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#58477 - 07/03/11 10:36 AM Re: Free Soloing [Re: rg@ofmc]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5972
Loc: 212 land
Free soloing has been an intrinsic part of climbing since its very beginnings

What people did before ropes were invented. What mountain goats and mountain sheep did before there were people.
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#58562 - 07/06/11 12:31 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: oenophore]
phlan Offline

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Registered: 02/11/00
Posts: 2778
Loc: Gardiner, NY
I think of all those stories I've read about Tobin Sorenson. talk about spectacles in front of an audience. once, a spectator couldn't take it went behind a bush and puked.

RG hints at this, but I've always felt the commercialization of soloing (images of it on advertising and in film) are something I don't want to see and don't approve of. During the film festival when they showed the Alex Honold on Half Dome, I walked out. (yes, I tried soloing once and it wasn't for me.)
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#58564 - 07/06/11 01:04 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: phlan]
schwortz Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/10/03
Posts: 308
this thread makes me want to puke more than watching anyone solo does.

whats next? not allowed to run it out if someone else is around? not allowed to get on R rated routes? not allowed to lead on only passive gear? not allowed to high ball?

i think of the interview with crusher for the derek hersey piece included in front range freaks. to paraphrase he says something like "if you've never gone soloing you've never really gone climbing" - this was in the context of saying that going climbing means (or meant) you went out and did some following, some leading, some bouldering, some soloing...they're all part of climbing....3rd class, 4th class, 5th class...its all relative

to declare that soloing has no place in climbing, or no place in the gunks is at best ignorant and at worst insulting to the history of climbing, the history of the gunks, and aesthetic aspects of climbing in the first place. this kind of attitude speaks not to the selfishness of the soloist but to the shortsighted selfishness of the commentator.

while i agree that generally speaking soloing is obviously most often and perhaps best pursued alone...that this in no means precludes one from soloing when others are nearby. with more and more crowds at the gunks it becomes more difficult to find alone time at the cliffs. while i wouldnt solo on the frogs head wall when it was crawling with people i wouldnt avoid soloing in the gunks because someone happened to be sitting at the base of the cliff or racking up on another climb.

what of the soloist who isnt local? who only has one or a couple days a year in the gunks? should he or she refrain from climbing because of a disapproving ego at the base?

you claim its inappropriate to solo when others are around because those who do not approve are forced to endure....when was the last time you recall being forced to endure a free solo death in the gunks? i can fill this thread with stories of "being forced to endure" noob epics, rescues and ground falls on 5.3, 5.7 or 5.10 in the gunks. maybe they're the ones who should have refrained from climbing when someone else was around

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#58568 - 07/06/11 01:28 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: schwortz]
phlan Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/00
Posts: 2778
Loc: Gardiner, NY
I was hoping this would engender some controversy!

people are going to solo, Steve. it's a valid part of the game for some people. I tried it myself. I just don't want to watch it. I've already watched enough world class climbers solo. and now it's my prerogative to walk away from it.

it's the commercialization of it that bothers me the most.

the one soloist that I admire is Peter Croft. he is amazing.
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#58572 - 07/06/11 01:43 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: phlan]
schwortz Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/10/03
Posts: 308
phlan-man

i couldnt resist....

by all means its your prerogative (isnt that a great word?) to walk away and you should if you dont like it....but just the same its the soloists prerogative to solo...world class or local nobody....just the same...

croft, potter, bachar, arnold, gullich, huber, honnold, lacelle, edlinger, destivelle, reardon, davis, hersey, sorenson, yabo, humar, steck, leary, messner, and the local guy or gal at your local crag....they all have something to admire...and while they all may solo for different reasons, you can bet they share some of the same motivations....and i'm willing to bet that commercial interests are not chief among them

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#58573 - 07/06/11 01:47 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: phlan]
SethG Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 709
Loc: NYC
Climbing is about knowing your limits. If you climb at all and think you are never de facto free soloing then you are kidding yourself. You never ran it out in 5.3-5.5 territory?

When I think about soloing I always think back to the day I broke my ankle. On that same morning I saw a guy with a little backpack head up High Exposure, free solo. I thought he was crazy.

Then I promptly hurt myself while wearing a harness, using a rope, and placing gear as liberally as I was able to do.

