Climbing Solo

Post general questions and discuss issues related to climbing.
User Avatar

Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:54 am
Thanked: 6 times in 5 posts

Climbing Solo

by Rossi » Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:45 am

I’m doing my first solo climb on mount Dana this weekend the route is all ice now. Have done other solo climbs but this seems a bit more real to me. Any suggestions?

In theory it seems quite simple, I have been up three times with my partner. However, as many times before I do a climb I start thinking about all the scary stuff. :shock:

User Avatar

Posts: 980
Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 10:19 pm
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

by MichaelJ » Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:09 am

Don't fall.

User Avatar

Posts: 1044
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2001 7:44 pm
Thanked: 283 times in 109 posts

by mvs » Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:09 am

You are already answering your own question. I think it's important that you do it or don't do it based on your own counsel. Don't ask us!

User Avatar

Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:54 am
Thanked: 6 times in 5 posts

by Rossi » Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:25 am

I'm not asking if I should do it or not do it. That wasn't my question

mvs wrote:You are already answering your own question. I think it's important that you do it or don't do it based on your own counsel. Don't ask us!

no avatar
The Chief

Thanked: time in post

by The Chief » Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:41 am

The following stuff has kept me alive and availed me many successful trips, SOLO, in the past 25 years! Ironically, I am out the door to do one after I write this... 8)

-DO NOT attempt any goals that are not well within your comfort zone and current climbing ability range for your first solo gig! Plan for a challenge that will lead you and end in a successful trip. This may entail something at least two grades below your current abilities.

-Leave a full itinerary with a topo map of your trip with someone close and then DO NOT deviate from it.

-Readdress your thought process to think positive things about the climb prior to your departure.

-On the approach and during the climb, focus on the task at hand and filter out any "noise" that is not condusive to your success. Remain confident, but, if during your climb, that sixth sense kicks in and tells you to back off because something just doesn't feel right... DO SO without any guilt!

-Have fun and stay alive... the rock/ice ain't going anywhere and you can always return another day to climb again!

no avatar

Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:55 am
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by jleicht » Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:13 pm

am in the middle of reading Twight's book 'Kiss or Kill' (for like the 10th time) and the biggest thing that has kept him alive during all of his EXTREME solos. He has no ego and no problem with turning around if the conditions are not right or if he gets spooked. and the above comment is key. Don't climb up, if you cant reverse the same climb. Dana is pretty straight forward, but it is a long straight slide down to the grinder at the bottom if you have any issues.....

Good Luck, climb safe!


User Avatar

Posts: 8960
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:55 pm
Thanked: 59 times in 38 posts

by rhyang » Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:13 pm

I've soloed the Dana Couloir several times. I've brought a light harness, some slings and a couple of screws in case I got tired and wanted to rest.

Get an early start so you are not behind other parties - a chunk of ice could ruin your day.

Rockfall is also a concern - steer clear of the sides of the couloir, especially if they appear dirty.

Conserve energy and milk any rests you find.

Look at the sky carefully before starting up. If it looks like it will rain while you are on it, I'd go do something else.

Make sure your health and/or life insurance is paid up :)

User Avatar

Posts: 2796
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 1:03 pm
Thanked: 11 times in 10 posts

by Diggler » Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:49 pm

As stated already stated:

* be positive & confident

* don't let useless internal dialogue f$%# with your head (on the approach or while on it)

* don't let your ego determine what you do

* wear a helmet

* bring a harness, some slings, & some screws for security

* don't slip

Also, have your French technique (i.e. flat-footing) down, so you can conserve as much energy as possible.

User Avatar

Posts: 5723
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 4:25 pm
Thanked: 17 times in 13 posts

by ksolem » Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:13 pm

This is a great trip report posted over on Supertopo. Pretty much says it all.

User Avatar

Posts: 8960
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:55 pm
Thanked: 59 times in 38 posts

by rhyang » Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:11 pm

Dingus Milktoast wrote:When I've soloed haard water ice I wear a harness and thread one or two daisies so they're ready to clip into the tools. This affords me the confidence to stop and wiggle a shell out of the pack for example, with some additional security.

Wear a helmet.

Don't climb under or past and over other parties (both sins I have committed). You get bombed or you do the bombing on folks who were ostensibly there first, not cool.

My bro kevin on North Peak
Be comfortable with your rest-steps and confident your cramps won't twist off.

And of course you are 100% reliant on your gear, sometimes with only a 1/4 inch of steel betwixt you and your maker

Kevin doing this magic

One of the most anxiety-filled climbs I ever did was this same couloir on a cold fall day.... the ice on the upper half of the route dinner plated badly - every single throw of the tools or kick of the points dislodged a plate sized saucer. I had to climb the steeper right side of the gully as a roped party was on the left side, a party which I in turn bombed badly.

I was glad to be done that day.


Those are great pics Dingus, but a lot of that looks like neve, not ice. Which is great for soloing, because it's like climbing styrofoam.

User Avatar

Posts: 172
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:44 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by cbcbd » Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:42 pm

Soloing is, for me, the greatest test of one's mental fortitude in the wilderness. To me, that mental challenge feels more spectacular than a greater physical challenge with a partner.

Do not be complacent.

Be deliberate with EVERY move. Do not overbash a placement, but test every stick and fully trust it.

Remember the things you can't control - rock/ice fall, weather... minimize that to the utmost, if a rock or chunk of ice hits you you are going for a long ride.

If you don't have leashes, get tethers. Using a harness and having a sling ready with a screw is a nice touch... I don't tend to do that because it kind off breaks the focus I get into when soloing. Use natural rests for rests - if you find yourself in situations where you need to place a screw to rest then solo something easier.

It is ok to feel nervous about it now and before the climb - that will allow you to not underestimate the gravity of the solo and help you focus.
But when you are in the business you just have to tell those voices to shut the f*$% up and get on with it.

If you have done a climb before you have an advantage - you can repeatedly remind yourself that you have done it and CAN do it.

User Avatar

Posts: 6331
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2002 2:32 am
Thanked: 69 times in 43 posts

by Andinistaloco » Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:58 pm

If you're going to solo something harder than what you've done before, only go with something that's a little harder. Don't push it too fast. For instance, if after some practice you feel you're now okay to solo 5.2, don't jump straight to 5.6.


Return to General


  • Related topics
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: T. White and 0 guests