When we first saw this we thought "What the hell is going on here?"
September 3, 2007 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Столбы (Stolby) Free soloing I climb. I've sky dived. But watching videos of people free soloing gives me vertigo. In the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, however, there is a community for whom this is their bread and butter. And now, cats.
posted by vernondalhart (27 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm somewhere between horny and thirsty for a Mountain Dew right now.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2007


great post!
posted by vronsky at 11:51 AM on September 3, 2007

I propose stolby become and adjective meaning something along the lines of "prodigiously reckless".

I'm extremely impressed. I'm going to go ride my bike stolby.
posted by phrontist at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

The what, now?
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2007

Jesus. Terrifying and awesome.
posted by gleuschk at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2007

Fascinating. Although I have to admit to being mildly annoyed at getting this American point of view, like whoa dude.

Not one interview with one of the local climbers but instead all this "they" and "them" as if we are watching a nature special on penguin behavior.
posted by vacapinta at 12:02 PM on September 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

That climb up El Cap is mindblowing. Doesn't that usually take several days to do? I saw a documentary years ago about a guy they called the French Spiderman who did free climbs up the sides of buildings. I've searched for it but never been able to find it. It was on the Learning Channel I think. That is still one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
posted by vronsky at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2007

The crowding on these rocks is beyond ridiculous. I'd never trust that number of untethered people above me.

I'm also intrigued by their (apparently kind of common) upside-down downclimb technique. I'd never think to try that, but then again if I make a mistake I'd rather break a leg than break my face.
posted by tylermoody at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2007

vronsky: David Belle?
posted by phrontist at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

Found it

Alain Robert freeclimbs the tallest buildings in the world.

(thanks phrontist, I hadn't seen that:)
posted by vronsky at 12:18 PM on September 3, 2007

check him out
posted by vronsky at 12:23 PM on September 3, 2007

Well, now I suppose I understand my friends' reactions when I'm sliding out on a cliff shoulder, upside down and barefoot, just to see what there is to see. I get vertigo with heights, and I don't know much of anything about climbing. Upside down makes me feel more secure in some situations. Doesn't strike me as daring or unusual at all.
posted by zennie at 12:40 PM on September 3, 2007

Tim O'Neill has a brief cameo in that El Cap video
posted by Flashman at 12:43 PM on September 3, 2007

...also: compared to the days or weeks it would have taken the very best climbers to climb back in the 60s (and still takes most climbers today) Dean Potter's (mostly free) soloing the Nose as if it's just a stroll in the park is an absolutely amazing achievement. He has also featured on these pages before.
posted by Flashman at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2007

oh God, feelings of vertigo, dizzy, hand sweating as I click the mouse, must get a Bounty towel. Dozens of kids free 'soloing' together, en masse???! yikes. Stolbists, whoda thunk?

Living in the Himalayas, I became friends with a local man who was a renowned mountain climber/mountaineer. He said the real mountaineers of the Kulu Valley were the local women who went up the mountains daily, with no fancy climbing equipment, to collect delicacies like wild rhubarb that grew at high altitudes in really hard to access crevices.

Mountain people often are isolated and end up drinking heavily out of boredom. How cool these kids created this amazing sport. Hate to think of the fatalities though. ouch.

Cool and interesting post vernondalhart, you might consider adding vertigo, massinsanityasfun and cold sweat as tags.

A few blocks from where I live is a staggering new skyscraper for the New York Times. It's potentially an ideal parkour climbing spot with cage-like gridwork around the building. Now I know his name I've wondered if any day now this Alain Robert guy might pull a spiderman stunt here.
posted by nickyskye at 12:56 PM on September 3, 2007

The Potter El Cap solo of the Nose is from several years back and it took around 4-5 hours at that time IIRC (the video is just a staged photo op run and not a time trial). The last speed record I'm aware of 2 hours 48 min for a two-man team, though it may have been surpassed this season. Ordinary mortals may take up to or more than a week, if they succeed at all.
posted by Manjusri at 1:21 PM on September 3, 2007

I may have nightmares about that guy crawling down the slope towards a steep drop. Nice post!

Incidentally, Столбы (stolby) is stressed on the last syllable in Russian (stahl-BEE); it's just the plural of столб (stolb, pronounced stolp) 'pillar, column.' (Here are some Google images, so you can see what Russians think of when they think of a столб.)
posted by languagehat at 1:22 PM on September 3, 2007

can anyone name the tune in the first video?
posted by takeyourmedicine at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2007

I have free-soloed exactly ONE climb. Enchanted Rock in Texas has the greatness that is Cave Crack [not my pic].

It is 5.6, and there is a shelf of granite behind you. So when you startup with the sewing machine leg, you just lean back, and tada you are safe.

It scared me completely crapless.

Great post.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 2:05 PM on September 3, 2007

"Pride goes before the fall"

How many people are so good at walking that they NEVER trip?
posted by dibblda at 2:50 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

"How many people are so good at walking that they NEVER trip?"

How many people can get up after tripping off of a mountain?
posted by takeyourmedicine at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2007

I thought it was Florine and Hirayama who had the fastest ascent of the Nose?
posted by gen at 4:28 PM on September 3, 2007

"oh God, feelings of vertigo, dizzy, hand sweating as I click the mouse'

Is it vertigo or did you watch that David Belle video? I know you love those parkour hunks;)
posted by vronsky at 9:30 PM on September 3, 2007

Metafilter: Teh Intarwebs, stolby.
posted by CitizenD at 9:40 PM on September 3, 2007


My point exactly, I watched one of these kids fall off a cliff in Joshua Tree a few years ago. He was climbing in a very crowded area and luckily he didn't hit anyone on the way down.

Sadly, he made a lot of noise so we all had the experience of watching someone repeatably bouncing of the rock face from 150 feet up. (I'd have rather not turned and looked but I couldn't really help it)
posted by dibblda at 11:08 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

The fellow dibblda is talking about did get up, or at least try to. Unfortunately he had landed on a ledge, so his movements resulted in him falling the rest of the way to the bottom. Fortunately he survived his injuries, and I hear he is climbing again.
posted by Manjusri at 1:33 AM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

The first YouTube video longer than 10s I ever watched till the end!
posted by rom1 at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2007

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