Free Soloing or simply Free Solo Climbing is the purest form of climbing, though it carries a great amount of risk. The climber or free soloist, basically climbs alone, that is without a harness, safety belts, ropes or gear that would protect him/her from a fall. A 20 feet height is practical enough to be considered as free soloing. If a climber falls it will definitely effect death or cause severe injury while soloing. Most soloists perform climbs on known routes so that they are familiar with the climb and the level of difficulty, well below his/her ability. Though this is the only precaution taken, many soloists have fallen to their deaths even though the climbing routes were well below their confines.
Natural risks like loosened rocks or unexpected change in weather are imminent dangers present while practicing a solo climb. The sport of Free Solo Climbing is categorized as an extreme sport because of the obvious danger. It cannot be approximated on how many climbers free solo, because majority of rock climbers use ropes or other sort of protection from a fall. Most of the climbers admit that they would never climb without any protection. But the fact is that the danger in solo climbing is beyond the climber’s control.
In Yosemite National Park, only a single death has been registered to free soloing, the case of the famous Derek HERSEY. Another famous personality to free soloing is Alain Robert, better known as SPIDERMAN who has climbed dozens of buildings. This sort of climbing is illegal, but has been known as ‘BUILDERING’. Along with BUILDERING, he has also scaled a number of mountains without the safety of harnesses, ropes etc.
Another form of free soloing is ‘deep water soloing’, where the soloist climbs sea cliffs and might get saved from injury by falling in deep water. Though only a few possible spots have been considered to be safe, the danger of soloing in such locations is the same. This is because free soloing on sea cliffs has an additional set of dangers from wet holds, waves, more loose rocks, birds and difficulties in rescue.
“Observers think[I’ve] got a death wish. But there’s nothing else that makes me feel so alive. When you’re free soloing, you can’t afford to be distracted. You concentrate on the flow from move to move to move. You exist only in the present.” This was the statement made by Derek Hershey just before the tragic free fall that lead to his death. The ‘coming alive’ feeling that most solo climbers want to experience might create a big problem for them. In June 2005, John V. ZAZZARA a climber who was using proper equipment for his climb went missing on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin.
This shows that if the climbers who use proper safety gears to avoid danger and those who do not use, what are the chances of safety for free solo climber? Some famous solo climbers known all over the world today are John BACHAR, Paul PREUSS, Dan OSMAN, Henry Barber, Derek Hershey and Dean Potter.
Though solo climbing can seem to be an extreme sport, there are a growing number of takers.
Austin Hanks with ZZ Top
DON’T MISS ROCKER, AUSTIN HANKS, AS HE OPENS FOR ROCK LEGENDS, ZZ TOP AND PERFORMS TRACKS FROM HIS RECENTLY RELEASED HARD-DRIVING ALBUM, ALABASTARD.
The celebrated songwriter's follow-up to 2005's solo debut Salt of the Earth features Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Ferrone of Tom Petty, and Jimmy Hall of Jeck Beck and Wet Willy.
Produced by Grammy Award Winner DAVID BIANCO (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, U2, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and many more). Co-produced by Austin Hanks and Executive Producer, Billy Gibbons.
A singer-songwriter and left-handed guitar player from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Alabama, Austin Hanks currently resides in southern California. His music has been described as “rockin’ country soul” and “genuine juke and twang from the dirty south.”
Hanks' country-rock sound doubles down on roadhouse honky tonk with infectious southern boogie guitars. His raspy Jackson Browne-like tenor delivers each song with undeniable grooves and frontman power not unlike rock and roll legends Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.