There are some thrilling adventurous sports around these days but very few of them are as exhilarating or as downright dangerous as the magnificently insane sounding free climbing.
The rise of this action sport is a global trend that has grown incredibly in the last few years. As well as free climbing mountains, many thrill seekers now also use the technique to undertake hugely risky urban climbs on giant buildings with little or no safety equipment.
While there is no doubting the adrenaline rush of this sport, those who have never tried it perhaps fail to understand the wonderful opportunity that it also offers to do something unique and mind-blowing. This is a sport that challenges us all to do something that quite simply no human being has ever done before.
The North Face of the Eiger is Defeated
For example, a recent climber who made the news is called Sasha DiGiulian. This 22 year old professional rock climber has just become the first ever woman to free climb the wildly dangerous Magic Mushroom route on the North Face of the Eiger. This intensely challenging climb in the Swiss Alps tests climbers to the limit and looks close to impossible to conquer. However, DiGiulian did it and said that once on the summit you feel in “your own little world”
Another person who can understand the immense pleasure of free climbing to the top of a risky route is a man called Kevin Jorgeson. At the start of 2015 he and climbing partner Tommy Caldwell become the first adventurers to successfully free climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan. This amazing feat in Yosemite National Park occurred on one of the planet’s most dangerous climbing routes.
While we reflect on Caldwell and Jorgeson’s achievement it is a good moment to also reflect on the differences between free climbing and traditional climbing. Contrary to popular belief, free climbing isn’t always done without any ropes or equipment at all. Of course, traditional climbing involves the use of ropes and gear to help in the ascent. On the other hand, free climbers such as Jorgeson, Caldwell and DiGiulian only use ropes as protection in the event of a fall while making their epic ascents.
The Urban Version of Free Climbing
In the world of urban free climbing potentially even riskier and more sensational ascents are attempted. The arrival of this sport has given adventure lovers the chance to look at the skylines of the world and wonder what tall buildings or structures they could climb. This activity is known as buildering and it is usually done without any sort of ropes or safety equipment at all.
Actually, the sport of buildering has been popular for longer than you may initially think. Indeed, as long ago as the start of the 20th century bold pioneers such as Geoffrey Winthorp Young and Harry H. Gardiner began to climb the biggest buildings they could find.
Perhaps the sport has really taken off in the last few years thanks to the ease with which urban free climbers are now able to share their feats via the likes of YouTube and Facebook. There are few people who can fail to be impressed by a risky selfie on top of a towering structure or the video of someone making a fearless and seemingly impossible urban ascent.
In this way, we can all now share in the thrill of urban free climbing. Of course, free climbers who tackle traditional routes haven’t been left behind in this trend. A good example comes from DiGiulian who quickly tweeted news of her success when she reached the top of the Eiger safely.
However, while sharing the photo or video of a climber is amazing fun, a non-climber can really only imagine the heady feeling of success that comes at the conclusion of a tough free climb like these. This sport truly appears to be one of the few areas in life where doing something unique and wonderful is still possible.
It is this prospect of defying the odds and achieving something incredible that is currently attracting more and more brave people to the sport every year. At some point, it seems possible that there will no longer be any tall mountains or buildings left completely unscaled. However, for the time being there are many opportunities to get out and start free climbing in places where no one has ever climbed before and to reach for the sky while doing something unique.
This video shows us the El Capitan climb mentioned earlier