/ NEWS: Jim Reynolds Free Solos (Up and Down) Cerro Fitz Roy

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UKC News - on 01 Apr 2019
25-year-old Californian climber Jim Reynolds has free soloed Cerro Fitz Roy in Patagonia, both ascending and downclimbing the peak with no use of ropes or gear. Reynolds soloed up and down the Northwest Ridge route (Afanassieff) in a time of 15.5 hours. Although lower in technical rock climbing difficulty than Alex Honnold's 2017 free solo of Freerider on El Capitan, Reynolds' ascent on mixed ground (rock, snow and ice) and his decision to avoid an abseil descent arguably make it one of the most impressive solo ascents of all time. Remarkably, this was also Reynolds' first expedition to Patagonia's Chaltén massif.

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Dave Garnett - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to UKC News:

Wow, impressive!

Although it's a style that tends to become an necessity if you forget the topo and your harness!   

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In reply to Dave Garnett:

At least he remembered his chalk...!

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jaipur - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

When and why did it become ‘free’ soloing? Surely a lone ascent is just ‘soloing’?

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Pedro50 on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to jaipur:

> When and why did it become ‘free’ soloing? Surely a lone ascent is just ‘soloing’?

It confirms rather than merely implying that he pulled on no fixed gear. 

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profitofdoom on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to UKC News:

This had better not be an April Fool joke, honestly I can't tell / I'm not kidding, are my perceptions really that bad

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In reply to profitofdoom:

It's definitely not!

We're not posting anything except for Fools pieces next year! People have become too cynical...!

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Wanderer100 - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to profitofdoom:

I'm wondering as well. He climbed without a rope switching between chalk and ice axes and boots, crampons and rockshoes ?? And then downclimbed the route with no protection. Sounds crazy but brilliant if true. 

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profitofdoom on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

> It's definitely not! > We're not posting anything except for Fools pieces next year! People have become too cynical...!

Natalie thanks so much for that - I really wasn't kidding, I'm not cynical, I just couldn't tell if it was an April Fool or not, now I can read the article with the attention it deserves

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Pete Dangerous - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to jaipur:

Surely 'free climbing' doesn't include crampons and ice axes anyway.

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Rob Parsons on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to jaipur:

> Surely a lone ascent is just ‘soloing’?

No; it's a free solo vs a roped solo.

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Tyler - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to UKC News:

Impressive but I think avoiding abseiling to make a purer ascent is a contrivance we can do without.

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Jon Read - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to Tyler:

The first cairn-free free descent is still up for grabs, by the sounds of it.

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ChrisClark1 - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to jaipur:

> When and why did it become ‘free’ soloing? Surely a lone ascent is just ‘soloing’?

Mainly to differentiate from a soloist who still places protection and cleans their pitches.

Despite being both great achievements, Honnold's free solo climb of El Cap is very different to Whitaker's solo free climb of El Cap ;)

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HansStuttgart - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> No; it's a free solo vs a roped solo.


Isn't it free climbing vs aid climbing (while being alone obviously)?

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Gordon Stainforth - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to UKC News:

I often wonder if the standard of climbing - I mean all types - is ever going to 'flatten out'. But it just seems to carry on being ever more amazing.

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tjdodd - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I wonder how often in the past it has been said that climbing has reached its limit and then the standard just keeps on getting higher and higher.  Surely there must be a limit somewhere.

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Rob Parsons on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to HansStuttgart:

> Isn't it free climbing vs aid climbing (while being alone obviously)?

No. A roped solo doesn't necessarily imply aid climbing.

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BrightEyes on 02 Apr 2019
In reply to profitofdoom:

Nope - and if you don't believe anyone, this was posted up two days before, courtesy of National Geographic:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/2019/03/climber-jim-reynolds-free-solos-fitz-roy/

Post edited at 00:30
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profitofdoom on 02 Apr 2019
In reply to BrightEyes:

> Nope - and if you don't believe anyone, this was posted up two days before, courtesy of National Geographic:

Thanks for that!

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HansStuttgart - on 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> No. A roped solo doesn't necessarily imply aid climbing.


I agree. But neither does soloing necessarily imply free climbing.

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Ged Desforges - on 02 Apr 2019
In reply to jaipur:

Probably not as relevant in this country, but soloes of big routes often involve pulling on gear/bolts (see videos of people soloing the nose on El Cap and pulling up the bolt ladders.

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Rick Graham on 02 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I often wonder if the standard of climbing - I mean all types - is ever going to 'flatten out'. But it just seems to carry on being ever more amazing.

Hard to decide if there is a flattening out.

You cannot graph climbing grades the same way as say the mile record time.

