Originally Posted By: GOclimb
Here's my response to the idea that roped climbing is reasonably safe, while solo climbing is reckless:

Free solo is not safer or less safe, it's just that the safety is not gear-dependant.

Think of it this way. A small child cannot safely navigate a flight of stairs. He needs to have a parent stand behind him to guard against toppling over and falling to his death. But with experience comes competence. Just so, all the gear in the world wouldn't be enough to keep my colleague (who's only climbed in a gym a few times) from dying, if he were to try to lead a 5.7 G route. Yet I or most any competent trad leader could breeze up it safely. Continuing further up the skill-chain, my death route would be like a flight of stairs to a more skilled climber. Make sense?

Free soloing is not necessarily reckless. Safety is not really about gear, or certain "correct" ways of using it. Free soloing can simply be the expression of a different type of safety mechanism, applied by a highly skilled climber who understands deeply his own strengths and limitations.


Still not really the same thing. Many of us have countless years of experience and are accomplished climbers and have highly developed levels of skill and self awareness and still choose to not solo. Why? In my case it is a combination of family responsibilities and an unwillingness to take the extra chance that should something happen beyond my control that I would fall without any backup. A bee could sting you, a hold could break, a foot could slip just to name a few. When soloing this could be catastrophic, while when using gear this would simply be and enjoyable ride.