A recently published national study in the United States called “Outdoor Recreation Trends & Futures” has just revealed that rock climbing is now included in the top 5 activities for growth. They survey that was conduced across 2060 participants concluded the following:
Challenge Activities like mountain climbing, rock climbing & caving are projected to grow 50-86% in this period.
The craze for this skillful adventure activity has found its heartfelt fans and even claimed lives of some who tried to push it beyond boundaries (R.I.P- Todd Skinner, John Bachar & free soloist Dan Osman). No matter what the dangers involved in this extreme sport, rock climbers often find themselves tempted by head spinning heights & rock faces that can dizzy put the toughest men. I believe, it’s the adrenaline pumps faster in their bodies than us normal folks.
Some of the best rock climbers in the world are only the best because they have time and again set records & inspiration for a sport that has grown into a frenzy all over the world (more than 10 million participants between
2005-09!). Needless to say this rock climbing calls out only the men with guts and little glory. Dan Osman was a carpenter in real life & lived the life of a nomad even though he was one of the best climbers of our time.
Here’s a list of the ten best rock climbers on this planet…
1. Chris Sharma
Chris Omprakash Sharma spent his childhood in Santa Cruz, California and has been rock climbing since he was 12 years old. A Bouldering National champ at 14, Chris had already decided rock climbing was his pulse. On turning 15, he completed a “5.14c climb which was the highest rated climb in North America at that time”. He has nailed some of the toughest rock climbing routes in the world like they were child’s play including Es Pontas & La Rambla. With tons of awards to his name, Chris Sharma is easily one of the best names in the sport. He also gets sponsored by some of the biggest adventure gear & sports companies in the world like Petzl, Nutriex, Evolv, Sanuk & Sterling Ropes. King of Lines is a film that follows his adventures & climbs from all over the world and is also reflective of his personal life as a climber. Chris has now moved to Spain & is busy discovering & setting his next routes in the mountains.
Chris says: “Climbing is merely one of the ways to exist, pass the time and evolve and grow from one moment to the next. That’s all.”
Here’s what he does best…
2. Steph Davis
Steph Davis is one of the very few woman climbers (also one of the best!) that has managed to inspire youngsters of her age to pick up rock climbing as an activity for liberating soul & fear. Climbing for the “love” of it has always been her motto to pick up some of the toughest rocks faces. She constantly challenges herself to discover thoughts she never comes across on the barren land inhabited by crowds. Her childhood was spent mostly in Illinois but she soon moved to Colorado while pursuing higher education. A law university dropout by choice, she can be found “bouldering” on the mountains of El Capitan in Yosemite. She was the first woman to free-climb the Salathe’s Wall (El Cap) & the second to free climb El Capitan in just one day. Steph is also an avid blogger, traveler, BASE jumper & wingsuit flyer and is currently based out of Moab, either living in her truck or a tent.
This is her Diamond Free Solo video…
Born on 24th July 1960 in Oran (Algeria), Catherine is a french rock climber & mountaineer who is easily among the most recognizable faces in the world of rock climbing. She was the first woman to successfully climb the ascent of Eiger’s North face, solo and that too in under 15 hours. After quitting her career as a physiotherapist, Catherine became a full time professional rock climber by entering into her first competition in the year 1985. She has never looked back since and some of her most popular climbs are proof of that: 13c route (Chouca at Boux- hardest route in the world climbed by a woman, Bonatti Route – Matterhorn, north face direct of the Cima Grande di Lavaredo etc.) She is also a successful speaker & helps various companies in understanding more about risk, accomplishing goals etc.
Catch Catherine in action at Devil’s Tower…
4. Dean Potter
Dean Potter is a better known American free climber & BASE Jumper apart from a master in a couple of other similar extreme sports like BASE Lining & highlining. His speed & the control in the sport is remarkable and his most noted climbs include Yosemite & Patagonia. He is also responsible for having created many new routes & climbing the The Reticent Wall, one of the hardest climbs on El Capitan in a little under 35 hours. Due to the his climb of Delicate Arch (Arches National Park), he became the subject of public outrage as it is considered to be more a “symbol of the state’s wild beauty”. He lost his sponsorship by Patagonia (a clothing company) after the incident in 2006. Hard ascents, free solo ascents & speed ascents are some of the other features he is known for. When it comes to BASE Jumping, he has done some of the most thrilling jumps in the world. You can check out his profile here to follow his work & upcoming projects/news/features: Climbingandmore.com.
