Rock Climbers

Climbing magazine's in-depth profiles and interviews reveal the stories behind rock climbing's most intriguing people: the stars of the sport and the lesser-known local heroes. We ask rock climbers how they got started, what motivates them, and how they get better and stronger.
  • ClimbologyDigitalHP

    Doctor of Climbology: 13 Must-Follow Climbing Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts

    Doctor of Climbology is your shortcut to becoming cultured in climbing. An imperfect, unscientific guide to 55 must-read, must-see, must-hear climbing stories from masters of the art. Here are 13 sources for digital climbing media interesting, funny, or outrageous enough to keep us clicking back.

  • HPVURot

    Own History: Valley Uprising HD Digital Download

    Valley Uprising: Yosemite’s rock climbing revolution is the most highly praised climbing film of all time. Own it today.

  • HPValleyUprisingHarding

    Own History: Valley Uprising HD Digital Download

    Valley Uprising: Yosemite’s rock climbing revolution is the most highly praised climbing film of all time. Own it today.

  • HPPutnam

    Everyday Hero: 5 Ordinary Climbers Who Saved a Life (Part 5)

    A tiny ledge three pitches off the ground. The anchor is unclipped. Your belayer has just fallen over the edge. Now what?

  • HPYardley

    Everyday Hero: 5 Ordinary Climbers Who Saved a Life (Part 4)

    Everyone’s heard the story about a distraught mother lifting a car off her baby pinned underneath. Hoisting a falling climber back up onto a ledge comes pretty close.

  • HPJoeFaint2

    Everyday Hero: 5 Ordinary Climbers Who Saved a Life (Part 3)

    We’re told to carry the Ten Essentials, but we’re also told “light is right.” Most of the time we climb without all the survival gear needed for every possible scenario. Improvising with the gear we do have becomes essential.

  • HeroSplashHP

    Everyday Hero: 5 Ordinary Climbers Who Saved a Life

    Because of experience and training, innate ability and fortitude, or just instinctive reactions in moments of crisis, average climbers can respond to deadly emergencies in extraordinary ways. With courage, calm, stamina, strength, and ingenuity, on a day when nobody expected anything but the simple pleasures of climbing, they end up saving a life.

  • Hero1HP

    Everyday Hero: 5 Ordinary Climbers Who Saved a Life (Part 1)

    “Never take your brake hand off the rope.” That lesson is drilled into every climber from the first day he or she ties in, yet it’s all too easy to witness climbers disobeying this fundamental rule simply to swat a fly or reach for a snack. Now imagine keeping your brake hand on the rope even as you stare death in the face.

  • HPShred

    Interview: Shred All Fear Talks Mullets, Mustaches, and Mountains

    We first learned of Shred All Fear from their video, “Moab Madness!!!”. In it, the “band” climbs Ancient Art with magnificent mustaches on their faces, masculine mullet wigs on their heads, and electric guitars on their backs. It’s ridiculous and amazing. When we reached out to Shred All Fear about an interview, they responded with this list of demands...

  • Alex-Stasia-Cedar-Sufferfest-660

    Inside the Sufferest: Two World-Class Climbers. On Bikes.

    Cedar’s 18-minute film titled Sufferfest was selected to tour the world with the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Check banffcentre.ca for showing locations and dates. Or head to climbing.com/videos to view the film in five smaller episodes.

  • Matt-Segal-Air-China-Fall-1

    To Bolt or Not to Bolt

    I operate under a philosophy that routes don’t need to be repeated safely, so I don’t establish them that way. The joy in climbing routes like these is all my own, and I don’t always feel the need to equip routes with the greater community in mind. Some people might view my approach as reckless. I always try to have a minimalist approach to establishing new lines, but others place a higher importance on repeatability. To each his own—but it’s important to think through your bolting philosophy as a first ascensionist. Have a reason to place—or not place—each bolt.

  • Matt Segal makes the first ascent of Orangutan Roof (5.13+) in Independence Pass, Colorado, in 2008. Photo by John Dickey

    The Art of Development

    The rules of accepted practices in route development are often unclear and confusing; they differ from region to region, usually because of the area’s history, local ethics, laws regarding drilling, and more. To help decode the topic, we picked the brains of a unique cross section of first ascensionists to help paint a picture of the first ascent landscape in America today.

