11/16/12 - A French newspaper is reporting that Patrick Edlinger, one of the great free climbers of the 1980s, has died at home at age 52. No cause of death was given.
Edlinger was one of the leading figures in the sport climbing revolution, putting up numerous routes and free climbing as hard as 8c (5.14b) in the late 1980s. He also free-soloed routes as hard as 5.13b, and he won many major competitions, including an early international event at Snowbird Lodge in Utah. With his elegant climbing, his headband, short shorts, and long hair—he was known as "Le Blond"—Edglinger embodied French style at a time when the French were defining modern rock climbing.
Edlinger also launched climbing development at the great crag above Ceüse, France, creating numerous spicy routes with widely spaced bolts. Asked years later why he didn't put in more bolts, Edlinger said it was simply because he and his partners didn't have enough money. They wanted to put up lots of routes, and thus they had to ration their bolts.
More details on Edlinger's death will be provided as they become available.
Watch this video clip for classic footage of Edlinger climbing in France's Verdon Gorge, including a barefoot free-solo: