Wearing neither a harness nor rope, the climber stretched her arm toward the distant hold using every muscle in her body to stay connected to the overhanging wall. Gravity won, pealing her off the wall to a splash landing in a pool 30-feet below.
Shortly after, another climber reached the top of the 50-foot wall only to leap off voluntarily.
Versions of this played out repeatedly at the inaugural Psicobloc Masters Series climbing competition finals held Friday, August 2nd, at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. The event is the first deep water solo climbing competition in the United States and featured some of the best climbers in the world. It was unquestionably one of the most engaging and riveting events I’ve attended.
Deep water soloing is a form of solo climbing over a deep body of water such as the ocean, or in this case, a 50-foot wall over a 750,000-gallon freestyle pool. The Psicobloc Masters Series is the brainchild of Kevin Bradburn, President of Momentum Indoor Climbing; Mike Beck, Sports and Entertainment Attorney; and world-class climber, Chris Sharma. “It really is the most spectator-friendly form of competition climbing there is,” says Sharma. He explained that deepwater solo climbing in Mallorca inspired the format of the competition. Sponsors included prAna, Momentum Climbing, Walltopia, and other industry leading brands.
Climbers competed side-by-side on identical routes duel-style with the climber finishing the fastest, or reaching the highest, advancing to the next round. After repeated rounds, competitors showed visible signs of fatigue, pausing on the wall for brief rests.
Spectators maneuvered for the best views as climbers competed round after round. Personally, I found it hard to look away. The movements were both powerful and elegant at the same time. And then there was the suspense of not knowing when a climber would fall to the pool. Looking through my photos, I see that even in falls they maintained composure and form. I would have been screaming and flailing like a wild woman.
In the woman’s competition, Sasha DiGiulian powered up the route to victory against Delaney Miller at a pace that brought the crowd to frenzy.
On the men’s side, Jimmy Webb and Daniel Woods were well matched on the 5.14 route, making for an edge-of-the-seat finale with Webb taking the victory .
The event was clearly a huge crowd pleaser and hopefully will be the first of many to come. Here are a few more of my favorite shots: