MEXICO CITY • Mr Brad Gobright, an acclaimed American free solo climber, has died after falling nearly 305m while rappelling down a well-known route in Mexico with a rope, the authorities said.
Mr Gobright fell to his death last Wednesday from a rock known as El Sendero Luminoso, or the Shining Path, in the Potrero Chico national park in northern Mexico, the country’s civil defence authorities said in a statement on Thursday.
The 31-year-old Californian was hailed as one of the world’s best free solo climbers, a technique that uses no ropes.
He set a speed record in 2017 of 2hr 19min 44sec on the popular climbing route called the Nose on El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park. It has since been surpassed.
Mr Gobright was not free soloing when he fell but was rappelling using a rope with a climbing partner, Mr Aidan Jacobson, who survived the fall but sustained several injuries.
“It was basically a blur,” Mr Jacobson, 26, told Outside Magazine.
“He screamed. I screamed. I went through some vegetation, and then all I remember is seeing his blue Gramicci shirt bounce over the edge,” he said.
Practitioners of free solo climbing say it is a risky yet exhilarating experience, one that comes with a calm acceptance of death.
“The risk in free soloing is always to fall off and fall to your death,”
In a message posted on Instagram on Thursday, Mr Honnold praised Mr Gobright’s “insanely strong fingers” and said the climbing world had “lost a true light”.