Image by Clay Banks

Free Solo Climbing

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

Free solo climbing or free soloing, is a form of rock climbing where the climber performs a climb alone without ropes, harnesses, or other protective equipment, forcing them to rely entirely on their own individual strength and skill. That's a basic definition of Free solo rock climbing. But It is so much more. Alex Honnold, the only human to free solo El-Capitan in Yosemite National Park, said "it doesn't matter how mentally focused you are, if you can't do the physical part, nothing else matters." That's harsh. The physical demands of free soloing are indeed tremendous and are only for the physically fit and fearless. Free soloing is the most dangerous form of climbing, and unlike bouldering, free soloists climb above safe heights, where a fall can very likely be fatal. Though many climbers have attempted free soloing, it is considered "a niche of a niche" reserved for the sport's elite, which has led many practitioners to stardom within both the media and the sport of rock climbing. 'Free solo" was originally a term of climber slang, but after the popularity of the Oscar-winning film, Free Solo Merriam-Webster officially added the word to their English dictionary in September 2019. Because of the difficulty and risk of free soloing, those relatively few elite climbers who do it grab more media attention than those climbers who stick to other rock climbing disciplines: bouldering, free climbing, Aid climbing, and Deep Water Soloing. If you have the stomach, watch the video below of the world's most famous Free Soloist, Alex Honnold. His legendary climb of the famous El-Capitan, which is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is about 3,000 feet (914 m) from base to summit along its tallest face and is a popular destination for rock climbers.


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