British climber Leo Goulding has become the first person to solo climb the 350m-high Pillar of Wisdom in Jordan – most of it without the use of safety ropes.
The giant sandstone tower in Wadi Rum, is some 50m higher than the Eiffel Tower, and is a notoriously challenging climb. Leo’s original plan was to scale the immense cliff face without ropes, but the crumbling sandstone rock made that too dangerous.
As you’ll see from the video, Leo, 35, from Cumbria, still climbed most of the way without ropes, just relying on his finger and toe holds to save him from a fall and certain death.
‘I free soloed most of the route, but I used a rope on a few sections where the rock was really loose or really hard. Being up on a face like that, so big and so remote, so exposed, alone, not tied into the cliff, it’s a really powerful feeling.’
The higher Leo climbed, the harder the climb became. ‘Pulling over the top, bearing in mind the last section is the very hardest section, was extremely scary, and then there’s a perfectly flat top and the view from the top is epic,’ he says.
What made Leo want to make such a dangerous and challenging climb? ‘The spirit of adventure has just been innate within me since I was born, even when I was really little I was always the kid that would climb the highest in the trees.
‘In this day and age very few people get to go to places where no one’s ever been before. I mean, deep-sea divers, cavers and climbers – we’re the only people that get to go into truly Uncharted territory.’