Austin Howell, 31, better known as 'Freesoloist' by his social following on Instagram has sadly passed away after falling from a route on Shortoff Mountain, North Carolina.
Austin first became known for 'climbing in a hat' first became known when he uploaded a video of him soloing a route known as Dopey Duck (Grade 5.9) with nothing at all - not even clothes - except for a hat.
Since then, Austin has pushed himself further and further in his soloing career, sending routes such as Dalai Lama (5.12), Tangerine (5.12a) and Satisfaction (5.12a). The site of his fall at Shortoff Mountain was to be his next big venture. At this time, it isn't known what route he was attempting.
Austin fell some time in the late morning of June 30th, according to the Burke County Office of Emergency Services. "Approximately 1.18pm, rescue crews reached the victim using rappelling equipment while other climbers were administering CPR. The victom was pronounced dead at 1.30pm."
Following the announcement, his parents updated his Facebook profile with a message:
We are absolutely devastated to share that our beautiful, smart and witty son, Austin Howell, passed away today. He was an absolute joy and will be remembered by everyone as a teacher, lover of nature, and climber.
The news of his passing brings the recorded climber deaths in 2019 into the double figures.
Please, stay safe out there.
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Photo Credit: @Freesoloist on Instagram