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    Chris Sharma

  • Vet-Ex-Featured-660

    Invisible Wounds

    Hours before sunup, we click on our headlamps and follow the blue-hued cones of light on the first steps of what will surely be a very long day. We’re embarking on a 20-mile traverse of the Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, over the course of which we’ll summit seven peaks over 13,000 feet. For the first half hour or so, our crew of eight military veterans doesn’t say a word—the only sounds are gravelly footfalls and varied degrees of labored breathing in the thin alpine air.

  • Cedar-Wright-Gravity-Ceiling-158

    Rock Therapy

    The rope arches in an unbroken loop from me to Lucho, 30 feet above. “At least there’s no rope drag,” I quip, trying to make light of his predicament. We are six pitches up the South Dragon’s Horn on Tioman Island, off the coast of Malaysia, living proof that climbing can go from fun to fubar in a microsecond.

  • S'more Energy (5.11c), Endless Wall, New River Gorge

    Red River Gorge vs. New River Gorge

    When the Red River Gorge and New River Gorge rivalry threatened to boil over, there was only one place to settle it: on the basketball court. - Huge spotlights suddenly lit up the small community basketball court in Lansing, West Virginia, near the rim of the New River Gorge. Lights, really? Who rigged those?

  • Stephanie Forte's Story

    Every few years, Stephanie Forte, 44, whips herself into top shape and climbs a flurry of hard 5.13s. A New Jersey girl with a sharp wit, a publicist's poise, and fierce athleticism on the rock, Forte has written for Climbing many times and has had her hands on all kinds of climbing-related events and causes.

  • Survivors - Enduring Desperate Situations

    Survivors - Enduring Desperate Situations

    We surveyed readers and more than a dozen climbing historians and writers in North America and Europe to collect 25 stories of stamina, ingenuity, and human will, some well-known, others not. Our hope is to remind readers to take care and prevent accidents--to"do nothing in haste, look well to each step," as Whymper famously said after the Matterhorn tragedy.

  • Staying Alive

    Staying Alive

    Survival tips from climbing rangers - Nobody expects to be loaded onto a litter and evacuated off his first big wall. Or stuck in a snow cave, out of food and fuel, hypothermic, and praying that a storm will quit and someone will find him. Yet it happens, every year, and not just to newbies. Climbers make mistakes, or get unlucky, and rescue rangers drop from the sky and save our asses.

  • Chris-Sharma-515c-Project-Oliana

    Half Life: Chris Sharma and His Career So Far

    Sharma has delivered everything that "the next generation" is supposed to in rock climbing. He has been setting new standards for 15 years—half his life. And now, on April 23, he turns 30.

  • AMPED: The climbs back home for three veterans

    AMPED: The climbs back home for three veterans

    Three wounded Iraq War Veterans recount their near-death stories and triumphant climbs back home.

  • 21 Questions with Boone Speed

    21 Questions with Boone Speed

    Portland Oregon Based pro-photographer, father and 5.14+ climber, Boone Speed recently had his work showcased on the highly acclaimed and widely respected Feature Shoot website "featuring" photos and interviews with both up-and-coming and established photographers.

  • The Guidebook Odyssey - Unearthing the epic task of writing a guidebook

    The Guidebook Odyssey - Unearthing the epic task of writing a guidebook

    Never a fan of guidebooks, I’ve long had a “just pick a route that looks good and climb“ mentality. “It’s supposed to be an adventure!“ I’d tell myself. Until one fateful day at Colorado‘s Eldorado Canyon.

  • Steve McClure's New 5.15a

    On May 20, 2008, Steve McClure, 37, freed his super-sustained 100-foot crimpfest project on the North Buttress at Kilnsey Crag, in Yorkshire, U.K., on his second redpoint attempt. Climbing interviewed McClure about the route, his training, and other climbs.

  • Stone Monkeys: Visions of the Modern-age Stonemasters

    Stone Monkeys: Visions of the Modern-age Stonemasters

    By Cedar Wright - Photos by Dean Fidelman - The Stone Monkeys are a slightly more inclusive, modern-day equivalent of the “Stonemasters,” the amorphous band of Valley hardmen who pushed the limits of climbing in the 1970s and ‘80s. However, to be a Stone Monkey, you don’t have to climb hard or be famous (though quite a few Monkeys fit this bill).

  • Dark Side of the Climber Mind

    Dark Side of the Climber Mind

    By Matt Samet, Kenneth Long, Fitz Cahall, Majka Burhardt, and Chad Shepard - We’ve gathered five essays linked by a common thread: dark manifestations of the climber mind because many climbers face these issues, but cowed by the cacophony of the dirtbag-chic, free-wheelin’ climbing community, silence themselves.

