkyrie at Forggatt to onsight solo Long John's Slab, and finding it easy... climbing as slowly as possible up Heaven Crack, focussing only on the moves and nothing else... hanging off the big jug halfway up Black Slab and watching all the other climbers below, and the moroland stretching away into the distance.
And the best- Feeling a bit demoralised while bouldering at plantation on a hot day, and wandering up to Pedlars Slab. Sat down and had a chat to an old chap who was shunting some routes. He told me how he had been climbing for 40-50 years, and had done a solo ascent of Great Slab in the 50's, and how he felt when he topped out, and how he still climbs on grit whenever he can. I realised that all the feeling and motivations for me were the same as they were for him then. Spent the rest of the afternoon soloing all the routes there up to E1, feeling inspired and motivated. The old chap was Ivor Delafield, aso if anyone here knows him pass on a 'cheers!' from me!

Rob
UKB Shark 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Its a shameful indulgence and worryingly addictive - liberating at the time but makes me feel guilty afterwards.
Bobt 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Simon Lee:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
>
> Its a shameful indulgence and worryingly addictive - liberating at the time but makes me feel guilty afterwards.

Sure you are talking about solo CLIMBING here!
UKB Shark 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Bobt:

I can picture Mick Ryan's article now: "Solo climbing - onanistic or transcendental ?"
Ian Straton 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I used to solo a regular circuit of routes at caley, in common with many people it seems, I did this mostly as a post work de-stress. It did lead to one or two amusing moments though, 2 incidents I think particularly bare telling:
Took a friend to caley to reintroduce him to climbing (he had given up a few years earlier but was keen to get started again) after a few routes we rolled up to pedestal wall (severe) and I started roping up, setting off I turned to him and said "there's only 2 pieces of gear in this route and I don't own either of them, don't pull on the rope!" The look of anxiety on his face as I topped out was priceless!

The other occasion was the day my boss truly earned some respect for me. My Boss and a colleague along with their children wanted to spend a day trying climbing so me and a friend spent the day setting top ropes etc. Towards the end of the day I decided I had had enough of easy routes so took 10 mins out to solo angel wall (hvs) and the arete to the right (vs) boss decided that since I could solo them they couldn't be that hard and he wanted a go on top rope (against my advice) cue better part of an hour thrashing about before he finally admitted defeat about half way up the arete. When he came down he expressed his admiration at some length! (Still didn't get me a pay rise though )
BrianT 27 Apr 2006
In reply to beastofackworth:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs) i used to love soloing on grit until i suffered a 30 foot deckout from the top roof on remergence,kinda not as interested in it anymore.
>
In 1981 I fell of the final mantel at the top of the arete on Swastika Crack (Severe) at Simonside in Northumberland. I was blown off balance by a gust of wind at a critical moment, with all my weight on my hands, and just sensed my centre of gravity shift backwards. It all went into that strange slow motion and I seemed to take an age to topple backwards,. I remember my fingers clawing at the flat top of the arete, scraping across the rough rock like a cat's claws, trying desperately to find a purchase. Then a moment of utter stillness, with a brief sound of rushing air, then a BANG!
I woke up not knowing who I was, where I was, why I was there. Nothing. Blank mind. I stared up at scudding grey clouds coming from above the crag, then suddenly my mind refilled with consciousness and sense of self. I remembered falling. My mouth was filled with grit and I could taste blood. There were sharp, angular rocks pressing into my back, as I lay head downwards on the slope below the crag.
My head hurt.
I flexed my fingers, then my toes. I could feel them move, and no pain as I did so. Relief. Next, my arms, then my legs. I flexed my elbows and cycled my knees in the air gently. Nothing wrong. Amazing.
My back hurt, and I was terrified of back injury, a sudden movement crushing my spinal cord, so that the sensation from my legs suddenly vanished forever. I lay for a long time, contemplating it, fearing it. The crag was deserted. Nobody could help me. The road was what, 2 miles away?
I tried to roll over, and managed to do so, onto my hands and knees. Blood instantly poured down my face in rivulets and stung my eyes. My back seemed ok though.
I managed to stand up, and saw that I'd been lying on a jumble of broken sandstone blocks. I'd fallen on THAT, and not broken anything!?! Wow.
I felt my scalp. There was a big mushy area just behind and right of the crown of my skull. I couldn't tell if my skull was damaged. there was a huge lump, like half a cricket ball, protruding from my bloody hair (which was long at the time) like something from a cartoon. Lots of slow dark blood.
I looked up the route I'd fallen from. The very last move. That was 30 feet! I looked around the rocks to see where I'd bashed my head, expecting to see skin and hair adhering to the gritty sandstone somewhere. Nothing to see though.
I felt the grit in my mouth, and cupped my hand to spit into. What came out wasn't grit however. It was fragments of shattered teeth. My jaws slammed shut with such force when I landed on my back, that my teeth smashed like china cups.
Falling from 30 feet, onto a pile of boulders, landed me with a period of unconsciousness (seconds? minutes? hours? I have no idea) a mouthful of broken teeth, severe concussion, some thunderous bruises, but no broken bones, no brain damage, no paralysis, no choking on a swallowed tongue, no death, all of which were at least as likely as the actual outcome, and some of them more so.
I don't seek to put anyone off with this, but it serves as a cautionary tale. My average leading grade at the time was about VS/HVS and the route was well within my ability. A mere gust of wind was all it took to kill me. That I didn't die is just luck.
I had trouble soloing after that, even bouldering more than a yard or two off the ground freaked my head out. I remember a visiting Kim Carrigan at Caley watching me gibbering on an arete problem and, assuming it must be harder than it looked, getting on it straight after I jumped off. He was puzzled when it turned out to be a 4c path, but gracious enough to listen to my story about why I was having problems, and encouraged me to get on and have another go.
I never really got over it until 1985 when I went back to Northumberland and Simonside, where I felt compelled to solo Swastika Crack again, looking at the top of the arete, expecting to see deep groves where my fingers clawed at the rock as I began to fall. I then soloed down it, a controlled descent to exorcise the devils of my previous plummet. A final repeat of the solo, and a photo looking down the route from the top, to picture my nightmare landing and throw perspective on my survival, and the barrier was gone. I soon went on to solo bigger and harder routes, up to HVS/E1, which was equal to my lead grade at the time, and I gained nothing but pleasure and controlled thrill from doing so.
I rarely dwell on my avoidance of death that day. It never put me off climbing. I never even considered that. I didn't even tell any of my family until weeks after the event, and even then I played down its potential seriousness.
I love to climb, and always will, but I don't solo now. It's just something I gradually lost the desire to do. Climbing for me is nowadays just about fun and good craic and being in beautiful places, nothing more. But to solo, you have to be aware that survival isn't necessarily in your hands, that no matter how good you are, there are always other forces waiting to interrupt your flow, and perhaps your life.
As an addendum, the poster formerly known as JoHNy, who wasn't exactly Mr Popular amongst many of you, had a fall of 30 feet at Ratho Quarry back in March. 5 days intensive care. 5 weeks in hospital. Multiple injuries. Now in a wheelchair, though not permanently.
The difference is, he was roped, not solo. He fell the same as me, but was severely injured. And he has given up climbing for good.
Paul Winder 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: My favourite thing about soloing is the unfettered motion and the calmness of it. I climb within my grade, rarely about VS and when higher it’s still the same feeling.
Darren Jackson 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall:
>
> ... and admiring the view between your legs. Put's everything else into perspective

Well, since nobody else has bitten... You're some bloody braggart, man!?!
Swirly 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: It's hard to describe the simple pleasure of wandering along a crag and thinking "I fancy that" and just having a go there and then, no hassle just you and the rock.

