Seaside cliff jumping and deep water solo climbing (DWS) can be fun activities but there are a few things you should consider before jumping into these sports. So let's dive in.
Yes it looks joyful and splashy but you have to remember that climbing and related sports are considered extreme sports. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy it but make sure you know what you're doing.
If you only want to jump into the sea then you must have these checked:
- Make sure you can swim. If you're a poor swimmer you'll struggle to get out, especially if the waves are big. If you can't swim, only enter in still waters wearing a swimming vest - under the close supervision of friends who can swim. Of course you won't be able to jump while wearing the vest but if you insist, do it from a height of two meters (six feet) above the sea or less. Being buoyant (with the vest on) you won't sink deep enough and you may even rip the vest (not to mention the impact shock your body will receive).
- Is the water deep enough for a high jump? You don't wanna hit the rocks on the seabed so check the jumping spots before you leap. Don't take chances as this may lead to fatal injuries (broken spine, broken legs, etc). A depth of at least four meters (12 feet) is required for 10 meters (30 feet) jumps. At 8'20" in the video above you can see an injury case which proved to be trivial (minor scratches) but being too cautious is never wrong!
- Wear climbing shoes - even if you don't want to climb high cliffs. Wearing shoes has two benefits: you won't splash your feet against the water and you won't cut your sole while climbing out. The limestone rocks are razor sharp below the water line - you won't regret having your feet protected.
- Can you maintain vertical balance while airborne? Well...when I jumped from that tower I leaned forward and hit my chest against the water so badly that it took me approximately 10 seconds to recover my breath and to be able to speak (I was basically speechless...). Chris Sharma says in one video (King Lines - scene with limestone arch route Es Pontas) that he heard of people "breaking ribs, collapsing their lungs" - oh yeah, that's definitely possible! Start with small jumps and go for the big air gradually! It's all about maintaining a good vertical balance in midair and tucking your limbs close to your body just before breaking the water surface (apparently I lost the mastery of this...).
- Is there an easy way out? If you can't climb too well then you should make sure there's a safe exit out of the sea, like a bay with still water and a stairway-like rock feature. Don't force your friends to save you. We had to do this once and it wasn't fun.
- Where's the chalk? 1.Climb without chalk - it works. 2.Carry a dozen of chalk bags (just like Sharma does when he shoots his videos). You will wet one on each time you fall. 3.Apply liquid chalk on your hands and shoulders - when your palm gets sweaty just rub it on your opposite shoulder. This is a neat solution that doesn't imply sacrificing your chalk bag.
- Beware of big waves and tight overhanging corners. If you wanna climb that overhang that starts just above the water surface wait for a day when the sea is calm. Don't push it or else...
- Loose rocks or thin horizontal holds (slates) may lead to unexpected falls. Choose your climbing route wisely.
- As a nomad (sleeping in tent or in caves and eating from your backpack) you will need lots of drinking water. I'm still not sure how the villagers get their water - it may be from deep drilled wells. The limestone shore is flat and approximately 20 meters high above the sea so you won't find any fresh water springs.
- Bring your snorkeling gear or at least a pair of swimming goggles. You won't regret it. Where there are rocks there's sea-life: crabs, fish, plants, cormorants, dolphins, etc. Actually the place is awesome for scuba diving and underwater caving. There's an entire colony of cormorants in a cave that goes more than 30 meters deep under the limestone shoreline.
- Fishing is another popular activity - either with a rod or with a spear/harpoon while diving (I've seen divers doing this).
- Photography and film-making - bring your photo and video gadgets coz there's a lot to shoot. I improvised a wrist mount for the GoPro HD camera out of the head strap - I rolled the elastic straps a few times around my wrist and held the plastic square on which the camera was mounted. When I had to come out of the water (climb on cliffs), I slid the strap on my arm just after the elbow joint as to have the camera protected.
Es Pontas - Deep Water Solo Climbing Teaser - Chris Sharma
Es Pontas - Full Climb
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