Each climbing grade is not necessarily the same width of difficulty despite our best concensuss.

Regarding the difficulty on cerro chalten, this is not the most impressive factor, it is the mountain environment .

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planetmarshall on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to jaipur:

> When and why did it become ‘free’ soloing? Surely a lone ascent is just ‘soloing’?

It often doesn't mean ''lone", either. Even Honnold's ascent was done in the presence of cameramen and other climbers.

A truly "solo" ascent, like Messner on Everest, Is still up for grabs.

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

> It often doesn't mean ''lone", either. Even Honnold's ascent was done in the presence of cameramen and other climbers.

> A truly "solo" ascent, like Messner on Everest, Is still up for grabs.

Although in Honnold's case it was pointed out that the presence of observers actually made it worse than soloing alone. 

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planetmarshall on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Although in Honnold's case it was pointed out that the presence of observers actually made it worse than soloing alone. 

No doubt, though it also means that there were people there to effect a rescue if the sh*t hit the fan - though I'm not sure how realistic a proposition that would be on a face like El Cap.

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Fergal - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to UKC News:

Well i guess this is an April fool joke then, comparing this  solo of a far easier mountaineering objective with Freerider is ridiculous in the extreme. They are just not comparable, had this been reported in  a tabloid, i would think fair do's, but on a climbing website!.

Post edited at 15:41
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DubyaJamesDubya - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

???? Is you response a wind up (it's too late to be an April fool)

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

Given that the only likely 'sh*t hitting the fan' scenario is falling off...

You say that the big lone solo is still up for grabs, I don't know what you mean. Do you mean of Free Rider specifically?

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HeMa on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

> Well i guess this is an April fool joke then, comparing this  solo of a far easier mountaineering objective with Freerider is ridiculous in the extreme.

0/10.

But in case you were not trolling... consider this, Honnold practiced the route a lot. Reynolds onsighted it, without a topo I might add. He also downclimbed the portion of similar level, that stalled Honnolds first attempt... in the dark...

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Fergal - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to HeMa:

Not trolling, the route in question is mainly moderate terrain, this is like comparing a headpoint solo of the Indian face with an onsight solo of Tower ridge, it is like chalk and cheese.

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Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

Of course one can't compare two completely different types of 'climbing'. Just as you can't compare Scottish winter climbing with trad British rock climbing. That's why I was careful to say above 'I mean all types' when I said 'I often wonder if the standard of climbing - I mean all types - is ever going to 'flatten out'. It is simply that this solo of Fitzroy has to be one of the more outrageous mountaineering feats today. Technically, it is obviously light years easier than Freerider.

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HeMa on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

Indian Face would be what in sport grade? 8a?

Tower ridge is what, 4c?

Freerider is 7c, and Afanassieff is ~6b.

So a tad different... not to mention the fact that it is indeed a mountain, a lot longer and also a lot nastier place to climb... And he also downclimbed it instead of casually walking off... without a topo (only what he remembered and his gut feeling).

So physical achiveament, you're right... But when all things are considered, I do think Reynolds achievement is a bigger undertakin'.

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MikeSP - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I often wonder if the standard of climbing - I mean all types - is ever going to 'flatten out'. But it just seems to carry on being ever more amazing.

By 'flatten out' you don't mean that Monty Python sketch where there climbing the oxford road do you?

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x53s2c

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planetmarshall on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Given that the only likely 'sh*t hitting the fan' scenario is falling off...

There's that, but also there are various points where he could have said, "you know what, I don't want to do this anymore", and assistance from other parties would have been possible.

> You say that the big lone solo is still up for grabs, I don't know what you mean. Do you mean of Free Rider specifically?

Yes, but I think the consensus is that Honnold's climb was a "solo", and that if someone were to rock up at El Cap with only a GoPro, no cameramen, no one else on the face and Free Solo 'Freerider', it would be considered the second such climb, and not the first.

In a mountaineering context the consensus would be different. For example, Alison Hargreaves never claimed to have "soloed" Everest despite having climbed largely unsupported in 1996, because there were about 100 other parties on the same route.

Post edited at 13:39
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DubyaJamesDubya - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

I kind of see what you mean but given the location of the crag I don't see how that could apply. Obviously any rescue would take a long time to arrange so the only way that would be an option would be to wait on a ledge which given the location would mean summoning help and waiting a bit longer than if the film crew did so.

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mrphilipoldham - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Pete Dangerous:

..or rock shoes, chalk, chalk bag, clothes..

