Outdoors Magazine

Fringe Elements: Free Soloing With A Net

Posted on the 11 April 2011 by Kungfujedi @Kungfujedi
Fringe Elements: Free Soloing With A Net
Last week I posted about a new set of videos from National Geographic Adventure called Fringe Elements which exhibit the adventure lifestyle by spotlighting some very cool outdoor activities. The videos covered everything from trail running and snowboarding to mountaineering and paddling, with the early entrants into the series showing tons of promise for what is to come.
One of the videos features rock climber Matt Maddaloni free soloing some rock climbing routes, which can be a challenging and dangerous activity. In fact, the text that accompanies the video asks whether free soloing "epitomizes the climbing spirit" or is instead "the reckless, selfish endeavor of adrenaline junkies?" Climbers who choose to free solo work without ropes, which leaves them little room for error, and when they fall, there is nothing to catch them, sometimes resulting in severe injuries or even death.
Maddaloni came up with a solution for this by building a net that he can set-up beneath him while he climbs. It gives him the freedom of climbing unfettered but the security of having the equivalent of a rope in case he does fall. It seems like a great safety solution, albeit one that won't work in all situations. Check out the video here to see in action.
You can also read Matt's thoughts on deep water soloing by clicking here. This is rock climbing that is done over a large, preferably deep, pool of water, which serves as the climbers "net" should they fall. It has become more popular amongst some free solo climbers as well.
So what are your thoughts on the subject? Is free soloing a selfish pursuit or something that should be admired? Personally, I think climbers should be allowed to pursue what ever climbing techniques they like, but to not use safety equipment just seems like you're asking for trouble.

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