New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby BrianC » Jan 23, 2012 4:21 pm

NZcaver wrote: What a boring world it would be with handicapped access everywhere and guard rails on the Grand Canyon.


Kinda like wheel chair ramps into swimming pools! :sad:
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby BrianFrank » Jan 23, 2012 6:00 pm

Come on guys....you can't argue that this man must have nerves of steel to climb 2,000 ft. above the ground on walls that sometimes include a 90+ degree angle? Crazy or not, his physical ability and mental collective is superhuman. I disagree to those who believe he is in it to showboat. He is not in it for the money nor the fame. It is just what he loves to do. For him to have a following is natural, not asked for. The story behind this video is that they had to really press him to do this on camera. Most of his climbs are by himself or with a few friends. He turns down most interviews and most endorsements.

But, I do agree he is taking ridiculous risks and if I owned cave-pits or cliffs I would not allow free solo climbers to use them. If I were part of the management team at SCCI I would encourage rules against free solo climbing in SCCI caves. Why? because that is encouraging unnecessary risks. In climbing and cave diving it is one thing to have quality equipment, set the equipment up properly and use the equipment properly. That is acceptable risk and comes with a degree of inherit safety. But, if you're free soloing and you make the tiniest of any mistake you are immediately done, finished...that is unnecessary risk. How can anyone argue this?
Last edited by BrianFrank on Jan 23, 2012 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby chh » Jan 23, 2012 7:07 pm

BrianFrank wrote: But, if you're free soloing and you make the tiniest of any mistake you are immediately done, finished...that is unnecessary risk. How can anyone argue this?

I certainly won't argue with the severity of the consequences in free soloing. But your "inherent safety" in this activity is your physical and mental prowess, which you must work very hard to cultivate. Just because you can climb at an elite level doesn't necessarily mean you wouldn't be taking extreme risk in free soloing. All elite free climbers are not cut out to be free soloists, and all free soloists are not elite climbers.
There are many states, for example, where it is perfectly legal to operate a motorcycle on any road without a helmet. Though I enjoy going for a ride on mine, I think riding without a helmet is just plain crazy. I think there are just as many if not more inherently dangerous variables on the interstate than there are on your typical crag climb. I think about this every time I ride.
I think there SHOULD be helmet laws nation wide. But I'd like the law to stay the hell away from climbing. It's a contradition I know but I'm not trying to convince anyone that I'm right, just voicing an opinion.
In the end I always come back to the amount of risk there is in everyday life that people just ignore behind a veil of familiarity.
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby BrianFrank » Jan 23, 2012 7:21 pm

chh wrote:But your "inherent safety" in this activity is your physical and mental prowess, which you must work very hard to cultivate.


Your telling me that when Alex is hanging 2,000' off the ground by 5 finger tips (not fingers) and the ball of one foot should be considered "inherently safe" because he has physical and mental prowess? :rofl:

Look, I like Alex, he seems genuinely humble and he is superhuman, but there should be a law against using the word "safe" within a mile of one of his climbs.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby chh » Jan 23, 2012 8:01 pm

I make no assumptions about his safety. I only maintain that the idea of safety is one that is hard to pin down.
And if the word "safety" bothers you, let me put it another way. I have more confidence in Alex performing those things than in the average high schooler piloting their dad's SUV on the highway while texting a status update to Facebook. The resounding difference is in the event of a screwup Alex will only get himself killed. The same is not necessarily true in the other instance.
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby BrianC » Jan 23, 2012 10:29 pm

BrianC wrote:
NZcaver wrote: What a boring world it would be with handicapped access everywhere and guard rails on the Grand Canyon.


Kinda like wheel chair ramps into swimming pools! :sad:


I probably should have finished this post, Wheelchair ramps or a lift, are required by law for all commercial swimming pools in Tennessee. Wheelchair races in the swimming pool will be scheduled soon at a pool near you.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Jon » Jan 23, 2012 11:04 pm

Many of you are missing the main point. The network glorified this. Made the guy a hero, made him look like he's teaching kids stuff at indoor climbing venues. The point is too many kids today live in a virtual world, one in which mistakes are solved with reset or start new game. Yes there is a time and a place for sensible free climbs. However in such a public place where kids or adults for that matter could watch this guy splash or for that matter publicizing it on the air is not in the spirit of what this guy claims he portrays. He could have very easily said no to any interview, he could have easily said no to the various photographers. He could have changed the date. But did he? NO! This was showboating plain and simple. Matter of fact he stated that he had made the climb several times with ropes. SO WHAT WE HAVE IS A PLAIN AND SIMPLE CASE OF SHOWBOATING. Like I said there is no difference in ability with or without ropes if you don't lean on the rope. This was a climb for no reason (he had already beaten it more than once) other than to show that he was stupid enough to do it. And he didn't do it for himself, he did it before a fawning network for a major segment of a major network show. Gee I wonder if after this his rate went up for endorsements....nah there was nothing in it for him. The only thing that the media did that negatively cast a light on this fool was to comment how he sometimes lived in his van and sometimes didn't shower for a few days.