Dean says: “Soloing for me is about being completely in the moment, not worrying about the past or future, but just being right here, right now. That’s why I do it.”
Here’s his video of a bunch of things he loves doing…
5. Alex Honnold
Alex is a big wall free solo climber and has been breaking a no. of speed records, specially the Yosemite Triple crown. He shares his current record with Hans Florine. Religiously, he considers himself a “militant atheist” and loves reading on philosophy, literature, economics & of course, environmentalism. His favorite outdoor climb is the Yosemite because of its challenging walls & the relieving weather. Born in Sacramento, California, Alex took interest in climbing at a young age of 11 years & dropped out of UC Berkeley where he went to study engineering. He currently lives in his van & spends less than $1000 on his living. Inspired by the likes of Peter Croft & John Bachar, he was awarded the “Golden Piton” for his achievements in climbing.
Alex says “Dude…” & “Mellow…”
Alex in ascent of Half Dome in assoc. with National Geographic…
6. Lynn Hill
Lynn Hill once set a record straight for 10 years by climbing the 3500 ft. vertical face of the El Capitan without the use of any artificial hand or foot holds. She led the movement of encouragement of women to get into rock climbing in the mostly male dominated sport. A top sport climber in the 198o’s, Lynn is considered a legend woman climber & has inspired many women rock climbers of this century. In 2005, she started climbing camps in the United States to popularize rock climbing among young children. Patagonia, the gear & clothing company sponsors her. The first person ever to free The Nose, a technical route once considered impossible to climb.
Lynn says “I’m a curious person. That, I think, is a quality that’s necessary for education: if you’re not curious then you’re not interested, and if you’re not interested then you’re not going to learn. I got an education in biology so I could go into physical therapy — that was the original idea — or become a doctor. But I figured that doctors had to work too much…“
Lynn for Patagonia at Hueco Tanks…
Tommy along with his wife Beth Rodden, made it as the first couple to complete the Nose. The American rock climber has made his mark in various types of climbing like sport climbing, big wall speed climbing, big wall free climbing etc. He did the first ascents on some of the toughest & mind-blowing sport routes like Kryptonite & Flex Luthor (Colorado). He has just recently done the 1st free fall ascent with Alex Honnold. His life is nothing short of adventurous in the truest sense; he & his then wife Beth Rodden along with climber friends, John Dickey & Jason Smith were held hostages in Kyrgyzstan once but managed to escape when he pushed off one of the captors off a cliff. He’s completed many famous ascents like Magic Mushroom & The Honeymoon is Over.
Tommy says “I’m somebody who finds something to focus on – some goal – and then I work toward that. And climbing is perfect for that.”
Tommy & Alex doing El Cap’s hardest route…
8. Beth Rodden
Beth, previously married to Tommy Caldwell, is the youngest woman climber to complete grade 5.14a. She started climbing in 1995 at a local climbing gym in Davis, California. She’s been featured in many documentaries & films on rock climbing and ascents because of her fine accomplishments.
Beth Rodden Visiting the Crux…
9. John Long
If there’s anyone else in the world who deserves to be an adventurous comic hero apart from TinTin, it’s this guy. American rock climber John Long’s stories go far & beyond the imagination of the crowds. He has more than 42 titles under his name & more than 2 million books under print. After graduating from California, he went on to become one of the founding members of an elite adventure group called “Stonemasters“. The group was comprised of some of the most famous rock climbers we know today, though relatively unknown back then in their teen years. John never restricted himself to just rock climbing and diverged into a lot of other extreme sport activities like caving, BASE Jumping, alpine climbing, river running, big wave surfing & tons more. He has worked with multiple television networks & channels including the box office hit film Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone, for which he even wrote the screenplay.
John says “The champion will quickly learn that it is much easier to become one than to remain one. It’s never crowded at the top, but the queue is long and others are banging at the door.”
Vintage footage of John Long, Lynn Hill & Dave Katz…
10. Dave Graham
Dave Graham is a guy that can climb practically anything. He’s the kinds who tempts fate more often that what seemingly defines the standard of normality. He has done climbs of some of the hardest boulders in the world & is ever-ready to challenge himself for any extreme adventure sporting challenges. Considered to be one of the best boulderers of his generation, he is also the writer for Climbing Magazine’s website. He did his first ascent of The Fly in Rumney (New Hampshire). You can check out some of his cool videos here: Rock Climbing For Life.
Here’s him showing off some sick moves…
We’ll soon be showcasing some more rock climbers who have managed to shake the audiences all over the world with their skills & expertise of the art of rock climbing. Watch this space for more…