  • Chris Sharma: King Of Kings

    Chris Sharma: King Of Kings

    Chris Sharma, 26, an athlete endowed with unparalleled physical strength and mental tenacity, has dominated world sport climbing and bouldering for the last dozen years.

  • The Life of Warren "Batso" Harding

    The Life of Warren "Batso" Harding

    Perhaps you’ve never heard of Warren Harding and his extraordinary exploits, both on and off the rock, but be assured that in the Sierra his name is hammered in the granite pantheon of climbing immortals.

  • Rock Climbing on Mt. Kinabalu

    6/20/07 - On Malaysia's high point, Mount Kinabalu (13,435 feet), lurks a climber's paradise, a granite plateau beetling with unclimbed aiguilles and rent by a 2,000-foot-deep canyon. Here, an interview with three climbers who did a new route on one of the spires.

  • The Other Side of Fred Rouhling

    The Other Side of Fred Rouhling

    In the sport-climbing world, perhaps no man has received as much bad press as Fred Rouhling, a Frenchman who made the news in the mid-1990s. In 1995, his infamy hit international proportions when he claimed the 9b grade for one of his routes, Rouhling’s other hard routes were almost as controversial.

  • Brittany Anne Griffith

    Imagine a committed lifer in adventure rock climbing, and Brittany Anne Griffith, 42, is the living definition. She’s led vertical miles of Indian Creek and Yosemite splitters, fiddled RPs on dicey 5.11s in Eldo, whipped on TCUs at the New—climbed everywhere, basically: in 43 countries and counting, on six continents.

  • Legends: Tommy Caldwell

    My first road trip was probably to Yosemite at around age 4—my sister, my mom, my dad, and myself. We did that trip every summer until around the time I was nine. That was kind of my dad’s stomping ground. He always had Yosemite in his heart, and that’s probably where my love for Yosemite came from, because I have all these fond memories of being there as a kid.

  • Legends: George Lowe

    I was so unaware of the scope of rock climbing when I started. I just took it up without knowing much about these crazy people in California who were going out—but at least it got me out of the city. So, I didn’t really have these models directly early on. I mean it’s been 50 years, and my memory isn’t as good as it should be, but I don’t remember anyone explicitly. There was so little communication about rock climbing—very little within the States.

  • Legends: Lynn Hill

    [Chuck] was the one who kind of passed on the rock climbing culture to me, because he read books and was a subscriber to Climbing magazine, and so he would pass me the magazines. So I’d read articles, and I remember Doug Robinson’s article in the Chouinard catalog, whatever it was called, The Art of something—and I just remember that being kind of a defining ethic, you know “leave no trace.”

  • Sam Elias

    Five years ago, Sam Elias, now 29, left a well-paying job in Detroit, for Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. He was barely a rock climber. That season, between pizza shifts at Miguel’s, Elias sent 5.12. The next season, 5.13. Since then, after a few summers in Rifle, Colorado, Elias has ticked Tom Foolery (5.14b), The Crew and Girl Talk (5.14c), and his own Living the Dream (5.14a/b).

  • Malcolm Daly

    Malcolm Daly, 55, feeds his soul by feeding his friends—mole, paella, margs; sharing food is his favorite way to develop the sense of community he thrives on. Ever since two near-death experiences rocked his world in 1999 and 2004, Daly has gregariously shared his life and stories with others.

  • Bloopers

    When I hang out with other pro climbing photographers, we don’t talk about things like f/stops, shutter speeds, or the newest and lightest camera body. Catching up over drinks by an open fire at Indian Creek or at some lame industry party at the Salt Lake trade show, we talk shit. Sometimes literally. This is not a story about how professional climbing photographers capture the ultimate climbing moment. These are our tales of comedy and peril—and shit.

  • Corey Rich

    Corey Rich's storytelling passion and keen eye—and a dose of good luck—have turned him into one of the most successful rock climbing and mountaineering photographers in the outdoor industry. As a partner of the prolific Aurora stock agency, his business skill and savvy are almost as impressive as his imagery. Rich, 35, has a down-to-earth persona that belies his success.

