The Legends of Free Solo
The only thing a mom hates more than the idea of her kid becoming a dirtbag, is her kid becoming a free soloer. Maybe a free soloing dirtbag is the worst. While some people consider climbing with no ropes an amazing achievement, others consider it a death wish. No matter what your view is, there are six folks that you need to watch in action, after which, you may or may not be inspired to pursue a career in free soloing. You will definitely have sweaty palms.
Alex was born in Sacramento, California and started climbing mountains at the young age of 11 years old. He dropped out of college and decided to make climbing the central focus in his life. Currently, Alex lives in a van and spends less than $1,000 a month. His dirtbag lifestyle allows him the freedom to follow the weather so that he can climb mountains year round. His favorite peak is Yosemite and he reads many, many books. He holds a number of speed records for peaks in the California area, which is remarkable because combining speed and no ropes can often be a deadly combination (but nothing compared to Dan Osman).
A Japanese-American climber with a strong taste for extreme adventure, Dan Osman was an avid climber who rarely used ropes. He was also a dirtbag, of the Bohemian variety, spending most of his life in Lake Tahoe, California. Osman was involved in a number of other extreme sport, one of which would lead to his demise; rope-jumping – the sport of free-falling from high cliffs and being caught with a rope. In 1993, he was killed during a rope-jumping accident in Yosemite National Park.
Osman leaves a legacy behind him as he was the star of a number of sport films from climbing to BMX riding. His sudden death was a shock to his cult following.
This Austrian man is slowly making a name for himself in the world of free solo climbing. He’s sent a large number of peaks in his native land, but he’s also known around the world for base-jumping and mostly, slack-lining (video is slacking vs. climbing). Michael holds a large number of world records for slackline length, height and different locations. From slacklines across lakes, to hundreds of feet high between skyscrapers, it appears that Michael has no fear when it comes to heights. He’s traveled the world with climbing, base-jumping and slacklining in a variety of exotic locations. While he’s only been climbing professionally for 8 years, his skills seem to be developing at an astounding rate as he continues to impress the mountain adventure world with his out of this world accomplishments.
Dean is another American climber well known for his free solo mountain climbing. He has climbed a number of peaks in Yosemite with no ropes, but he is most famous for his several new routes and solo attempts in Patagonia. For his achievements he was rewarded a sponsorship from the Patagonia Apparel company, however a decision to climb the Delicate Arch in Utah’s National Arches Park resulted in a loss of this sponsorship.
Ueli is a Swiss climber who started at the ripe age of 17 years old. He first started making a name for himself in the climbing world only a year after he started, by climbing the north face of the Eiger and two other difficult peaks in his native country. He won the coveted Piolet d’Or, a French mountaineering award, for the first free solo climb of Tengkampoche’s north face in Nepal, with no ropes!
Steph is considered to be the only women on earth to have free-solo climbed at the highest possible grade. Along with her pursuits for basejumping and flying with a wingsuit, she’s broken records climbing with no ropes in both Yosemite and Patagonia. She’s been an inspiration in the movement for female climbers – some of whom can outperform men climbers any day of the week.