New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 21, 2012 7:54 pm

Darwinism. Only the strong survive right? Seems to me he is plenty strong. There are plenty of folks who think SRT is plain stupid yet we all do it.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Jon » Jan 21, 2012 10:52 pm

Yeah he may be strong but that much time on a free tv channel show with the hero crap that they gushed over. Get real, there are all kinds of stupid people who will see this and say dude I can do that. Then some real climbers will have to risk their lives to save a dork who never should have lived past mommas milk. This kind of stupidity shouldn't be glorified on network shows. Like I said he should have had safety lines. What difference does it make if he never leaned on them but they were there, and he didn't have them? The difference is he's an idiot. He makes any "extreme" sport look like a bunch of irresponsible idiots who try to cheat death for the sake of cheating death. Now I may push the envelope a little bit from time to time, but I don't douse myself in gasoline and play with matches. This moron goes to respectable indoor climbing facilities and prances around in front of little kids. Pardon me all to hell, but with what he does, he is in my mind endangering children. Hey kids don't do like I do, but be safe.....yeah right...how many little kids are gonna fall for that? It's just like in a video game.....hit reset and it's all good again. I don't have kids but if I did and this idiot tried giving an inspirational speech to my kid I'd smack him so hard he'd wish he fell from the climb shown.

Yeah I'm opinionated
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Jon » Jan 21, 2012 11:00 pm

By the way Chad. SRT is one more rope than this idiot had. He had nothing. A freak gust of wind, a loose handhold, a cramp. This guy is an idiot and will more than likely end up a splotch at the base of somewhere. Hopefully nobody will ever have to risk life or limb to save this idiot or to retrieve his body

Yeah I'm opinionated and proud of it
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby NZcaver » Jan 22, 2012 1:42 pm

Jon wrote:By the way Chad. SRT is one more rope than this idiot had. He had nothing. A freak gust of wind, a loose handhold, a cramp. This guy is an idiot and will more than likely end up a splotch at the base of somewhere. Hopefully nobody will ever have to risk life or limb to save this idiot or to retrieve his body

Yeah I'm opinionated and proud of it

I find myself in total agreement with Jon's opinionated tirade. :rant:

Years ago I helped a youth program out with some basic rock climbing instruction and belaying at a rock face in Vermont. We'd just finished setting up and explaining everything, when this guy dressed for bouldering decides to free solo all the way to the top right in front of the kids. He then comes down uninvited to announce to the kids 'safety first - don't try that yourselves' etc. Do what I say, not what I do. Very nice. Wonder if he'd be saying the same thing with his dying breath as volunteers try to administer first aid to his bloody smear on the ground. Several descriptive words were going through my mind, but none that can be posted here. Somebody told me later the guy is well-known for chopping out bolt anchors on climbing faces because he objects to them. Moron. :roll:
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 22, 2012 4:09 pm

I agree that obviously extreme examples of free solo climbing are foolish. I would hope that people could be equally impressed by such a display of skill even if it were backed up by some safety measures, but I'm afraid the stupidity of the act enhances the glamour in the minds of many.
I'm a little conflicted, though, when it comes to being an example for kids etc. Kids have so many horrible examples thrust constantly in their faces that I don't think anyone should expect differently. It shouldn't be the responsibilty of television programs or random moronic climbers to teach people about good judgement and common sense. Still, it surely wouldn't hurt to inform the kiddies that the climber in question is a fool.
And here's another thing. Many people who have little outdoor experience, or no exposure to climbing, can't really differentiate between an act of suicidal athleticism and a relatively safe maneuver. I'm not a real climber, but I do a 70' free solo near a state owned hiking trail on a regular basis. It's an easy climb, nothing extreme about it, but it doesn't look that way to the tourists who may happen to be there. Should I feel guilty for setting a bad example for them? Hopefully not, for I really enjoy the hike and climb.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 22, 2012 5:05 pm

I think you guys should tell us how you really feel and stop holding back ;)
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby BrianC » Jan 22, 2012 5:19 pm

Chads93GT wrote:I think you guys should tell us how you really feel and stop holding back ;)


OK Doc, here it goes! I feel very little enthusiasm for this kind of selfish atrocity. I have free climbed on some hard routs where I felt very satisfied with my performance and thought about what it would feel like to solo the route. I always come to the same conclusion, It would not be worth the agony that my family would feel. Anything could happen from a simple slip, to pulling back on a flake that breaks. I really think that these guys that solo hard stuff have a death wish, they would have to. So it is there dream to dream, even if their dream eventually lasts forever. If you look into the eyes on this guy, you see nothing but black. :sad:
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby chh » Jan 22, 2012 5:28 pm