I tend to end up soloing a couple of routes whenever I climb on the grit, wether its a warm up or at the end of the day when we can't be bothered faffing with a rope or even while waiting for others to climb. The accessiblity and shortness of the routes makes it viable when time is tight.
lummox 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: soloing up Pedestal Wall at Caley, after a good evening`s bouldering, as the setting sun turns the rock a fantastic golden/red colour, savouring the movement and relishing the prospect of a pint down in Otley.
Fiend 27 Apr 2006
In reply to BrianT:

Bloody hell!

How did Johnny end up so badly injured?
Jon Read 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Soloing, when you're keyed in to the crag and the moves is great. However, the danger with soloing is not really that you might fail on a move (and fall off and die), but that the rock or your body can fail suddenly and without warning.

I was happily soloing a VS when my right elbow went 'scrunch' (tendons) and I couldn't pull on it. Luckily I was above the hard part, and could claw my way to the top. If I'd been hanging off just that arm though...

Also, beware of hidden puddles such as the one I found in the break of Flying Buttress Direct.
BrianT 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Fiend: I believe his tie-on wasn't right, and the knot pulled through when he fell.
Offwidth 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Soloing is pragmatic: it builds the mental skills needed for bold leads. It is joy in movement: the essence of communication with rock unencumbered. It's sometimes a necessity: when there are no runners or when you've been let down by a partner. It sharpens the experience: an easier line grows in character. It’s fast and efficient: you experience more when conditions are perfect. It involves risk: something we should never hide from.

Those who cannot embrace soloing are not true climbers they are turning their back to risk rather than accepting its constant presence. There is a hole where there should be something important. The inexperienced soloists who are tentative are sensible: you’d expect more care when the rock may catch you but ropes won’t: start low, start easy. The experienced soloists are not suicidal they modify their perceived risk according to their skills like in any other climbing game.
Darren Jackson 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Offwidth:
>
> Those who cannot embrace soloing are not true climbers they are turning their back to risk rather than accepting its constant presence.

Nonsense. I don't 'embrace soloing' but that doesn't mean that I'm turning my back on risk by choosing to use ropes and gear. Soloing inherently presents greater risk, but risk is still present when leading and must be accepted. The fact that I choose not to solo doesn't make me any less of a 'true climber' than those who do.
BrianT 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
>
> > Those who cannot embrace soloing are not true climbers they are turning their back to risk rather than accepting its constant presence.

Not sure I agree with you there. In fact, I don't. What consitutes "a true climber" is merely a matter of perception. You can't define it by your perception and extend that to apply to everyone else. Why and how one climbs is not bound by rigid definitions, which is one of its attractions for most of us.
Marc C 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Darren Jackson: Yes it does. You're a lily-livered yeller-bellied coward!
rich27 Apr 2006
In reply to BrianT: i haven't heard your falling off story before Brian - ouchee
Darren Jackson 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Marc C:

I'm not about to argue the finer points of what constitutes a "true climber" with somebody who has difficulty keeping his clothes on when climbing!... Your criteria are completely skewed.
Simon Caldwell 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Offwidth:
> Those who cannot embrace soloing are not true climbers

You are John Cox and I claim my five pounds
Fex Wazner27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I have soloed some pretty savage (for my capabilities) ice walls, but tend to avoid bouldering and soloing rock.

I think the thing with big climbs is that you are probably going to die spectacularly, the thought of crippling myself on a 30ft outcrop seems patenetly ridiculous to me.

Fex.
CurlyStevo 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Offwidth:
"Those who cannot embrace soloing are not true climbers"

What a load of twaddle, I think you'd have a hard job selling this point of view on the continent

You obviously neither know, or have the right to define; what is a climber.
Offwidth 27 Apr 2006
In reply to CurlyStevo:

There is nothing to sell: my views are free to be ignored.
I wont change though: people that tell you soloing is unjustifiable because of risk probably shouldnt be climbing as they certainly haven't thought it through and possibly think they can remove risk by their safe practices. To embrace soling is to properly accept it as part of collection of climbing games, not to solo all the time. I certainly dont expect climbers to solo regularly or at anthing like their limit let alone all the time or on routes that are really hard for them, but denying any part of climbing on the basis of risk doesn't seem right to me.

