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mountainmatt

Dangers of soloing

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I had an interesting discussion at Squamish this last weekend with someone that insisted that its was less dangerous to solo than to rope climb. The logic was the people that solo know what they are getting themselves into, and therefore rarely get hurt or die. This seems crazy to me, but then again, I have not heard about a lot of soloing deaths, but have heard of lots of deaths between roped teams. Does anyone know some of the stats?

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less people solo... so there probably WOULD be less deaths. that, and if it hits the fan, only 1 dies instead of a team. statistics can prove anything you want them to.

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but it's an interesting question.

 

with a team, is it more sets of eyes and brains to cover your ass? or is a it more chances for someone to screw up?

 

then there's decision making... do groups make 'riskier' decisions than individuals?

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Solo climbing is a diffrent game. Having done My share over the years and still to this day. I have had more epics with a partner then alone.

I think anyone who Solos must have complete confidence in there ability, or just be a fool, and at times both !

I think groups can often get a feeling of confidence that is greater then there ability.

Good Topic

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depends on the person, the climb, the situation, but even some of the best die soloing even though they had done it forever. Dwight Bishop died unroped on a 5.8 and he had been known to solo up to 5.11 I think.

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depends on the person, the climb, the situation, but even some of the best die soloing even though they had done it forever. Dwight Bishop died unroped on a 5.8 and he had been known to solo up to 5.11 I think.

 

yeah, there's weather, rock fall, cramps, etc. uncontraollable factors that matter in both solo and team climbing but with a rope you most likely will be ok. solo...maybe but doubtful.

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Statistics are probably meaningless in this arena... people who climb technical stuff solo are probably people who know what they're doing, and what their abilities are.

 

There's more points of failure with roped climbing, and probably climbing roped you're going to be doing harder stuff, so you're more likely to fall on a rope than solo.

 

Still, if you're on a route that's at your limit (which for me is about 5.7!) and someone says "hey, unrope, it's safer" you might want to consider the advice carefully.

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97% of all statistics are made up on the spot

 

i solo plenty - but generally stuff that i've done previously and well below my limit - i won't die soloing but more probably while cleaning my fahqing roof drunk as a lord

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less people solo... so there probably WOULD be less deaths. that, and if it hits the fan, only 1 dies instead of a team.

 

That is fine, but we could still compare the numbers. How much safer is soloing than roped climbing or vis versa?

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Here's another way of looking at it...

 

What is the percentage of climbers who fall while free soloing

that DONT get hurt or killed?

 

vs

 

What is the percentage of climbers who fall while roped

that DONT get hurt or killed?

 

Sometimes over thinking shit can be very bad news

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this would make a great thread for rockclimbing.com

Edited by eric8

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FYI, one tends to be more attentive when soloing, so at the very least, stupid mistakes are more rare.

 

The dangers of soloing:

 

loose rock, loosened rock from above

 

THE FEAR

 

Getting off-route (unlikely)

 

Dynamic moves are risky, as is any move with less that 3 point of contact.

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depends on the person, the climb, the situation, but even some of the best die soloing even though they had done it forever. Dwight Bishop died unroped on a 5.8 and he had been known to solo up to 5.11 I think.

 

5.13 Bryan. Dwight told me he'd done 5.13 free solo. I do not doubt it a bit. But the 5.8 was an enchainment of the Tetons and rockfall probably knocked his noggin I suspect...not a chance in hell he'd fall on a 5.8.

 

Gotta agree with Bryan on all that stuff. But who really cares though. Once you start clicking and getting in the zone, I think that the free solo'er may be relatively safe for a highly experinced climber who knows their limits. Bachar, Croft, Potter may be safer 5-10 grades under their max on 5.11+ than a newb with a rope on 5.6 for sure. It is signifagant though that statement doesn't apply to us weekend armchair dudes though.

 

I had a friend who said they find people at JT all the time just laying dead on the ground and you never read it in the newspapers. Most likly victims of free soloing.

