Photo Essay: American Sport Climbing

Photos by Andy Mann / Words by Jonathan Siegrist - Sport climbing in America has undergone a lifetime of changes during its almost 30 years of existence. What was once considered an ethically questionable practice has not only been widely accepted, but embraced by the climbing community. Sport climbing history is not only a fascinating story—it's unique in that its landmarks remain for our current-day experience. Historical testpieces and groundbreaking routes are accessible to anyone and can be enjoyed by every following generation.

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Lauren Lee sends Anaconda (5.11c), Garden of the Gods, Colorado

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Sheyna Button sending her long-term project, The Gym Arete (5.12b), Shelf Road, Colorado.

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Lauren Lee sending The Example (5.13b), Shelf Road, Colorado.

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Siegrist tasting the polished limestone of American Fork Canyon, Utah.

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The author pulling down on Heretic (5.13), City of Rocks, Utah.

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Lauren Lee on the bullet rock of Little Si Mountain, Washington.

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The author pulling down on Heretic (5.13), City of Rocks, Utah.

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Lauren Lee on the bullet rock of Little Si Mountain, Washington.

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Siegrist makes a rare ascent of Pornstar (5.13d), Little Si, Washington.

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The author on the first ascent of The Afterlife (5.12d), Wizard's Gate, Colorado.

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Jackie Hueftle sends Sheer Lunacy (5.11c), Penitente Canyon, Colorado.

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Kevin Jorgeson ropes up for the Wizard's Gate's granite walls, Colorado.

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Siegrist makes the first ascent of Cloak and Dagger (5.13c), Wizard's Gate, Colorado.

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The author pulling down on The Web (5.13c), Eldorado Canyon, Colorado.

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Paige Claassen cranks down at Kentucky's famous Red River Gorge.

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Siegrist climbing Tanks for the Huecos (5.10d) under the moonlight, Penitente Canyon, Colorado.

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Siegrist sends The Legend (5.13d), Red River Gorge, Kentucky.

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Beau Stuart connects the pockets on a 5.12 at Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico.

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Paige Claassen working a 5.13+ at Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico.

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The author crimping his way through another Sitting Bull Falls 5.13.

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Climbers cranking up and out of Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico.

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Ten Sleep's "Scrote Block Roof," an underdeveloped giant limestone wall.

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Sheyna Button on the immaculate Great White Behemoth (5.12b), Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

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Dave Hume sets up on Hellion (5.13c), Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

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Jen Fleming knows to Always Keep it Loaded (5.12a), Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

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The awesome alpine limestone of God's Crag, Gunnison, Colorado.

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Siegrist sends Grand Ol' Opry (5.14b) at The Monastery, Colorado.

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The author sending Hellion (5.13c), Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

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Paige Claassen sending God's Own Stone (5.14), Red River Gorge, Kentucky.

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The author sends 100 Ounces of Gold, Red River Gorge, Kentucky.