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Ultralight Climbing
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Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Ultralight Climbing on 03/25/2008 11:56:55 MDT Print View

You'll have to check out this video:

Dean Potter climbs El Capitan in record-breaking time, alone.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Ultralight Climbing on 03/25/2008 15:08:12 MDT Print View

Gutsy, but won't surprise me if he dies early.

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Ultralight Climbing on 03/26/2008 09:59:31 MDT Print View

Yeah I'm surprised that he's still alive. But he's a great inspiration to me, keeping in mind that there's a fine line between bravery and stupidity.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Not ultralight climbing. . . on 03/26/2008 10:25:24 MDT Print View

What you have to realize is the Potter has climbed that particular rout hundreds of times. He carries a full rack, harness, and rope. Opportunities to place gear for protection is frequent and easy, especially for a climber of Potters experience and skill. If he becomes tired he places gear in the rock and hangs from it, no different from a safety standpoint than if he where leading the route and fell.

This accent of the Nose is not ultra light or nor is it a free solo. Throughout the climb Potter uses gear to accent and rest. A true free solo wouldn't use any gear. Now what Potter dose is still more dangerous than typical climbing but it’s nothing compared to a unaided free solo.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Ultralight Climbing on 03/26/2008 10:38:28 MDT Print View

Did you see the look on the other guys face when he passed him? That was classic!

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Re: Not ultralight climbing. . . on 03/26/2008 11:01:02 MDT Print View

Chad, I agree with that. vHowever, he talks about speed being safety (the monologue about how thin his rope is)... I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure it takes people days to climb this route, so he goes much lighter than normal climbers.

A true free solo would be impossible to do in this case (hence, the bolt ladder). All I can say is this: humans... they're f*ckin' nuts

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Impressive but not extraordinary . . . on 03/26/2008 12:22:47 MDT Print View

It dose take people days to typically climb it.

Nothing Potter was doing in the video is new or inventive. In fact it's pretty standard practices for climbers since the early 90's.

The comment about using skinny 8mm cord to rappel and swing with is something that has been done in the climbing world for about 10 years.

Speed being equated with safety in climbing is another principle that is has been around for ten plus years. Typically a good climber will carry just the right amount of gear without bringing extra weight that will just slow them down.

The accent shown in the video is two years old (I believe) and various other climbers (male and female) have beaten Potters time. One or more climbers have actually freed the line that Potter was on (no aid climbing) in under 12 hours. Potter dose not hold the free or aid climbing record for this particular climb.

What Potter did is impressive, but not superhuman, or ultra light. It would be like having someone like Andrew Surka (sp?) backpack 260 miles in 12 days with a 30 pound pack. Shure it's great, but to people actually involved and dedicated to the sport it's just not that impressive.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
potter video on 03/26/2008 13:08:35 MDT Print View

I think that this video is 7-8 years old, so when it was filmed, this was groundbreaking style.

As for it not being ultralight, the lack of a haulbag seems to be a substantial reduction in skin-out weight. The dudes not even packing approach shoes.

Potter has had his issues over the years, but this is still an impressive ascent, at least to a mere mortal like myself. Other super beings may see it differently

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Ultralight Climbing on 03/26/2008 13:12:54 MDT Print View

Apparently that moron is also into tearing up national landmarks.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
nameless arch solo on 03/26/2008 13:20:24 MDT Print View

That's one of those issues I mentioned. Look at it this way, most people who are incredibly dedicated to something, especially an esoteric pursuit like climbing are going to have trouble with the wider world.

most great writers and artists were notably rotten human beings. And most great climbers are not notable for their social graces and thoughtfulness off the rock.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: potter video on 03/26/2008 13:29:38 MDT Print View

"I think that this video is 7-8 years old, so when it was filmed, this was groundbreaking style."

That's just it, when it was filmed for the 'Dosage 5' climbing video it wasn't groundbreaking style, it was considered a common albeit impressive way to free solo / aid the Nose in a half day. Weird huh?

The practices of moving fast, using thing cord for rappelling, and carrying minimal gear may have only been popular in climbing since the 90’s but they had been using in alpine accents since the mind 70’s. Like I previously stated all of these techniques shown in Potters video where / are nothing new.

Also, I believe before or right around the time the video was shot the first free accent of the climb was done by Potter (not shure it was Potter). The FFA finally being completed was part of the reason Potters free solo / aid climb was included in 'Dosage 5', to basically show how much climbing has progressed on such a classic route.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Ultralight Climbing... on 03/26/2008 19:51:41 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/25/2015 20:55:18 MDT.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Dan Osman on 03/27/2008 07:25:40 MDT Print View

Without even looking at the link I'm going to guess it's about Dan Osman.