  • Aaron Huey

    Aaron Huey, author of the highly eccentric guidebook to the limestone of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, is more than a rock climbing author and photographer. As a photojournalist, he’s shot everywhere from Yemen to the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Huey broke onto the big-time photography scene in 2002 when he walked more than 3,000 miles across America with his dog, Cosmo, and had a photo essay published in Smithsonian.

  • Rapid Transit

    In 2007, after several attempts, Ueli Steck finally broke the speed record on the original route up the Eiger north face, climbing solo and belaying himself only for three short sections. No one was really surprised. It is Steck’s backyard mountain (he lives only 30 minutes away), and he had been progressively inching closer to the record.

  • Ian Caldwell

    Rock climber Ian Caldwell donates so much time and energy to the place he loves most, locals call him the “Mayor of Smith Rock.” His allegiance to Oregon’s best-known rock climbing area started in 1991, during a university outing. One visit turned Caldwell into a committed climber. His most recent claim to fame is redpointing all the 5.14a routes in the park.

  • Angela Hawse

    As a climbing guide, certification by the IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations) is the ultimate milestone: Hopefuls must take extensive courses and pass arduous tests in three disciplines—rock climbing, alpine climbing, and ski mountaineering—over the course of five to 10 years. Angela Hawse is one of only seven women in the U.S. to achieve this status.

  • Eric Zschiesche

    In the 1994 book Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to American Bouldering, John Sherman called Eric Zschiesche, 50, one of America’s top boulderers—and one of climbing’s most colorful characters. From teenage solos at Moore’s Wall, North Carolina (before ropes or protection were even in his lexicon), to climbing El Capitan a year and a half later, to soloing the bottom girders of the New River Gorge Bridge, the legends go on and on.

  • Jimmie Redo

    A small mob of kids swarms rock climbing coach Jimmie Redo under the campus board at Movement Climbing + Fitness climbing gym in Boulder. It’s Monday night, and Redo’s preparing the team for upcoming bouldering nationals. You might not recognize him, but Redo (pronounced Ree-dough) has helped shape the climbing world for nearly 30 years.

  • Dean Fidelman

    Dean Fidelman, 54, grew up in L.A., learned to climb at age 15, and in the 1970s became a member—and the unofficial team photographer—of the Stonemasters. His black-and-white imagery of Bachar, Hill, Long, Sorenson, Yablonski, and the rest of that hardcore SoCal group might be the most celebrated climbing action-portraiture ever done.

  • Brian Runnells (aka The Climbing Narc)

    With user-friendly, DIY websites, anyone can run a rock climbing blog. But few update their blogs several times daily—and attract more than 2,500 unique visitors per day. Brian Runnells, aka the Climbing Narcissist, is one of those few. The Wisconsin native created Climbingnarc.com about four years ago, and he now spends 10 to 20 hours a week posting competition results, news of hard ascents around the world, videos, and debates over controversial topics.

  • Anthony Love

    If you've ever rock climbed in Boone, North Carolina, you’ve likely seen Anthony Love crushing. He’s established problems like Preferential Treatment (V10, Blowing Rock Boulders) and climbed classic Boone routes like Pigs in Zen (5.13a, The Dump). More than just a Southern hard man, though, A-Love, as he’s commonly known, spends at least 20 hours a week as the president of the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC), a position he’s held for three years.

  • Royal Robbins

    Royal Robbins, 75, owned Yosemite’s big walls in the 1960s, and his list of FAs is longer than this page. He was the first to solo El Capitan, was a pioneering free climber, was instrumental in promoting clean rock climbing during the piton era, wrote soulful stories and superb instructional books, started a clothing company, and had an entire second adventure-sports career in extreme kayaking.

  • Players: Matt Maddaloni

    Friends call him “the Matt scientist.” Rock climber Matt Maddaloni works as the lead construction rigger and mechanical designer for Ziptrek Ecotours, a company that specializes in zipline-based eco-adventures. The 32-year-old Victoria, BC, native and self-taught engineer also founded a company that produces the Sea to Sky Cable Cam, a remote-controlled robotic cable cam that allows smooth aerial views for filmmaking.

  • Kurt Albert (1/24/1954 - 9/28/2010)

    In 1975, Kurt Albert, now 56, painted a red circle on the limestone at the base of Adolf Rott Ged.-Weg, on Streitberger Schild in Germany’s Frankenjura cragging region—his idea of a way to denote that the climb’s moves had been freed. When Albert did the route bottom to top, no falls, he filled in the circle and a new term was born: the rotpunkt, or redpoint.