Watching a man scale a 1,000-foot cliff without ropes, you have to imagine he’s probably way more relaxed than the average viewer sitting there with sweaty palms and a bag of popcorn.
It’s true that to defy the common logic of self-preservation and scale a vertical surface that would certainly lead to sudden death if a mistake were made must require some level of super hero fear suppression.
Leo Houlding, aged 35 from the UK, became the first climber to free solo the 350 meter Pillar of Wisdom in Jordan. Although he intended to solo the entire route completely without ropes, he ended up using some safety belaying to get around especially sketchy parts with loose rock.
“Even with ropes, it can be dangerous,” Houlding said in the video by Barcroft Television made in conjunction with Playstation, which sponsored the climb to promote its new game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
The video game maker challenged extreme athletes to come up with an uncharted adventure for the series Conquer the Uncharted to coincide with the game’s release.
In the video Houlding talks about the consequences of making a mistake and what it takes to accomplish such a death-defying feat.
“World records can always be broken, but firsts can never be taken away,” he said.
He called free soloing the ultimate extreme sport.
“There’s no way you are going to survive once you’re more than 25 meters up the route,” he said. “You’ve got to be extremely cautious, in the proper head space, physically fit and extremely diligent you don’t make any mistakes. You try not to think about the mortal risks.”
At one point, at about 300 meters he marveled at how exposed the section was, admitting it was a bit scary.
“Right now if anything goes wrong I’m going to die,” he said.
Fortunately he made it to the top, which he describes as a strange feeling of deep spiritual accomplishment.
“The view is epic,” he said.