I didn't hear any accident reports about the soloist so I assume he did just fine.

So which of us was more in touch with our limits that day? Which of us was crazy? Which of us was safer?
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#58590 - 07/06/11 06:33 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: SethG]
chip Offline
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Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2676
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
The primary thing that keeps each of us off the deck is our CLIMBING, not our protection. The soloist sees that quite clearly.

Long story told short: Many years ago I spent an eternity keeping a young man about my college age alive after he fell about 60 feet to the deck of City Lights. He didn't intent to solo but came undone from the rope. He died that night. It stuck with me quite awhile and possibly still does. His choice to climb and mine to try to help him. While I did not return to leading my level for about a year I would not change my response. This game is, for me at least, much more about the people than the grade. Choice is a beautiful thing and who are any of us to decide for another?

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#58598 - 07/06/11 07:28 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: schwortz]
see Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 2
Originally Posted By: schwortz

you claim its inappropriate to solo when others are around because those who do not approve are forced to endure....when was the last time you recall being forced to endure a free solo death in the gunks? i can fill this thread with stories of "being forced to endure" noob epics, rescues and ground falls on 5.3, 5.7 or 5.10 in the gunks. maybe they're the ones who should have refrained from climbing when someone else was around



I agree there's a long history of soloing as a part of climbing and the development of different climbers, both at the Gunks and elsewhere.

I quoted part of your response because I have some firsthand knowledge of this. I used to climb at the Gunks occasionally in the mid-90's (yeah, that long ago). Lived in CT and climbed at the local gym in Wallingford. The brother of a guy I lived with in CA while a grad student was a grad student at Yale. A close friend of his and co-worker was a pleasant and intense German (I think) woman who climbed at a very high grade (I never climbed with her, but she sent stuff in the .11-.12 range fairly easily in the gym and I would guess led 10s or 11s at the Gunks. She died soloing, I believe, Son of Easy O. It was her decision to spend a nice fall day out soloing and that climb was very well below her grade. Unfortunately the job of claiming and picking up her body fell to my friend and it wasn't something that came easily for him. My point is that while the consequences might end for you at a specific moment (assuming you die rather than sustaining an injury that makes you dependent on the care of others in a lifelong way), they exist for those you leave behind and you might think of what that means to them.

My 2 cents based on a bit of actual experience -

P.S. edited to also add that the circumstances you cite as having to "endure" really don't hold a candle to the stuff this guy went through emotionally on this. being inconvenienced is one thing, being bereaved and grief stricken is another entirely




Edited by see (07/06/11 07:31 PM)

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#58603 - 07/06/11 08:10 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: see]
schwortz Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/10/03
Posts: 308
with no disrespect meant...

you have to go back 15 years for one example of a soloing fatality in the gunks. many more accidents and injuries - fatal and otherwise life changing - happen far more frequently to people on rope. thats the point.

your friends experience would have been different if his friend had died in a car accident? or a roped climbing fall? many of us have had friends die climbing. it sucks. i dont think anyone is going to argue that.

and i really mean no disrespect...i was the first responder to a fatality at the gunks just a few years ago. turned out to be a hiker who fell from the top of the cliff. that he wasnt a climber didnt lessen the impact it had on me. it was a thursday in april. the 19th i think. i avoided the frogs head wall, where his body landed, for months. i put up prayer flags the next day because i felt like i had to do something for him.

death always has greater consequences for the living. but this has as little to do with free soloing as it does with hiking, roped climbing, or driving. this nice hiker i found died from a 200 foot fall off of the trapps. but its laughable to suggest hiking has no place in the gunks dont you think?

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#58610 - 07/06/11 08:43 PM Re: Free Soloing [Re: schwortz]
phlan Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/00
Posts: 2778
Loc: Gardiner, NY
I remember the German woman who died soloing - was not there but heard details from the rangers the next day. nearest they could tell she would have had the route well within her capability but got off route on easy o and ended up pumping out on son of easy o and fell off. I suspect that would not have happened had she been roped up. what is is the proportional deaths of tens of 1000's of people who hike or climb on a rope to the hand ful who free solo. somehow some of this rings hollow. a tragedy either way, but to me a soloer is sticking their neck out a tad even if they are a world class athlete.

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