The Most Extreme Summer Sports: Free Solo Climbing

These sports aren't necessarily deadly, but they certainly instill an imminent sense of death—which is what makes them so thrilling and why we can't look away.

Aug 7, 2013
Outside Magazine
alex honnold climbing yosemite free climbing free soloing

Honnold, high up and ropeless.    Photo: Courtesy of the Reel Rock Film T

A Sport that Consumes its Heroes

Though statistics are nonexistent, some of the sport's greatest climbers, like John Bachar, have died from falls.

In his Outside profile of Alex Honnold, the world’s best free solo climber, David Robert’s wrote that free soloing’s, “fundamental rule is stern and simple: If you slip, you die.” With that thought constantly in mind, top free solo climbers move with methodical precision up seemingly sheer rock walls. A poorly placed handhold is likely the last a free solo climber makes.

The sport requirers climbers to go against human nature, quashing the anxiety that comes with the prospect of immenent death, because there’s no place for quivering thighs a hundrend plus feet above the ground. Contemplate what falling from that height would do to your body, feel your heartbeat rise, then imagine clinging to the wall yourself.

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