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Fergal - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to HeMa:

Indian face the consensus is about 7b+ so not far off and the easiest route on Fitzroy has a pitch of 6a or thereabouts, but my point still stands it's not just the extra physical effort, the mind set to solo something like Freerider verse a moderate mountaineering enterprise should not be underestimated, in reality Honnold once committed could not be rescued, he wasn't wearing a harness to clip in for instance, besides claiming that this solo of Fitzroy is one of thegreat  achievments of all time is ludicrous, not to mention the solo of cerro torre by the corkscrew route or Hans on the Fisch if we must make Alpine comparisons.

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Pete Dangerous - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

"Free climbing is a form of rock climbing in which the climber may use climbing equipment such as ropes and other means of climbing protection, but only to protect against injury during falls and not to assist progress"

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Rob Parsons on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

> ... in reality Honnold once committed could not be rescued, he wasn't wearing a harness to clip in for instance ...

On this specific point: was he 'rescued' after he aborted the attempt the previous autumn after the Freeblast slab? If not, how did he get down again?

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mrphilipoldham - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Pete Dangerous:

The pedant in me would argue that all forms of protection provide mental aid and therefore assist progress. Doing a VDiff with and without gear are two entirely different outings. Crampons and axes are the rock shoes and chalk of winter/mixed climbing, and ‘basic’ equipment today. 

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Ash Routen - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

It's a bit harsh to call it a moderate mountaineering exercise.

Whilst technically lower than HJA on the Fish and AH on Freerider, the more serious nature of the mountain as a whole, the unpredictability of the Patagonian weather, and the down climb must put it in the discussion for remarkable solos? Down climbing in the dark down terrain mixed with ice and snow...yikes!

Marc-Andre Leclerc on the Corkscrew was stunning, although he had gear with him and protected himself in places.

 

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Rob Parsons on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> The pedant in me would argue that all forms of protection provide mental aid and therefore assist progress.

This is undoubtedly true, but has nothing to do with accepted definitions of the various types of solo ascents.

But of course the purest form of soloing would be in the nude, with no equipment at all. In a Winter storm. At night. And without a headtorch.

Ultimately, it's all just a game.

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mrphilipoldham - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Rob Parsons:

Indeed, and the point I was originally trying to make.

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

 in reality Honnold once committed could not be rescued, he wasn't wearing a harness to clip in for instance

But he could be rescued. All he'd have to do was wait on a ledge (not that I think this lessens the achievement) Indeed he backed off an early attempt. 

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HeMa on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> But he could be rescued. All he'd have to do was wait on a ledge (not that I think this lessens the achievement) Indeed he backed off an early attempt. 

And like I pointed out earlier. The pitch in guestion isn’t all that hard, F6c or so. A slab as well. Reynolds OS and later downclimbed similar terrain (Ok F6b or so).

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bensilvestre - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to Fergal:

> the mind set to solo something like Freerider verse a moderate mountaineering enterprise should not be underestimated, in reality Honnold once committed could not be rescued

To be honest it feels like you are the one underestimating the mindset required to solo a route like this. For a start, only a single "on the wall" rescue has ever been effected in the Fitzroy group, earlier this season, in the Torre valley, during obe of the best weather windows the range has ever seen, when there were many, many climbers present (and whom all participated). To solo this route late in the season when most climbers have gone home adds a lot to the commitment. 

Secondly, the route is enormous. You regard it as a straightforward proposition because it is technically not very difficult. So why hasn't it been soloed before? It is well within Colin Haley's paygrade, and it would have been easy for Marc Andre. Furthermore, the North Face of Fitzroy, and particularly this route, are often relatively free of snow after storms, when the East Faces are buried. And yet no one has dared commit to the solo. Why not? Have you stood beneath the North Face of Fitzroy? It beggars belief. I've climbed it twice, by technically more difficult routes than this one, and although I know that I could solo every pitch on that route, and have soloed much much harder individual pitches, there is no way that I would set off up there sans partner. Way, way too commiting.

Not to mention the solo glacier travel.

I agree that it can't really be compared to Alex's solo of Freerider, as they were quite different feats, despite both being solos, but please don't underestimate the mindset required to solo up, and then down, a route like the Affanasieff. It's no coincidence that Jim is also capable of climbing the Nose in 2h15 (ish).

And to whoever mentioned Alex being rescued on the Freerider, I don't buy that either. If he decides he doesn't feel like the crux of the boulder problem mid sequence what do you expect him to do? Wait on the smears and thumbsprags until someone comes? No chance. No one was even near him on the boulder problem so as not to distract him.

Edit: Although that said Alex could have easily been rescued from any of the ledges mid route. Whether or not the camera team were present. Not the case for Jim.

Post edited at 12:30
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