In late March 2020 just before the COVID-19 quarantine, Tim Howell (@tim_howell_adventure) and Tom Newberry (@tnewberry100) set off for Tonsai, Thailand for the purpose of climbing up and flying down Humanality. This 6b+ (5.11a) 100 m (300ft) 5-pitch climb right on the beach is a route described by Arnaud Petit as one of the best multi-pitch climbs in the world.

Tom Newberry’s magnificent free solo climb and base jump were captured on film by base jump instructor, Tim Howell. Howell has been a professional climber and base jumper since his military service ended two years ago. He has completed hundreds of climbs and jumps since entering the sport in 2013.

Related Post: Climbing Destination Guide: Tonsai, Thailand

Moja Gear caught up with Tim Howell upon returning from Thailand (while in quarantine in London, trying to get home to Switzerland). He reiterated that Newberry is an excellent climber, and while he taught Newberry about base jumping, Newberry taught him about rock climbing.

Howell confirmed that Newberry’s rig was not a safety backup in case of a fall — it was only for coming down from the top.

The climb is quite three dimensional. [The jump] only works because there is a cave at the top where you can clear the route.

Tom Newberry, brand ambassador for Evolv and Metolius, reported to Moja Gear that he had climbed Humanality years ago on a trip to Tonsai, and only once the day before the free solo ascent. However, this was his first free solo wearing the base jump rig. Wearing the parachute changes the balance and feel of climbing in a way that was different from his practice climb.

The winds pick up quite high in Tonsai by 9 am, so Howell and Newberry planned the solo climb for 6:30 in the morning. Adding to the excitement of the video, Newberry added that “the only way to solo this route is to base jump back down because the route doesn’t top out.”

While base jumping is a relatively new experience for Newberry, he reported that he has been into free soloing since his early climbing years.

I always dabbled with soloing when I was young. I tend to go through phases where I get really into solo and then that period passes… while rock climbing pushes you physically, free solo pushes you mentally.

Clearly, Tom Newberry can push his mind and body quite far.


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