5 Most Dangerous Contests

Free Soloing

Imagine finding yourself hanging from a sheer rock wall so high above the ground that people below look like little more than a speck. And, oh yeah, the only things holding you in place on that mountainside are your own hands and feet. No gear, no ropes, just you and the rock. There isn't a more dangerous form of climbing than free soloing.

Free soloing is a contest between the climber, the elements and the climber's own fear. A misstep or a moment of panic can end it all -- and frequently does. In 1981, legendary free-soloer John Bachar issued a challenge from Yosemite. He would pay $10,000 to anyone who could do what he did for a day. No one took him up on the contest. In 2009, Bachar would die during a fall in Mammoth Lakes. He was 52 [source: Thomas].

Related Articles


  • CBS/AP. "Ten Fired After Radio Contest Tragedy." July 8, 2009. (Dec. 30, 2011) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-2365259.html
  • Cochrane, Kira. "Take a Deep Breath." The Guardian. April 21, 2009. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/22/sara-cambell-free-diving-champion
  • Intelligence2. "The Dangers of Free Solo Climbing." (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.intelligencesquared.com/talks/the-dangers-of-free-solo-climbing
  • Kennon, Tammy. "Free divers are Testing the Bounds of Human Endurance." New York Times. April 16, 2011. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/sports/17dive.html?pagewanted=all
  • Nipps, Emily and Terry Tomalin. "Deadly Risks Lurk Behind the Thrill of Free Diving." Tampa Bay Times. (Jan. 3, 2011) http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/deadly-risks-lurk-behind-the-thrill-of-free-diving/1042851
  • Thomas, Pete. "John Bachar Dies at 52." Los Angeles Times. July 8, 2009. (Jan. 8, 2012) http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-john-bachar8-2009jul08,0,7890954.story
  • Vallis, Mary. "Photos: Danger of Sauna Contest Catches Up With Russian in Finland." National Post. Aug. 8, 2010. (Jan. 5, 2012) http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/08/08/photos-danger-of-sauna-competition-catches-up-with-russian-wrestler-in-finland/
  • World News Inc. "Dinka Fat Men of Sudan." (Jan. 9, 2012) http://wn.com/Dinka_fat_men_of_Sudan
  • World Photography Organisation. "Fat Man Competition." May 2010. (Dec. 30, 2011) http://www.worldphoto.org/images/image/89483/?FromImageGalleryID=5867


The Sarco Suicide Pod: Controversial or Compassionate?

The Sarco Suicide Pod: Controversial or Compassionate?

Imagine the suicide booth on 'Futurama,' only real. Learn more about the Sarco suicide pod at HowStuffWorks.