Rock Climbing Without Rope Or Support, One Wrong Step Could Cost This Man His Life

Apr 5, 2015

Julian Lines is a 42-year-old rock climber from Northern Ireland. He's part of an elite subset of climbers experienced enough to solo climb - i.e. without anyone to belay them on a safety rig. In fact, Julian doesn't use ropes at all. He prefers to use only his own body and some chalk dust to power his way up sheer vertical rock faces. A single mishap could lead to a potentially fatal fall.

Julian, in red, climbing up a cliff in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland.

Standing on a ledge nicknamed "Solitary Confinement" by fellow solo climbers.

It's at least a 30-foot drop to the freezing waters below.

Juilan says that life problems fade away when you're climbing and a sort of calm focus sets in, but that doesn't mean he hasn't had some close calls. He explains:


"Of course there are fears and nerves, more so now that I'm older. In fact I don't really like it anymore if I'm more than about 60 feet up. I don't worry about slipping, I worry about my arms tiring rapidly and not being able to hold on. It's all about speed and precision. Slipping is uncommon unless I'm really tired or the standard of the climb is of the utmost difficulty."

Holding on to such narrow grips with all your weight must be absolutely exhausting.

As he's gotten older, he says his "inner mortality" has started to catch up to him. 

This makes climbing harder now than in his younger days.


100 percent focused as he holds on to this jutting rock face high above the woodlands below.

At 42, Julian is still going strong.

He says the key to soloing is planning and risk assessment.

A glimpse at how soloing footage is shot.

Alastair Lee, a director who has filmed Julian before said that "Jules is very much the dark horse of British climbing and easily the most accomplished free soloist in the U.K." If you'd like to know more about Julian's climbing stories (including some of his more hair-raising close calls), check out his book "Tears of the Dawn," which won a Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature in 2014.

Credit: Daily Mail (UK)

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