Chris Sharma has won the Masters Series I Psicobloc, a unique new deep water solo climbing competition held in the Spanish city of Bilbao this weekend, reports Prana.
Over 4,000 spectators lined the banks of the Bilbao Estuary to watch Sharma, 29, and over a dozen other top athletes compete to climb a 50-foot-high overhanging wall built on the bank of the river. Competitors climbed without ropes, plunging a story or more into the water each time they fell, with few making it past an all-points-off dyno halfway up the wall.
Sharma won the contest easily, topping out the route twice while his nearest competitor, Bruno Macias, only made it about two-thirds of the way up.
Over the past several years, deep water soloing--climbing over water without a rope--has grown from a fringe activity to an accepted climbing discipline. The epicenter of the sport is the Spanish island of Mallorca, made famous by the ropeless antics of climbers like Sharma, Miguel Riera, and Klem Loskot. While some climbing festivals have held informal competitions on sea cliffs, the Psicobloc Masters is the first deep water soloing contest to take place on a World Cup-style artificial wall.
Speaking on sponsor Prana's blog, Sharma called the success of the competition "great proof that climbing can be an amazing spectator sport."
"Looking back on the years when climbing was in the X Games but just couldn’t translate to the mainstream audience because [of] its slow subtle nature, this new form of competition will surely blow the minds of any non climber and I believe will be a key element in climbing becoming a more mainstream sport," he said.