Yes there are times that parts of climbs are hard to belay someone in (and that might not be enough) but to have no safe line for an entire climb because some parts can't have one is stupid. Yes this guy is in incredible climber, but brainpower isn't one of his strong points. . This was nothing more than a go for broke increase in what he gets paid for endorsements or ads. Plain and simple. And yes it was mentioned that he does do endorsements and or ads

Oh and just how did the media find out about this supposed humble and private climb? It's not like this was Madonna going to a Hollywood event.

Still opinionated


Oh and on the "inherent safety" bit. To have no safe line even when one could be there is well NO SAFETY. Like I said a gust of wind and he'd be nothing more than a bio-spill at the base.

I used to race cars, just because I had rented the track and there was nobody else on it didn't mean I wore no seat belts, helmet or nomex.

THERE WAS NO REASON OTHER THAN VANITY TO DO THAT CLIMB WITH NO LINE. Is every line a good one? No. Will every or even ANY save you every time? No. But no line is stupid when one COULD be there (and has been in the past)....because he COULDN"T control the wind etc.


If enough dumb asses get killed or maimed at a climb guess what? IT GETS CLOSED. Let's encourage this kind of stuff so you REALLY CAN HAVE ACCESS ONLY TO WHEELCHAIR ACCESS PLACES.!
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby paul » Jan 24, 2012 7:14 am

So, is the problem that the guy did the climb solo or that he was filmed doing the climb solo?
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Billy » Jan 24, 2012 7:25 am

THERE WAS NO REASON OTHER THAN VANITY TO DO THAT CLIMB WITH NO LINE


Yes, there are other reasons than vanity. Soloing is a very personal thing, and I can tell people aren't going to understand that here. AH is a 'showboat'? Endorsements? People who use that 'follow the money' bs reasoning should really look how he lives.

I had to watch the video (I've seen enough AH before) to see where people were getting this. Agree to disagree I guess. The only things I'll add is that I was amused to see John Long give the commentary (mentioned him previously as an author). He's still rock solid. And a thousand times the 'showman' Alex is, for that matter. For those who like their history, the climb The Phoenix mentioned as the free solo is where Ray Jardine (developer) first placed Friends (camming protection) on a first ascent.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby KeyserSoze » Jan 24, 2012 12:10 pm

If he gets enjoyment by risking his life then I'm happy for him. Some people die at his age and may have never enjoyed their lives at all. The only problem I have with this activity is the fact that it will surely inconvenience the people who will eventually have to clean him up. Also, if he wants to "showboat" then that's cool too. It does make for great entertainment.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby l lambert » Jan 24, 2012 6:02 pm

Listening to cavers discuss climbing is like listening to climbers talk about rappelling. Give it a rest. Cavers free solo in caves all the time.
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby MUD » Jan 24, 2012 11:47 pm

l lambert wrote:Cavers free solo in caves all the time.

Very true. I've been doing it myself for many years. No showboating involved!
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Jon » Jan 25, 2012 1:35 am

Ok I've said he's a great climber. And I've said that there are times when free climbing is "needed". But this wasn't needed and I really can't see how "personal" this stunt was with all the film crew and in depth story. How He lives? Ok forgive my spelling but I have one name for you, Leona Helmsly. Also I seem to recall the line "when he's in the U.S." Um I guess he gets free airfare around the world right? Free rental cars, land transportation, food and some hotels here and there? His source of income besides the endorsements? Must be a pretty good part time job to jet set around the world. You know some people complained that Roadrunner cartoons etc caused kids to do stupid things. Dumb as some of the kids (and adults for that matter) I'm worried about are, most can tell the difference between cartoons, hollywood special effects and reality. Problem is they aren't smart enough to realize that not all people can share the same reality. With the media today I would bet that some were hoping for some great footage of a splat, and they'd be the only ones with the video. We warn you some images may be graphic and not suitable for all audiences.....

Enough said
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Jon » Jan 25, 2012 1:39 am

Cave mud,
2,000 feet? On 60 Minutes? And what caves do you do that can blow like that face can?
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Re: New Sport - Free Solo Climbing in Caves

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 25, 2012 9:33 am

2000 feet on granite, or 40 feet on slick muddy walls, either one can kill you. Hell, a 12 foot fall in a cave can kill you. Ever done a 12 foot free climb in a cave? I have.
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