Diggler wrote:Maybe having the actual line not covered in ropes would aid in the solo of it. Having a camera watching you the whole time might cloud ones judgment as well... Guy was f'ing lucky. Glad he came out of it OK.
rgold on supertopo.com wrote:I think Peter's take is right on. I posted this on rc.com on the original thread, but it will get a different reading here.
There is the old saying about and experienced climber being one who wasn't killed by his stupid mistakes. Personally, I have no memory of my first free solo. I woke up in the boulder field underneath a climb feeling kinda sore. I had a faint of memory of intending to solo the climb, but no recollection of starting up or falling off. There was a little water streak up a ways that would have made things slippery---maybe that had something to do with it. Of course, there were no cameras and not even another person around to tell me what had really happened.
I took the experience as a warning, but cannot say it ended the free soloing part of my career. I've done hundreds of free solos on crags and in the mountains, and think of it as part and parcel of my generation's climbing practices---virtually everyone I know did the same thing. One or two paid the ultimate price for it. But most of us didn't climb at the very edge of our roped climbing ability; my hardest solos were still at least a grade, usually two or more grades below what I could lead without falling. When my daughter was born, I stopped entirely.
I think some of the condemnation generated by the video is a result of the climber's substantial level of incompetence. Whatever grade climbs he has somehow gotten up, his technique classifies him as a beginner, and one out of place without protection. He appeared to start up mindlessly, then seemed to panic up high at the hard move, and didn't have the mental control to back down.
It is an interesting feature of modern climbing and the way people progress that someone with such poor technique has a host of "hard" climbs under his belt. I guess it is a testimony to what can be accomplished with a go-for-it attitude and lots of natural strength, fueled by an apparent lack of restraining consequences. Performing in a safe environment where there are no consequences of a blown move and every difficulty is solved by moving up is not good training for trad leading, much less free soloing. Attitudes and approaches actually have to be unlearned.
If it is possible to overlook the incompetence of the climber in this episode, there is another underlying message, and that is the ingredients in trad leading and even more so in free soloing include aspects of mental control as well as technical ability. What this means, as we saw, is that something done repeatedly with protection becomes another proposition altogether when one's ass is on the line. Looking at that fall as some sort of random failure that might have happened during any of the roped ascents but most unfortunately happened the one time the climber was unroped is, in my opinion, a dangerous misunderstanding of a very demanding game, because it suggests that the climber was the innocent victim of a random event, rather than having made a laundry list of misjudgements leading to an almost predictable end.
This puts me in mind of another personal experience, another type of failure. There is a climb I wanted to solo for years. It's 5.11 low down at bouldering height; I've done that part a countless number of times---its just a boulder problem. Then, higher up, in either the death or serious injury zone, is a 5.10 section. I've been up there 20, maybe more times over the years. I have moved up and down and into those moves and back. I always figured I could eventually learn enough about them to do the whole thing reversibly, and there was some truth in this, since I always did climb back down. But I never obtained the level of mastery I needed to push on, and so, in spite of years of attempts, I've never done it. Solo is the only way I've ever tried this particular route, and so in fact I never did do it, and now I'm way too far past my prime to even contemplate such an effort.
I could still easily top-rope the thing, but prefer to leave it as it is, with a bit of mystery which will be eternal for me, a challenge I confronted at length and ultimately declined, a failure that somehow seems to me to be more of a success than many of the harder routes I've managed to get up with a rope. It was a long path from the concussed awakening youth at the base of that unremembered wall to the aging greybeard smiling up at a lovely line never to be completed, a path I've managed to travel thanks to the imparted wisdom of many companions and the profound good luck to have survived my many mistakes.
So is that guy an idiot? The sad and terrible reality is that anyone who falls off free-soloing is an idiot, no matter who they were or what they did before that terrible last moment. Yeah, he's young, stupid, unskilled, and inexperienced, like me and a lot of other people who turned out ok in the end. He's been given an incredible gift, his life back, his health and vitality intact, when he had no right to expect it. The measure of the boy, or man, will be what he does with that gift, and we can only wish him the very best.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests