We have sad news to close out the week, as it was revealed yesterday that free soloist Brad Gobright has fallen to his death while climbing in Mexico. The accident occurred on Wednesday, while Gobright and another climber by the name of Aidan Jacobson were descending El Potrero Chico. The duo were roped in with one another when the fall occurred, with Gobright falling 183 meters (600 ft). Jacobson also fell, but not quite so far, and has survived the incident. Gobright was 31 years old at the time of the accident.
Outside Online has the full details of the story, which began on Tuesday with Gobright climbing with a friend named Julie Anne Baxter on a route known a thousand-foot route known is Space Boyz. According to Baxter, that climb went very well, with Gobright at the top of his game. Later, Brad would put out a request on social media to see if anyone wanted to join him on an attempt on El Sendero Luminoso, a 2500-foot, 15-pitch climb that is rated as a 5.12d. Jacobson would answer that request and the two would begin their first climb together Wednesday morning.
After completing the ascent, the two men began rappelling down the side of the rock face. They were using a technique called simul-rappelling to save time and get down more quickly, with each climber acting as a counterweight to one another. A problem occurred during that descent however, with the rope getting stuck at one point, with one end tangled in a bush to the side. According to Jacobson, Gobright indicated that he could fix the rope as they went down, but as they continued along, looking to reach a ledge that was about 10 meters away, the rope suddenly gave way. Both men fell towards the ledge, which Jacobson landed on, but Gobright hit and then bounced over the side, plummeting the rest of the way to the ground below.
Gobright has been seen as a climber’s climber, who lived the dirtbag lifestyle to its fullest. He looked for challenging climbs wherever he could find them. He also was one of the most talented free soloists around, pushing the envelope when it came to climbing without a rope. Brad was seen as an incredibly talented climber who wasn’t afraid to pus the envelope some, even stepping outside the bounds of safety. That approach allowed him, along with climbing partner Jim Reynolds, to set a new speed record for climbing The Nose in Yosemite a few years, back, going up that iconic route in 2 hours, 19 minutes, 44 seconds. This spurred on a friendly, good-natured rivalry with the likes of Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold, who would eventually go on to break that record.
As you can imagine, the outpouring of sadness and grief from the climbing community has been tremendous. At some point, there will be more of an investigation into what happened and more details are likely to emerge. For now though, we just want to send our thoughts and condolences out to Brad’s friends and family. His death is a tremendous loss.
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