In reply to Darren

Embracing soloing as a valid form of climbing is perfectly compatable with largely not soloing yourself. My problem is with people who climb but think soloing is unjustifiable because of the risk. How big does a route need to be before its a solo? How high can the first runner be? Is a roped lead of an unprotected route a solo? Can you solo a scramble?

In reply to Simon Caldwell

I do agree with John sometimes!
Simon Caldwell 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Offwidth:
> people that tell you soloing is unjustifiable because of risk probably shouldnt be climbing as they certainly haven't thought it through and possibly think they can remove risk by their safe practices.

there's a continuum of risk. Non-climbers stop short of climbing anything. Some people only climb indoors. Others only second. Some only climb on bolts. Others lead trad. Some solo within their grade. Others solo at their limit. Some only solo on short gritstone crags. Others solo hard new routes on 8000m peaks.

Up to what stage exactly would you say that someone isn't a real climber and shouldn't be climbing?
Fraser Hughes 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]
>
> there's a continuum of risk. Non-climbers stop short of climbing anything. Some people only climb indoors. Others only second. Some only climb on bolts.

Well, none of that is real climbing ;-)
Offwidth 27 Apr 2006
In reply to BrianT:

Climbing involves risk. Some things in climbing are riskier than others but it doesn't make sense to say somthing like soloing with a continuum of risk is unjustifable because of risk. This won't stop you being extra nervous about soling if you've had an accident but so much of climbing well is about overcoming such fears.

I've been in a few situations with and without ropes where it felt like touch and go whether I would get away without seriously injuring or even killing myself. One of the silliest was when Lynn slipped when I was helping her on a tricky move when scrambling on the Cuillin Ridge and if she hadnt been holding my hand and my other hand being on a good hold it could have been a disaster (she swung in space). Friends of mine have died climbing: risk is real I cant deny it yet I still do it.
Offwidth 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

My point is there is no such stage in that sense. At some level for anyone's comparative perception and ability to handle risk, soloing an easy route is less risky than climbing a harder route with a rope.
Oli 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: As has been said many times before, soloing on grit is an exquisite experience. It is the feeling of freedom and unimpaired movement, combined with the mental challenge of staying calm. There is nothing better than topping out a route where you have experienced an uncertainty that could lead to injury, or worse. The feeling after pulling through those uncertain moves having contemplated them, considering a sequence and the consequences of failure is hard to beat. Even more than roped climbing, it is a challenge between you and the rock in the purest form.
hutchm 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Oli:

In the right conditions, and with the right 'head' on, you just feel like you can't fall off - it just flows. And no-star routes feel a lot better than they would with a rope on.
neilh 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Love it. Nothing better than working your way south from the Burbage North car park and finishing up knackered below Right Fin.
Scranner 27 Apr 2006
In reply to neilh:

I accidently soloed the hardest route I've ever done on Stanage. Exquisite feeling and I'm still proud of it.
Fidget 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I was soloing at Birchen on Sunday! But only up to VD as that's enough to get me gripped.
BrianT 27 Apr 2006
In reply to rich:
> (In reply to BrianT) i haven't heard your falling off story before Brian - ouchee

