Photo: Edward Hamer – Gritstone soloing in the Peak District
Solo climbing is a form of climbing where the person climbs alone on the wall and doesn’t require a second person to hold their ropes. There are a few different ways of climbing solo.
The first is free solo climbing or soloing, which is the most pure and free form of climbing as it doesn’t require any equipment apart from your rock boots and a chalk bag. That said; it is also the most dangerous as there is no room for error and must never be taken lightly, no matter what grade you’re climbing.
Solo climbing is when the climber ascends a route with no ropes or protection placed and so doesn’t require a belayer at the bottom.
Edward Hamer hard grit soloing
Roped soloing is when the climber ascends a route alone but with a rope back up in case of a fall. By using a self-locking device, the climber anchors their rope beneath the route with the rest of the rope coiled in a bag on the climbers back and then climbs up, placing protection while clipping the rope into it. Having reached the top of the climb the climber then fixes their end to an anchors and abseils down to retrieve the gear and then jumars back up. This process is usually carried out on bigger walls where aid climbing techniques are used, such as in Yosemite.
The last form is deep water soloing, which is climbing solo up a cliff above deep water (usually the sea) so that if the climber falls off they only have deep water to fall into. It can be one of the most exhilarating forms of climbing as it requires virtually no equipment apart from a few pairs of rocks boots, chalks bags and a load of extra chalk! Depth of water, tides and sea conditions must always be taken into careful consideration. Some of the most exotic places have produced some world class deep water solo venues such as Mallorca, Croatia and Thailand where the sun is shining all year round and the sea is warm. The UK is surprisingly one of the best places to deep water solo with hundreds of routes to cater for all grades, just don’t expect bath water when you inevitably fall in!
Deep Water Soloing at Swanage
Photo: Catalina De Maio – Deep water soloing in Portland