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Quebec Climber, 18, Critically Injured from Free Solo Fall

An 18-year-old is in critical condition after a free solo fall while climbing at Saint-Côme on Sunday afternoon. The Sûreté du Québec (Quebec’s police force) reported that they were called shortly after 3 p.m. to Lac Clair, a crag with a number of short trad routes from 5.6 to 5.12.

The climber fell about 10 metres said sergeant Béatrice Dorsainville, a spokeswoman for the Sûreté du Québec. The 18-year-old climber was with three friends who worked to keep him alive until paramedics arrived. The young climber was resuscitated, but sustained serious injuries including severe head trauma. Free-soloing is no joke and many climbers have died while doing it.

This accident occurred four months to the day that the film Free Solo won an Oscar for best documentary. Of course, climbers have been free soloing in Canada for decades, long before the film Free Solo was released.

In an article by by Will Taylor in The Inertia, he said, “It also begs the question: will the fact that the most famous movie ever about rock climbing without a rope or gear lead to more free solo deaths? I don’t think so. Even though there will surely be an influx of more climbers into the sport (as there already has been for the past decade), free soloing is such a niche of a niche—and Honnold’s El Cap solo is so groundbreaking—that this particular strain of climbing will stay a playground of the sport’s elite.

“… While the intrusion of Free Solo on Hollywood’s shores is certain to leave a high water mark for climbing and maybe change the sport’s participation numbers forever, the movie winning an Oscar isn’t going to send a crop of new free soloists into the world. Honnold’s pioneering feat stands alone, on its own, as one of the greatest climbing accomplishments of our time.”

Free Soloing is far more dangerous than climbing with ropes and a partner. Many climbers have died free soloing, including some of the world’s best. Every year in North America, climbers take to the walls without a rope and every year, a number of them suffer serious or deadly accidents.

As Gripped editor Brandon Pullan recently told CBC, “Free soloing should be left to the people with a lot of experience in climbing.” Climb safe this year.