Yeah. It's weird. 25 years ago and I can remember every second, every smell, sound, emotion and physical sensation as if it had just happened. In a parallel universe, I fell exactly the same, only in that version, I never woke up. That's what soloing means. No matter how in control you think you are, there's always a percentage that is controlled by the whim of nature, of circumstance. A gust of wind, a spray of dust, a hold parting company with the rock. You have to realise that when you solo, and accept it.
phsharpy 27 Apr 2006
In reply to BrianT: impressive story and even more impressive recovery of your "head" for soloing. nice one.
BrianT 27 Apr 2006
In reply to phsharpy: Cheers. I thought it hadn't changed me but looking back, I think it brought the fragility of life into sharp focus for me, so it has to be one of my epiphanies.
Marc C 27 Apr 2006
In reply to BrianT: You and soloing, bloody hell! Remember when you slipped off at Burbage North - the day you met Jude - and I had a premonition so slid a mat underneath u ? Hadn't been 4 me you'd be in a wheelchair and Jude would have run off with Mick
hugedyno27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Soloing routes well within your limits isn't an adrenaline thing, 'cause you're no more likely to fall, than say, walking down a steep staircase.
Highball bouldering, where you're at your limit and might take a fall numerous times, is ( despite the pads ).
What Big Ron used to get up to ( ie. soloing something he could only get 1 in 20 times on a toprope ) is something totally different.

Wheels within wheels.

HD.
LakesWinter 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: It's the feel of the warm rock bathed in the last rays of the sun as it sets over the Hope valley, it's the colour, the smell, the texture and finally the stillness at the end of the route.
BrianT 27 Apr 2006
In reply to Marc C: Yeah I remember that. Spider Crack or summat wasn't it? I'd only been climbing again a few months after years off. I weighed 15 and a half stone. My legs would have snapped like twigs. Thanks for that. You saved me in the nick of time. And Jude!
Chris the Tall 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
In answer to your original question - it seems you may have a point

Went out soloing on Stanage last night (this thread whetted my appetite!) and almost everyone else was roped up. Mind you disn't see anyone top-roping either, and quite an array of routes being led (VD up to E2). Has there been a subtle shift in behaviour patterns ?
In reply to Chris the Tall:
> Went out soloing on Stanage last night (this thread whetted my appetite!) and almost everyone else was roped up. Mind you disn't see anyone top-roping either, and quite an array of routes being led (VD up to E2). Has there been a subtle shift in behaviour patterns ?

I think there has. I think the people who used to go soloing are now bouldering. Also, I think the modern 'bubble wrap' society has fostered the impression that soloing is a dangerous that only dumb people did.

I haven't got access to the actual stats, hence this may be bunkum, but I was under the impression that the most accidents per participant, across the various climbing activities, was something along the lines of -

Indoor > Sport = Bouldering > Trad > Soloing

ie. proportionally more participants hurt themselves at walls than out soloing. As the stakes are raised, everyone becomes more careful.

Of course accidents at walls don't tend to be as nasty as soloing accidents though.

Alan
Simon Caldwell 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> I think the modern 'bubble wrap' society has fostered the impression that soloing is a dangerous that only dumb people did.

I don't see any sign of that - I'm sure I see just as many people soloing as I ever have (though I've only been climbing for about 12 years so perhaps there were more soloists before that). There are more people climbing though, so the proportion of soloists is lower. And as you say, there are trillions more boulderers.

If the 'bubble wrap' phenomenon were true then I wouldn't expect to see the increase in numbers of outdoor trad climbers that there's been.
In reply to Chris the Tall: I wish I'd been roped up - trying to follow you soloing everything in sight was a scary experience ;)

Lovely evening though. Quite a lot of climbers out enjoying the sunshine. Only saw 2 climbers soloing on the whole of the popular end, apart from Chris and myself.
Witkacy28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

> Of course accidents at walls don't tend to be as nasty as soloing accidents though.

To put it mildly. At the wall it's usually someone spraining a wrist. Real solos involves hard moves at least 7m up, in the death zone. Rather than being a necessary part of climbing, it's a specialization for the few. Of course there will always be many more happy to solo very easy routes (like short scrambling) or do hard moves a few metres up (like high bouldering).
Chris the Tall 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Without wishing to sound like uncle Ken - I reckon the climbing walls are to blame

I got into climbing via walking and scrambling - so I was well used to exposure and tackling the unknown, albeit on a moderate scale.

