When summertime highs hit the triple digits in Texas, it’s time to swap out carabineers and ropes for board shorts and SUPs, ditch local climbing spots for deep-water soloing above deep, cool water.
To soak up the last months of summer, we went along with Branndon Bargo and Daniel Ezel, adventure consultants from Texas (which hardly sounds like a job at all), on one of their many visits to Lake Travis – a popular deep-water soloing zone.
Deep-water soloing has been a popular trend among climbers for quite some time. While most envision international hotspots off the coasts of Thailand or Spain, Lake Travis, just 30 miles north of Austin, offers a variety of climbing closer to home. In the hot sun, falling is refreshing… when the tide is high enough.
Due to the drought, water levels had been too low to safely climb since 2010, but thanks to a rainy spring, hoards of climbers made their way to the watering hole this summer to give it a go.
“Quality of rock next to deep water is hard to come by,” said Branndon. “A lot of the rock is pretty crumbly near the water, making it difficult and unsafe for climbers.”
One of the best parts of deep-water soloing is that it requires no equipment, just some board shorts and shoes if you need, but it’s nice to have some SUPs on hand; swimming isn’t always fun when you’re pumped out.
“There is no set path,” says Daniel. “Ultimately you look at the wall, find a line you like, and think, ‘I’d like to try and climb that.’ You don’t have to worry about how hard it is. You just try it. If you fall, you fall into the water and try again.”
For anyone looking to get into deep-water soloing, here’s a few helpful guidelines to follow:
Branndon Bargo is an adventurer, explorer and documentary filmmaker. He runs Live Adventure, an outdoor adventure business based in Austin, TX. Branndon has travelled to 40 countries, and led over 25 expeditions globally. He specializes in physically difficult, culturally complicated, and mentally taxing expeditions.
Daniel Ezell is the Coordinator for Outdoor Adventure at Baylor University. When not on his own outings, his time is spent teaching outdoor skills and planning trips across the country that others can participate in to get their own taste for adventure.