The 10 secrets of Deep Water climbing
Minimal equipment, sun, sea and pure adrenaline: this is deep water solo, a discipline as simple as it is fascinating.
All you need to start deep-water climbing is a pair of shoes, a swimming costume and a comfortable rock where you can relax in the sun after climbing. A comfortable rock or, even better, the deck of the sailboat where your friends are waiting for you with a nice plate of pasta and a few beers.
You got it right, on a sailing boat. In fact, thanks to Windart it will be possible to practice Deep Water Solo for a week on board a fantastic sailing flotilla, in June or in September.
Here are ten tips for making the most of your rock climbing on a sailing boat
1. Few rules: either climb or swim. Go for it and don’t look down!
There is no such thing as a “worked” shot, when you find yourself at the end of your rope you can’t yell “block” at your partner who is belaying you. All you can do is to let yourself fall with a nice dive into the sea. It sounds easy to say, but to find yourself hanging from a few metres high knowing that if you are unable to hold a hold you will have no choice but to jump, is not a completely relaxed psychological situation (it is not for nothing that deep water solo is also known as Psychobloc). And if you get tired, you can always go back to your boat to watch the exploits of your fellow travellers and admire the sunset.
The advice for not wasting unnecessary energy and just focusing on the climb is as simple as it is fundamental. Let’s start with the basics: don’t look down! The height distracts you, the emptiness under your feet turns into a thousand doubts. None of the things you think about when you look down will help you keep your balance on those overhanging walls. Just look at the rock in front of you, concentrate on the individual movements, and in no time you’ll be at the top of the cliff!
2. But then… look down!
The first piece of advice only applies while you’re climbing. Unless the line you’re climbing takes you right up to the top of the cliff, you might have to dive at the end of the block, or you might decide to take a big dive on that passage you can’t get over: no big deal, it’s part of the fun!
That’s when it’s time to look down! Quickly study the trajectory you’ll take when you launch, measure the distance between you and the water on the fly, relax, release your grip and prepare for the splash.
3. It’s only a matter of time before you go from cannonball to pike jump, as long as you don’t fall on your stomach. Proceed gradually!
Familiarise yourself with the vacuum by taking some time to learn how to “fall”. Start by letting go from a height that you feel perfectly comfortable with and gradually work your way up. In psychobloc, more than in other forms of climbing, falling is part of the discipline; hitting the water with the wrong part of your body can be unpleasant. In time you will learn to fall comfortably in a spontaneous way, twisting on yourself like a cat that always lands on its feet. You will discover that diving is as much fun as climbing, the important thing is to start from heights you can handle.
And if cliff diving isn’t enough, you can always practice diving from the bow of the boat. Ask the skipper for advice and try your hand at cliff diving, somersaulting and bombing. If that’s not enough, you can also try your hand at rope diving, which is great fun when you’re sailing.
4. No “resting”, you rest one hand at a time.
Okay, we get it, you can’t ask your partner to block you when you need a break. But then what do you do when you just can’t take it anymore? Jumping off is not the only solution: the secret is never to find yourself at the limit and to try to regain your strength during the climb whenever you find a comfortable hold..
Before you start climbing, study the line, imagine the movements you will make and try to identify the points where climbing seems easier. When you reach them, make the most of them by resting one arm at a time. Take advantage of the breaks to relax your muscles and study your next moves and I guarantee that you will start climbing again more powerfully than before!
5. The sea is wet, if you end up in it, so will your shoes.
Magnesio and wet shoes don’t help you climb any better, but hey, it’s summer! A few minutes in the sun will be enough to dry everything out. It’s best to always try to climb with dry shoes for optimum performance, but if you really don’t want to wait that long, the important thing is to keep the soles dry so you don’t risk slipping. (If you can, at least for the first few days when you will be falling frequently, use a pair of shoes that are old or that you don’t fear ruining).
6. Does magnesium also get wet? Not with the right equipment: the waterproof magnesium holder.
Magnesite is essential to give you a good grip on holds, especially at the seaside where the rock is often wet. Carry it with you at all times and to avoid the risk of getting it wet, get a waterproof magnesium bag. There are models on the market specifically for deep water just to avoid turning the magnesium into mush with every dive.
7. Don’t underestimate the risks. Study the environment well or get an experienced guide to accompany you.
Deepwater soloing is a sport that presents no particular risks in optimal conditions, but what happens when the weather changes and the sea swells? Diving into the high waves near a reef is nowhere near as safe and relaxing as dropping into clear water. Before venturing among the rocks, make sure you are familiar with the shape of the cliffs, especially below the water level: sometimes the most insidious cliffs become impossible to see when the waves rise. If you are unfamiliar with the terrain, climate and tides of the area, it is useful to be accompanied by someone who is more practised, for which we are Sailnext!
In any case, never lose sight of the horizon: grey sky = time to leave the rocks and go for a snack.
8. Drink up! (Not only beer!)
Dehydration is a real risk when you spend many hours in the sun doing intense sport, the problem is that you don’t realise it until it’s too late.
If you don’t want to end up in the evening with a bursting head and burning lips, remember to drink regularly throughout the day and before and after climbing. If you’re planning to spend several days in a row doing deep water soloing, it’s a good idea to supplement with minerals too. A well-hydrated, fit physique will allow you to enjoy not only the climbing but also all the beers you’ll be celebrating with at the end of the day.
9. You climb alone, but you climb in company.
Although deep water soloing is an individual sport, this type of activity – like bouldering – has established itself among climbers as a collective practice. Of course, unlike bouldering where the presence of companions to protect you is almost essential, in deep water the sea takes care of cushioning the landing. However, a good crew at the edge of the cliff is not only useful for this: sharing the experience is a fundamental aspect of this sport..
When you’re not climbing, watch your teammates, encourage them, follow their progress, learn from them and reciprocate by giving advice every time you discover a new way of closing a block. You’ll make lots of new friends and you’ll discover that, although you climb alone, it’s together that you improve!
10. Relax and enjoy the sailing experience
Stimulate your mind, control your fear, focus on all the positive things around you. Many times we get stuck in performance anxiety or fear of failure, don’t let a failure ruin your day. Banish these thoughts by focusing on the fact that you’re at sea, in great company, on a fantastic sailboat, surrounded by crystal clear bays and cliffs overlooking breathtaking views; after climbing you’ll probably be watching the sun set over the waves and tomorrow you’ll set sail for even more exciting challenges..
And once the climbing is over, enjoy relaxing aboard the boat, expressing yourself in culinary challenges and speed races with your fellow travellers.
You’re just playing with friends at climbing rocks in the most wonderful of places – enjoy!
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