‘Art of Solo’ captures Matt Bush as he free solos Paarl Mountain, one of the world’s largest granite domes in South Africa. The impressive formation is comparable to Australia’s Ayers Rock in majesty. Matt sets his sights on soloing the committing, ‘Casualties of War’ (6c+/5.11b). The route was opened in 2004 and has seen few ascents. It follows the most prominent line up the rock. Matt says, “It may only be graded 6c+/5.11b but grades are often not a true measure of difficulty for soloing. There are many other variables to factor in. I’ve soloed overhanging routes at 8a+/5.13d repeatedly but this route feels much harder. The movement style is delicate, on-balance and very technical. The margin for error is small. Sometimes the hands and feet are pressed into tiny quartzite crystals. The first crux revolves around two apposing gastons, setting the feet up high and reaching far to a good hold. It’s a dynamic move. The final crux involves a long reach off a layback with both feet smearing on marginal holds. It feels extremely exposed. These factors combine to make this a new level of solo for me. Near the top there’s a small ledge to turnaround on which is probably the highlight of the climb. When it comes to choosing a route for solo I look for something that’s challenging but the beauty of the place and the movement style are determining factors. This particular route has it all in one. It’s a dream solo.”
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