What is deep water soloing?


Words & Photos: Terence Vrugtman

Deep water soloing is a relatively new form of climbing where climbers make their way up a rock face situated above a deep pool/river/sea of water. Climbers go without harnesses and safety equipment and when the time comes or a grip is unreachable, they just plummet into the water below and swim to safety.

Photo by: Terence Vrugtman

On the 30th March 2014, climbers of all disciplines gathered to take part in the first Deep Water Soloing Competition, hosted by the JHB section of MCSA and South African Climbing Academy. Just north of Bronkhorstspruit, Climbers and mountaineers alike stumbled and made their way along a short hike to find this hidden heaven known as Wilgepoort Wilderness.

Let the games begin! Categorised in groups (Guys Open, Guys Working Class and Gals Open), each climber had one attempt at two routes in the opening round and the best four would square-off in the final.

As this was the first time anyone had climbed the routes, a number of first ascents were opened. A first ascent is a route that has never been successfully climbed before.

Half way through the competition, before the opening round was completed, a thunderous storm came from no-where and let loose on the mountains with heavy rains. The rock became wet and slippery resulting in the competition being called off. Everyone slowly made the great trek back to their cars while it poured for a good hour or two.

What was set to be a long day in the sun came to an abrupt end. Not much can dampen the spirit of mountaineers and so, everyone left with a smile knowing they could come back at anytime!