People now will almost always have started climbing indoors, possibly even have lead indoors, before going outside. So they get used not only to have regular protection, but also obvious holds.

Every route I did last night I've soloed before, but I did start to wonder about my state of mind when I first did them - mostly around 88/89 when I first moved to Sheffield. I'm a better climber now that I was then, but a lot less bold. Quite a few times I felt I needed the reassurance of knowing where the next few were and what they were like. OK you tend to get more cautious as you get older, but I reckon it's also that the amount of time I spend leading on indoor walls that's made me a bit less necky.
alicia 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
> In answer to your original question - it seems you may have a point
>
> Went out soloing on Stanage last night (this thread whetted my appetite!) and almost everyone else was roped up. Mind you disn't see anyone top-roping either, and quite an array of routes being led (VD up to E2). Has there been a subtle shift in behaviour patterns ?

(I think I met you last night, at the top of Narrow Buttress?)

I saw at least a few people soloing last night, although maybe that was you and Nick Smith? I do think that on other days there have been far more people out soloing, particularly on weekdays when people probably nip out from work.

Hope you had a good night's climbing!



Old Joker Cox28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Taking risks helps you appreciate life more.

I don't really go in for soling routes that I find really easy, there isn't much challenge but a huge downside if you make a careless mistake (because you do it alot) or you just get unlucky.

Soloing a few VSs/ HVSs for me is a good warmup. When I solo hardish routes (for me) on-sight I typically use mats as an insurance policy, I don't worry about not being able to "count" E grades when it comes to routes such as Downhill Racer, White Wand etc.

Pretty much the closest I have come to a nasty fall was soloing Walking the Whippet at Stanage; I barn doored out at the top when my foot sketched off - God just gave me a helping hand that day.


Cheers,
Jon Greengrass 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Old Joker Cox: apreciate it while it lasts...
Chris the Tall 28 Apr 2006
In reply to alicia:
>
> I saw at least a few people soloing last night, although maybe that was you and Nick Smith?

Yep, that was Nick and I - hope his gibbering didn't put you off

> I do think that on other days there have been far more people out soloing,

Do you reckon it was his BO, or mine ?

> Hope you had a good night's climbing!

Aye, wer reet grand
In reply to alicia: I said hello on my way up Hollybush Crack next to you. I was in the stylish blue Arcteryx top, while Chris was wearing some manky old red T-shirt. grin!
Chris the Tall 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Nick Smith - UKC:
You planning to resume your modelling career ?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=4724
stow 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I did 48 routes at Birchen on my 48th birthday last fall --most of them soloed (all well below E1 except for Ratline which isn't really E1).

While it's true soloing has a unique and powerful meditative selfless quality to it because of the intense focus (and the lack of gear and mates and other disturbances helps), I think you have to recognize and accept that essentially it is a profoundly selfish activity.

I really believe you have to solo for well thought-out reasons and if you are doing it for your ego or the photos or for self-respect or to impress, you should think much harder.
alicia 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Nick Smith - UKC: Ah I remember! Did you have a good night as well?
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator28 Apr 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> Without wishing to sound like uncle Ken - I reckon the climbing walls are to blame
>

and also for all the ridicuous threads along the lines of

"how many cams do I need to do ****?"
"what's the strongest knot?"
"what do I do if my partner is eaten by a bear?"
"where's the nearest 500m bolted 5+ to Ipswich?"
"am I allowed to use a wire brush?"
"how hard is El Cap?"

bah, humbug, mutter, mutter, mutter


Chris
Paz 28 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Firstly, I don't really think of it as soloing anymore.
Unless I've got the routes wired and I'm warming up.

I used to do it a bit when I was frustrated at
climbing easy things slowly with gear but it was always about a route. Or if I just didn't have anyone to go climbing with and had half an idea about soloing something I'd go and do it. If a route's a solo, then fine, climb it.

