Deep water soloing, also known as “psicobloc,” is a form of rock climbing on sea cliffs at high tides. It has also been performed at reservoirs and rivers as the water is the protection against injury from falls on the high difficulty routes. DWS is considered one of the purest styles of climbing. Deep water soloing has been growing in popularity as many are exploring new destinations and discovering many unclimbed lines.
Back in 1978, Miguel Riera, the father of Psicobloc in Spain, went to Porto Pi, Palma with his friends to find routes they could free climb after he became frustrated with the aid climbing routes in his local area. It became Majorca’s first bouldering venue. Riera eventually progressed to short sea cliffs, and this is where “Psicobloc” came to be. Psicobloc translated to English is “psycho bouldering.” Riera put up many routes over the years, and these days Majorca is a very popular place to climb.
Some of the most popular places to go deep water soloing include Dorset and Devon in England, the Calanques near Marseilles, Pembrokeshire in Wales, Thailand, Majorca, Spain and Greece. Most deep water soloing in the USA takes place in the nation’s lakes such as Summersville Lake in West Virginia and Lake Travis in Texas. It’s not as prominent in the US because there are so few seaside cliffs that offer the right combination of a good landing and great climbing.
Deep water soloing requires minimal gear; climbing shoes and a chalk bag. There really isn’t a specific climbing shoe geared towards deep water soloing, but an unlined synthetic upper or simple lace-up will dry quicker than a leather shoe. It will also maintain shape and structure while leather will stretch out, breakdown and dehydrate when repeatedly exposed to water. Also be aware of the adhesive bond between the upper material and the rubber sole as it can delaminate after repetitive dunking in salty ocean water. A lightweight mesh chalk bag is a good way to go if you’re going to take a chalk bag. Fill your chalk bag with just enough loose chalk for a single climb. Liquid chalk is a good alternative if you don’t want to deal with a chalk bag.
Just as with any climbing, deep water soloing comes with its risks. You’re not only dealing with the absence of a rope and the heights on some of the cliffs, of course, can be intimidating, but you’re also dealing with potential injury when falling into the water. Be smart about it and always remember you can never be too safe.
For more information on deep water soloing, read the article “How to Get High and Stay Dry While Deep Water Soloing” by Abby Smith and visit the Web site Deep Water Solo World.