What gets me about this whole phenomenon (and it isn't limited to Alex) is the video cameras. There are plenty of videos of people, both professional and unprofessional athletes free-soloing.
For me, free soloing has been an activity that is purely personal. I've had wonderful times free soloing by myself and with good friends. I've also turned around to go back for the rope if there were other people around. Not because I don't want to give other people bad ideas, but because for me having strangers around watching detracts from the experience. I always felt that if there were other eyes in the equation it would equal showboating, regardless of my intention, and so I wouldn't continue. Humility was always one of the biggest emotions accompanying free soloing for me.
This is how I feel about people who free solo for a camera: they're showboating, even though this may not be so in their minds. It's just a gut reaction that I have.
People have, and will continue, to do things far more stupid and reckless than free soloing. And I would argue that they will continue to do these stupid reckless things more often than free soloing is done. I cannot police these folks, nor would I want to.
People are responsible for their own actions, just as they are entitled to have their own interpretations of other's actions. If joe shmoe viewer sees Alex Honnold free soloing and then decides that this is a safe and intelligent thing to do with no experience and subsequently gets himself killed, it's joe's fault. Not Alex's. I believe this even though I hackle at people choosing to videotape free soloing.
And insofar as endangering the lives of rescuers, I have mixed feelings. I would guess that the instances of rescuers responding to roped climbers vs. unroped climbers is much higher if we allow for a certain level of skill. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, I certainly haven't done the research.
On the one hand I believe wholeheartedly that you should consider the impact of your actions on other people in everything that you do. On the other, I recognize the subjective nature of what is and isn't "dangerous". What if someone who liked to free solo shook their finger at cave divers and said "Thats crazy and dangerously irresponsible!" Does that make it so?
Life is a subjective and very often dangerous experience no matter what activities you may be involved in. Get over it.
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 22, 2012 5:34 pm

chh wrote:for me having strangers around watching detracts from the experience. I always felt that if there were other eyes in the equation it would equal showboating, regardless of my intention, and so I wouldn't continue.


I agree. I have kept climbing at times when folks were around, but it's always a bit uncomfortable. I've spent five or ten minutes just hanging on the rock waiting for people up top to move on before I pop over the lip and make a scene.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby paul » Jan 23, 2012 7:42 am

I suppose the argument that you should never solo a rock climb under any circumstances has the eventual conclusion that you should never climb anything unless it is 100% safe.

In the UK where "traditional" rock climbing is the norm as opposed to bolted "sport" routes, even if you do have a rope and are belayed, there is a chance that the protection could fail. Many climbs are well protected in that there are plenty of places to place protection while leading the route and the chances that they will fail are quite small. There is still a level of risk that a piece could fail and risk as an accepted calculated risk. Part of the ethos of "traditional" climbing i sthat you don't modify or damage the rock and that there is an element of adventure. Without any risk, the element of adventure is removed.

At the top level of graded climbs, not only are the moves very difficult, but in some cases the protection may be very sparse or even poor. And with some of the highest graded climbs on that scale, you are to all intents and purposes soloing despite the rope either because there just isn't anywhere to place protection or the protection is so insubstatial that it's very likely to fail after a fall. If soloing is unacceptable under any circumstances, then surely climbing these routes, even while belayed. is also unacceptable.

Then, at what level of risk do you draw the line? Is one particular level of risk acceptable? Or do you ban "traditional" rock climbing altogether?
Is someone who regularly climbs at the very highest level of difficulty soloing an easy rock climb taking a greater risk than someone else climbing a moderately difficult but not very well protected route near their highest lavel of difficulty?

I'm not saying eveyone should solo every rock climb, but simply dismissing it totally as the activty of an individual with an obvious death wish is just missing the point.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 23, 2012 8:11 am

Just ban all activity that is unsafe. Especially movies and tv shows that show dangerous stunts. Some kid could see that and imitate it too.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby LukeM » Jan 23, 2012 9:59 am

I agree with chh that defining risks and deciding to do something like free-soloing is a very personal thing requiring complete honesty with yourself. Cavers themselves engage in different levels of risk. How high in a canyon are you willing to chimney? What's your limit as far as un-roped climbs-ups or traverses go? I've done things in caves that beginners think are dangerous and crazy, yet I know it's safe and low risk and I've felt more exposed on certain playground equipment.

You don't want children to imitate Alex Honnold? Hell, I don't want children to imitate experienced cavers either! I've seen Cirque du Soleil acts where I could swear the acrobats lives are in mortal danger if they slip up, yet we all sit there and cheer instead of fearing our children will try the same thing.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby paul » Jan 23, 2012 12:49 pm

I suppose doing a blog while climbing the Harlin Route on the Eiger (see http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/blog/view/below_the_eiger), as started today, is also frowned upon?
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 23, 2012 1:06 pm

paul wrote:I suppose doing a blog while climbing the Harlin Route on the Eiger (see http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/blog/view/below_the_eiger), as started today, is also frowned upon?


climbing everest, k2, also is bad, i mean, people die there all the time.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby NZcaver » Jan 23, 2012 3:22 pm

Taking risks and living the adventurous life may well include activities which could potentially kill, and that's fine. Safety is a relative term and a sliding scale for each individual, not a switch you can just flip on and off. What a boring world it would be with handicapped access everywhere and guard rails on the Grand Canyon.

But still, showboating your way up a climb with no rope is just plain silliness. :waving:
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