Rock climbing is a brutally simple sport. Whether you’re on a bouldering wall, a granite face, or an actual mountain, the line between success and failure is plainly clear. You have to reach the top of whatever you’re attempting to summit or you’ll fall in the process.
Gravity usually wins, which is why most everyone trekking up mountains or frozen waterfalls uses ropes and specialized equipment to stay alive. The core difficulty of climbing is inescapable, but you can mitigate the consequences and, you know, not die. Free soloing, however, is a hardcore offshoot of rock climbing where climbers defy safety and scamper up rock faces and mountains without ropes or any gear that would save them from a fall.
“It was always the obvious next step,” says Croft. “But after this, I really don’t see what’s next. This is the big classic jump.”