I have heard the stories of tragedy striking… usually without a warning… or a reason. A hold breaks and someone who was free-soloing comes free falling to the ground. Not a hope or a prayer to survive the tumble. It generally happens to folks who are incredibly strong climbers cranking through routes far below their skill level- or things that they have so wired that they could walk the route in their sleep (with a rope on).
However; there are a few things that must be done in the Arapiles… climb a route called Kachoong, eat Kangaroo, and apparently free solo something relatively easy. I had already accomplished the two previous ticks— so what was left? Free-soloing… in general I am not a huge fan with this form climbing but hey, “What’s the worst that can happen?” (Stupid question… but it makes sense in my mind).
(this was a few hundred feet up already… ekkk!)
Gearing up for the climb was easy… chalk bag… flip flops… and Five.Ten Outlaws… no harness, no rope… no clips… no cams…? Uh oh…
We did two free-solos… one that was a classic called Syrinx; a simple 5.6 and another route that I don’t remember the name of… but each presented their own unique challenge to me- first was dealing with the decision to do this—the second was working with what I deemed the universe giving me a clear indication of what could happen. Upon approaching the base of Syrinx the wonderful folks in OZ decided to create a dedication plaque to a gentleman who had died free-soloing the exact route that my partner and I were about to head up. This kind of made me feel like the universe was giving me a sign… literally. YEAH! Logic would have said, “no…” but something else motivated me to go. I cowboyed up strapped on my shoes and a climbing I went.
To tell the truth it took a lot to maintain focus and not fall apart when we hit the exposed parts of the climbs. The difficulty would have been laughable with rope and gear… but without… it became an incredibly different experience. Sh@# was real… and quickly. After summiting the Rock-pile I felt very alive and more in tuned with the world around me… smells, sights, and the very landscape shifted into something more… it is hard to explain… and I understand the drive to free-solo; but it is something that I am not going to experiment with… I think.
(I survived… yeah so happy!!!)
Fun little video