Is Deep Water Soloing the greatest form of climbing? For me days spent deep water soloing are definitely up there with the best climbing days I ever have.
Spring and early summer are by far the busiest time of year for me, as this time of year is when much of the work I do is in full swing, but fortunately this year I have had some great days out climbing above the water in between work. It is these days that have inspired me to to write a few words on my current favourite genre of climbing.
So why is deep water soloing so good? In my opinion this form of climbing incorporates all of the best bit from its neighbouring disciplines, and none of the worst bits.
First of all you have the adventurous feeling that you experience whilst Trad climbing, perhaps it is the apprehension of the unknown, feeling the fear and adrenaline of being way above your protection or the great sense that you must keep climbing despite the uncertainty of a mighty fall, and all this without the faff of ropes and gear.
When you do fall you realise that DWS’ing has much in common with sport climbing. It allows you the freedom to flow with the climbing whilst pushing your physical limits to the max in relative safety, you don’t even have to stop to clip a bolt.
This form of climbing has a really close connection with the vibe that you get when bouldering with a group of like minded people. There is a hugely social element and the feeling of comradery and mutual support are the real reasons that I like DWS so much. Participants whoop and cheer with joy at any opportunity, especially when they see their friends take huge splashdowns into the sea.
Last month I had a trip down Lulworth, on arrival we were greeted by a large group of super strong climbers from all over the country. The conditions were amazing and the atmosphere was even better. The group moved from route to route ticking classics such as Animal Magnetism 7a+, Gates of Grey Skull 7b+ and Mark of the Beast 7c.
Animal Magnetism is a cool route which starts already way above the sea and climbs to the top of the wall with a brilliant sequence on cool holds. Gates of Grey skull is a spectacular route, climbing a super steep wall on good holds to a final exciting dynamic slap for the top. Mark of the Beast is as fine an example of a DWS as can be found anywhere. It climbs a super steep wall on big pumpy holds to a final move which requires precision and strength of body and mind, way above the water. In total that day Mark of the Beast was climbed 8 times with 6 of those ascents being flashed (perhaps the most ascents this route has had in one day). I finished of the day with an onsight of Skullthuggery, a super steep and 3D start to Gates of Grey Skull. Super Stuff!!
Other must visit destinations include Berry Head, Long quarry point, Swanage, Pembroke and of course Mallorca. Get out there people and enjoy the sunny weather!
One thing to bear in mind is the safety of Deep water soloing, it is a great idea to take someone experienced in this form of climbing on your first trip. Always check the tides and landing zones before you set off and practice your falling technique before you start getting high.