 

I was in the valley when Derek Hershey flew off Sentinal too. He was a wild man who had free soloed 5.11 regularly in Colorado and climbed some of the harder trad stuff around with gear, but augers in on a valley 5.9. (I think it may have been the rain in the afternoon which got him, but he should have been down by then so who can really say).

 

Point is, I don't think you can quantify it.

 

Free soloing is more dangerous. Period. Try this for a test. Go do a route roped up. Then go do the same route without a rope.

 

Come back with a report. Everytime I've ever done this, I feel that free soloing it was way more dangerous. If you don't agree with me that free soloing is more dangerous, go do an onsite of a route you've never done without the rope, then climb it with the rope and gear and share it with us all. Shit like Earl Wiggans onsite free solo 2nd ascent of Scenic Cruise, where he gets off route and puts up a new 5.10D variation, onsite, unroped free soloing, in the Black Canyon of the Friggan Gunnison, only blow my mind the more.

 

Incredible.

 

Not having the rope and gear is more dangerous. My opinion.

 

Agree with Dr Argon too.

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Well, the question isn't exactly black and white. My main partner over the years recently broke four ribs roped soloing in Devil's Lake on a route that, had he been free soloing, he would have flashed no problem. He's been soloing fairly rampantly at a consistent 5.11 onsight level for just about 30 years and what got him was climbing up and downclimbing several times through the crux to try to get in another piece. Had he been soloing it as he had the other three routes earlier that day working up to this one he would have had no problem at all. But he's getting older and knows he won't be able to free solo forever and has been focusing on roped soloing again and unfortunately got caught by a route with a low crux and less than obvious pro above it. Neither the question nor the answers are necessarily simple all the time...

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Anyone ever get savagedly pumped soloing!

 

Also what are some easy local rock classics that have never been soloed?

 

What are some stories of classic relationship breakup solos?

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How about the first ascent of Pipeline at Squamish (10d intimidating offwidth done free solo reportedly after a breakup).

 

But Fowler's is also classic and resulted in the name change to "Casual Route" after describing the route as such in an interview.

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I have to say it depends on the person. Most people that I see solo are solid vs a lot of people I see roped climbing.

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I agree completely with TimL. Roped climbers that show bad judgment or are over their heads can epic and be in great danger. Experienced solo climbers often appear to be in little danger. The standard bearers with thousands of solo pitches would be Bachar, Croft, Potter, and maybe currently Reardon. I saw Bachar this spring at Owen's Gorge free soloing up to 10d and I had the feeling there was zero chance of him falling. But these guys are very careful about what they solo as opposed to Hersey who commonly soloed much closer to his maximum roped grade. These things are just not accounted for in stats.

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What are some stories of classic relationship breakup solos?

 

I hear Snugtop had some impressive conquests...

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What are some stories of classic relationship breakup solos?

 

I remember hearing some great ones from the late Walt Shipley. One was on Mathes Crest. Something about acid and explosive diarrhoea . . .

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I don't know about break up climbs, but I have a solo get-together story.

 

Every summer I travel north to visit the folks and climb with friends.

I usually spend the first night home in L-town, visiting with friends and soloing a circut of easy routes.

The climbs were fun, but I was lonely in a way.

(note: las vegas might not be the best place to meet outdoor minded ladies)

Anyway, I was driving back from the canyon when I passed a certain river rafting company just as a really cute girl was getting out of the pool.

I took a good long look as I passed, and right then I decided that rock climbing was about the stupidest thing in the world.

What was I doing?... why was I wasting my time wanking about on some stupid rock?...climbing sucks!

The image stuck with me until the next summer.

I went back to L-town, where I managed to meet that very same girl... and she was a climber!

We were married a year later.

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Strange experiences you have. Usually when I solo there's bikini mommas waiting at the top to congratulate me and offer me cold beer.

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