The guy did some amazing climbs with and without ropes. Then he got into a form of free fall jumping where Dan was attached to elaborately constructed anchors and then he would deliberately jump and free fall hundreds of feet. Basically while working to climb a very hard route and taking large falls on bolts (50') Dan realized he enjoyed falling more than climbing.

If you really want to know more about he man here's a link.

Keith Hultman
(helios) - F

Locale: Missouri
Potter's FFA of the Nose on 03/27/2008 07:39:52 MDT Print View


If you think Potter did the First Free Ascent of the Nose of El Capitan around the time Dosage 5 came out... you probably shouldn't be spouting off about what is or what is not groundbreaking in climbing. lol.

Dosage 5 comes out this spring. You are probably thinking of Masters of Stone V.

I'll let you figure out the FFA of the Nose on your own.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Potter's FFA of the Nose on 03/27/2008 08:37:02 MDT Print View

Sorry, I was thinking of Master of Stone V.

As far as the first free accent of the Nose I couldn't remember who did it but I remember Potter bagging the FFA of Yosemite classic around 1994. I know Lynn Hill freed the Nose in a ground up accent taking four days back in 1994 but I'm not shure if she was the FFA or not.

That and I’m just too lazy to look up who did what with who on which route at what time.

Edited by chadnsc on 03/27/2008 08:39:28 MDT.

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Ultralight Climbing on 03/27/2008 09:18:26 MDT Print View

the FFA of the Nose was Lynn Hill, in the early 90's. She did it free over a few days, then freed it in 24 hours! Some guy named Scott I think freed it, but only toproped the cruxes, then in the last few years, Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden Caldwell team freed it, then Tommy came back and freed both the Nose AND the Salathe wall in 24 hours!!

the vid of Potter soloing the Nose is insane, but not a free ascent. It is quite ultralight for being solo - compare his gear to the standard ascent of the nose - no 3 day haulbag, 3 days of food and WATER, no portaledge, no multitude of ropes, no triple set of cams - he had some gear, but for a mostly ropeless solo, that is very minimal gear - consider how he had to aid - just always keeping more than one piece in - then consider that the spots he'd be aiding would be then thin parts... it may not be the fastest of the fastest for solo on the Nose, but it is ultralight, it is not all free, and it is crazy. I can see his point on this being safer than the average ascent - no big haul bags to mess up (a big haul bag screw-up can drop it the length of the haul rope onto your anchor - yikes!), less time to get stuck in a big storm, fewer rigging mistakes to be made, very little reliance on ropes, pro, etc - in some ways it is safer, if you are that good....... for the rest of us, .....

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: Dean Solos; That's not "ultralight climbing"... on 03/27/2008 09:19:55 MDT Print View

Um. no. Dean has never and never would say he did the FFA of the Nose. Lynn did that. Oh, and she also did the first free ascent in a day of the Nose. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that Dean has ever freed the Nose. And it was several YEARS before any man managed to repeat what Lynn did...many men said it was impossible for a man to do because Lynn's fingers are so small.

Ultralight climbing? That's what folks like Kelly Cordes, Maxime Turgeon, Colin Haley and Steve House do...check out's newswire some time. For instance, for this historic link-up on Cerro Torre, I made a prototype 45L pack for Kelly that only weighed 450 grams. His total pack weight was 14 pounds, and that was with everything he'd need for up to three days. Including the climbing gear...

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Ultralight Climbing on 03/27/2008 10:22:22 MDT Print View

I find it interesting that Potter would talk about 'safety in speed'. This makes sense from the perspective of Mark Twight in Extreme Alpinism in that speed gets you on and off an alpine route faster and therefore back to safety. With routes on El Cap the naturals dangers are significantly reduced and being on the rock for days at a time doesn't pose the same kinds of risks as true alpine, i.e. avalanche, frostbite, et al. Perhaps I'm speculating wildly but it's my first impression.

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: Ultralight Climbing on 03/27/2008 10:55:08 MDT Print View

With routes on El Cap the naturals dangers are significantly reduced and being on the rock for days at a time doesn't pose the same kinds of risks as true alpine, i.e. avalanche, frostbite, et al. Perhaps I'm speculating wildly but it's my first impression.

You're speculating wildly.

Here are some interesting links for you:

Nat Geo Adventure did a story on a recent storm and the associated fatalities.

Friends of YOSAR is the support organization of YOSAR, park rangers and climbers who run the rescues in the park. While 60% of all rescues are of hikers, let's face it, a helicopter rescue like the one in the other article makes for great photography and stories...

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Ultrlight Climbing on 03/27/2008 11:14:49 MDT Print View

Remember also Jeremy's point about water. Considering the energy you're expending, and the constant sun exposure, running out of water 20 pitches off the deck could be as dangerous as other objective alpine hazards.