Tonight I’ll be at the finals of the first US Psicobloc competition in Park City. As Chris Sharma explains in the video below, it’s likely the ticket for competition climbing to reach a mainstream audience. Psicobloc is climbing, sans rope, over water. And while it’s all fun and games for a while, once you hit 25 or so feet things start to get scary. The Park City wall tops out at 50′. It promises to be quite the spectacle and you can catch all of the action live on streaming video by clicking HERE, starting tonight at 7:00 MST.
Above is the video that started the Psicobloc craze on the island of Mallorca. Deep water soloing, as it had been called prior, had been going on for years, mainly in England’s southern coast at a place called Swanage. A somewhat scruffy cliff with a very limited climbing season kept the crowds limited. Then the Loskot vid surfaced and DWS–aka Psicobloc–became the rage pretty much anywhere steep rock exists over water. Of course walls can be built anywhere there’s water so other than the standard legal conundrums, there’s probably not much stopping psicobloc-ing from coming to a pool near you.
I have some personal history with the topic. I used to run a competition in Santa Barbara in the early 90s. Our venue was crap but we still managed to get a couple hundred competitors one year. I took the rec leaders at UCSB to campus point and had them visualize a wall at the end of Goleta pier, where climbers would fall into the ocean. They were all fired up at the idea, but not so much about the liability issues. 20 years later, it’s finally happening.
Here are some practice falls from the venue. Pretty friggin’ scary!