I'm slow but not happy about it so I don't really like being slowed down further. I'm really not happy about being tied to someone else `moving together' more like dieing together,
if I don't know them and don't trust them (I'm amazed how these mountaineers do it - I don't even trust reputations anymore, no wonder the tibloc on the cam is so popular with guides, given the girth of their clients it's a life (and livelihood) saver for them) and especially if they're not as good as me and I think they'll kill me. Top or bottom of the rope it's a choice between being dragged off route by them by their routefinding or being dragged off the route altogether by them by their airborn fat arse. Sadly the vast majority of people I've met who are into mountains do not fulfill me with the confidence I need. Those that do I am probably more keen to go sport climbing with, partners who are up for 7bs being thin on the ground as another rocktalker has noticed.
This, as well as the crap weather and my incompetence with technical clothing, is my main problem with mountains.

I am happy however for any member of the public to belay me after I have shown them how and they are then welcome to second.

These days I'm not bothered about the easy routes by default, as I was before, having done them, unless I fancy them for fun. And also even if I'm climbing on my own, I now have better things to do with my time, more efficient ways to get hard satisfying things done,
basically bouldering yes, but there's the odd `sport' thing I want to shunt too to check it out for redpoint.
that I haven't done before.

So being one of these `young boulderers' you mention, I fall off a lot and have a good idea of what I can reliably fall off of safely. Or at least jump off. The stereo type of the `old soloist' is of someone who never falls.
I think we've all just cottoned on to what Ben learned from Jerry learned from John (Bachar, or was it Sherman?)in the 80s. They called it training, but most of us have found it the most productive way to go climbing, with conditions and whatnot.

Secondly having solo'd something, I'm often not in the mood to do an other, it takes a while for the adrenaline to subside.

Thirdly, even when this isn't the case and I'm yomping up stuff, Stanage is a bit high. You fall off the top of that you die, or are at least lucky to survive. 99% of those routes have bomber gear, and you're just increasing the grade by not bringing it along. Burbage North's shorter routes I can tell myself there's at the very least a half decent chance of surviving if I fall off and I'm unlucky if you cop it.
Dominion 29 Apr 2006
In reply to Duncan_S:

> Indeed, sometimes at Froggat I am suprised by the number of people soloing hard routes.

Saw someone soloing Downhill Racer the other week. Looked remarkably like the bloke on the cover of Burbage, Millstone and Beyond. He was having a go at Toy Boy (E7 7a) a bit previous to that, with a self-belay type rope thing dangling the length of the slab...
Simon 29 Apr 2006
In reply to Dominion:


That may have been James - (aka keen youth)

good effort if he's ging for Toy Boy tho - its only had 1 ascent since Ron did it from Ben Heason...

Si
Mark Davies PK 29 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I used to love soloing on the grit when i lived in Sheffield and i think its a great way to kick the arse of this nany state society we are developing. I mean driving a car is SAFE?
Mark Davies PK 29 Apr 2006
In reply to The Pylon King:

AND onsight soloing at my limit (ok, only E2) was the best
Dave Stelmach 29 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Probably went to find routes of a challenging length
yer maw 30 Apr 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I like all soloing but have to be in the mood for it. grit is especially good as you can trust the friction and holds etc. especially at the grade I solo at, ;D
RockyRob 30 Apr 2006
i've only solo'ed at the roaches myself. mainly because i know the area and the routes to go for. i'd have to be climbing somewhere for at least 2 months before soloing anything. saying that, i don't find soloing much different, and don't get an adrenaline rush from it. its just another route. overhangs float my boat baby( the rocky ones, not the flabby ones;)
Ian McNeill 02 May 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

probably no one to sue or blame if you fall off !

hav to agree with Chris craggs - tis the purest form on the rock -- Remind me I will have to make a vist to the grit and re climb some of them... solo !


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