In September, Dani Arnold scaled the imposing Cima Grande wall in the Dolomites mountain range, Italy, with nothing but his bare hands and a bag of chalk.
He did so in a record breaking time of 46 minutes, 30 seconds, obliterating the previous record by almost 20 minutes.
“It’s very much a head game. All the skills, like the climbing technique and all the endurance, these are basic for me,” the 35-year-old Arnold told CNN Sport, from his home in Switzerland, as he reflected on his love of free soloing (climbing without ropes).
“There are so many very strong climbers around but having these normal climbing skills whilst also having a very clear mind and feeling safe without a rope, that’s a bit like a joker [card] or a jackpot.”
Climbing has always played an important part in Arnold’s life. Growing up in the Swiss mountains he would spend his days inadvertently honing his skills because, as he put it, “there was nothing else to do.”
As his skills developed, the challenges intensified as Arnold began to feel increasingly comfortable hanging off the steepest of rock faces, albeit with ropes attached and a support team.
It was not until he completed his first free solo while ice climbing that he realized the intense thrill that comes with the most dangerous of sports.