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Is Deep-Water Soloing the Next Big Thing in Climbing?

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Mallorca, with its laid-back island vibes, is home to some of the world’s best deep-water soloing spots. According to Sharma, it’s a veritable DWS laboratory—for those mad enough.

Now Sharma is preparing to take his DWS love affair mainstream. Teaming up with longtime friend and Justice League star Jason Momoa (a capable climber himself), Sharma is co-creator of The Climb, a competition-format show debuting on HBO next year which will likely feature a deep-water solo segment in Mallorca, one of the filming sites.

Shining a light on “relatively safe” DWS, Sharma thinks, could help break down the glorification of risk that films like Free Solo have conferred upon the sport in recent years. “What Alex Honnold did is incredible and deserves all its recognition,” says Sharma. “But it isn’t particularly representative of our sport.”

Rock climbing falling into water at sunset

Lose your grip and it’s not all over.
Ricardo Giancola

Then again, deep-water soloing is risky in its own right. Last fall, two American climbers drowned in Mallorca doing it. “The most dangerous part isn’t necessarily the fall, but exiting the water—especially when there are big waves and you’re tired,” says Sharma, who has bailed from as high as 80 feet.

At its best, psicobloc transcends the narrower prescriptions of modern climbing “The freedom of being over the water is unparalleled,” says Sharma. “Some of the coolest experiences I’ve had are exploring at my limit on these cliffs out here.”

Prime-Time Climb

Slated to be aired in early 2023, HBO’s The Climb—hosted by Chris Sharma and Jason Momoa—aims to do for rock climbing what The Great British Bakeoff did for scone reinterpretation. The show will feature a dozen amateur climbers vying for top-dog status on some of the world’s most challenging ascents. If recent filming in Mallorca is any indication, a likely DWS segment should factor high in the lineup.

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