What Does It Take to Film Your Own Free Solo? Find Out With the Wide Boyz

Watch the Wide Boyz’s Pete Whittaker sharpen his videography skills aboard ‘Maos Gate,’ a classic two-pitch route in Tellnes, Norway.

PSA: Despite what some might think, one doesn’t simply walk up to the base of a big wall route and free solo it. Preparation breeds confidence, competence, and essential precision. The granular knowledge that bleeding-edge experts cultivate comes with heroic amounts of practice.

And that’s precisely the point that Pete Whittaker hopes to convey in “Cinematic Free Solo POV.”

As one half of the excelsior Wide Boyz team, Whittaker has amassed wisdom of rock and risk that few will ever grasp. In 2016, the mild-mannered Sheffielder rope-soloed (and freed) Yosemite’s 35-pitch Freerider route in 20 hours and 6 minutes.

He then returned to the Valley in 2018, where he smashed through a rope-solo linkup of The Nose and Half Dome in 20 hours. In late 2021, he not only free soloed a 1,000m (3,281 feet) wall — he filmed the whole thing.

In this brief cut, Whittaker shows us how he prepares for an upcoming big-wall rope solo project by training on shorter, local routes. “As this route is very easy, I free solo for efficiency to help practice some different angles and positions with the camera,” he explains.

Whittaker employs a helmet-mounted GoPro 360 to capture his ascent. By situating the rig atop his head, he can climb unencumbered — at least physically.

The real crux of filming is maintaining a viable, viewable frame. “The difficult thing with this project is […] combining the logistics of rope solo climbing a hard big wall along with the logistics of filming.”

Whittaker also used a DJI mini 2 drone (distance shots) and GoPro Hero 10 (direct-to-audience frames).

Reportedly, good ol’ Pete has more videos like this in the hopper. “I’m going to make a series of videos combining different climbing and filming techniques together, then take what I learn to the final project.”

We look forward to seeing more of what the effervescent Brit comes up with and impatiently await the pièce de résistance.

Runtime: 8 minutes

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Jilli Cluff
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Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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