An extreme variation to rock climbing, deep water soloing is practiced on perpendicular cliffs or cliffs leaning out to the sea, with the sea being the only protection if you fall off. It is a form of solo rock climbing that relies solely upon the presence of water at the base of a climb to protect against injury. It is occasionally known as water bouldering.
Although this is viewed as a relatively new style of climbing, it probably originated in the late 1960s or early 1970s in Dorset, Southern England or Marjorca. Real development of the style began in the mid-late 1990s, and is progressing to this day.
Since deep water soloing entails higher risk than regular rock climbing, there are certain rules one must keep in mind.
- One: stick to a safe route, which means the water below must be at least five metres deep, and
- Two: all adrenaline addicts must be aware of their physical strength and never try to exceed those limits. The higher you go, the harder you fall!
The average climber uses ropes, harness, quick draw and belay devices for safety, but the deep water soloists shun these ‘extras’ preferring the extra adrenaline charge they get when climbing.
As a result, in places like Thailand, budget travellers have taken a fancy to this extreme sport because it fits their low-cost lifestyle. Pinyo Changrua, vice-chairman of Railey Rock Climbing Club, disclosed that the activity was introduced to Krabi about five years ago by foreign tourists and it has increased in popularity ever since. “You don’t have to invest, taking climbing lesson or renting equipment. All you need is a pair of appropriate shoes and lots of courage,” he said.
Thanks to padlarka for this video:
This type of climbing is typically practiced on sea cliffs at high tide, most famously on the coasts of Dorset and Devon, but also in the Calanques near Marseille, around the Southern Pembrokeshire coast, parts of Ireland, Sardinia, Majorca, Spain, Greece, Thailand and many other climbing areas.
As Mike Robertson, a DWS himself, “I’ll stick my neck out here: DWS came to be because it’s the purest form of climbing. Let me clarify this: I mean climbing as in fingertips-on-rock, as in aesthetics of movement, as in unencumbered, as in FREE. You won’t get the same feeling from dragging a full rack and two ropes up a classic trad pitch, and you won’t find the same experience on a hard sport route, with a harness and rope always to hand. So we do it because it’s fun, it’s simple, and it’s unencumbered.”