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Another year is coming to a close, and we’re not taking a radical stance by saying that this one was not our favorite. Still, there were some incredible achievements within our sport. The videos below mark the ten most-viewed climbing videos of 2020 on Climbing.com. They highlight barrier-breaking ascents, standout members of our community, exciting adventures, and in one case, even Bear Grylls. Want more? See best-of content from previous years here.
10. Alex Honnold Sets Up a Toprope For Bear Grylls
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Bear Grylls on rock. The last time he was pulling on gear and misusing the term “solo climbing” in the Mojave Desert. Now he’s back to “scale a sheer rock face in the Swiss Alps,” according to National Geographic. No longer solo, or whatever Bear thinks that word means, he’s enlisted the help of Alex Honnold to hang his toprope. This video left us with some outstanding questions, which you can read here.
9. Titan Project: Sabrina Chapman’s Mission to Send Her First 5.14
Melanin Base Camp writes: “Sabrina Chapman, a Canadian sport climber with African and Indian heritage, is on a mission to send her first 5.14a—the threshold for elite climbing. Titan Project is also much more than that. It’s a story of one womxn’s journey of self acceptance, healing and resilience.”
8. Miles Adamson Makes First Ascent of New Grandma Peabody Highball Too Tall to Fall (V10)
In early January. the Canadian climber Miles Adamson completed the first boulder ascent of the slab face of Bishop’s Grandma Peabody boulder. The line is called Too Tall to Fall (V10). Too Tall to Fall shares terrain with Dan Beall’s Tiers of Uncertainy, a 5.14 toprope, before moving out left to connect to 5.9 terrain on the arete. On instagram Adamson wrote, “I hope one day Tiers proper is bouldered, it would be the boldest highball in the world. For now, taking a hard left where the wall gets steep makes this line similar to Too Big to Flail.” Watch the ascent in the video above. Too Tall to Fall begins around 3:30.
7. Brittany Goris Sends Notorious Joshua Tree Crack Stingray (5.13d)
Located on the overhung north side of Joshua Tree’s Iguana Dome, the 90-foot Stingray starts up a left-facing corner before traversing left and entering the route’s principle feature: a pin-scared fingertips crack. The line is so difficult that it laid dormant for 22 years after the first free ascent by Hidetaka Suzuki, who climbed it on pre-placed gear. Brittany Goris’s redpoint of the line on February 7, 2020, marks the route’s first ascent by a woman. Read our story about her ascent here, and read a profile of her here.
6. Big Game Hunter: A Ground-Up Zion First Ascent
This past winter, Lane Mathis, Dakota Walz, Collin Turbet, and Sam Stuckey set off into the Zion backcountry with the goal of climbing a ground-up big wall first ascent. Their efforts culminated in Big Game Hunter (5.12d) on Kolob Canyon’s Beatty Point. The team hand drilled all of the bolts on lead—a legal requirement for national park areas—for the 800-foot line. They spent 8.5 days of effort on the route, first for an ascent with aid and then coming back a week later to free the line. The above video by Mathis is an entertaining and honest look at the group’s effort, highlighting the group’s success, but also the uncertainty and mishaps along the way.
5. Interview: Kyle Walker Discusses His Second Flatiron Fall and the Controversy That Followed
On April 16, 2019, Kyle Walker fell while free soloing North Crack (5.9+) on the Second Flatiron above Boulder, Colorado. His injuries were extensive. Among other things, he broke his pelvis, eight of his ribs, and his wrists, and suffered a traumatic brain injury. GoPro footage of the event went viral, inciting a wave of criticism from the climbing community. In response, Walker lashed out. Over a year after his accident, Walker wanted to clear the air. He reached out to Climbing to tell his story after listening to our interview with Anton Krupicka, who discovered him after the fall and called for rescue.
4. Pete Whittaker Finds Possible New Sequence for Silence Crack
Silence was the world’s first 5.15d, and it’s still one of only two routes of the grade. It’s one of the hardest rock climbs in the world. Seeing that a small portion of the crux involved a crack, crack expert Pete Whittaker decided to give it a try during a recent trip to Norway. While he did not climb the moves before or after the crack, he did find a possible new sequence for that one crux. Ondra responded to say that the new variation might not make the route any easier, but it’s interesting and fun to watch either way. Read Ondra’s response and a follow-up from Whittaker here.
3. Laura Rogora Climbs Ali Hulk Sit Extension Total (5.15b)
On the July 25, 2020, Laura Rogora became the second women in the world to climb 9b/5.15b when she redpointed Ali Hulk Sit Extension Total. The 19-year-old Italian, who will be climbing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, managed the historic feat after working the route for six days. Rogora was belayed by her father and documented by Italian filmmaker Marco Iacono. The route is unique—a combination of a boulder problem and a sport route. Rogora bouldered the opening moves out of the cave in Rodellar Spain until reaching an upside-down, no-hands rest. From this position her father clipped a rope to her harness and put her on belay. From there, she lead out of the cave and up onto the wall above. This film documents the process and the climb that took Rogora into the history books.
2. Stone Locals: Rediscovering the Soul of Rock Climbing
Climbing has always been more than just a sport. It’s provided a way of life and a makeshift family to misfits who share a calling. As the sport grapples with its growing popularity, the people who anchor its core and community have more responsibility than ever. This film tells the stories of five of these anchors, the Stone Locals who keep the soul of climbing and nurture it as the sport evolves. Read an interview with director Mikey Schaefer here.
1. Rotpunkt: Alex Megos and the First Ascent of Bibliographie (5.15d)
Alex Megos never met a route he couldn’t climb in short order—until he encountered Bibliographie, an unclimbed route at the French super-crag, Céüse. In 2017, Megos first tried the route that would become his three-year project. On the path to the send he encountered doubts and injuries and qualified for the Olympics. It wasn’t until COVID turned the world upside down that he was able to return to Céüse and close the books on one of the hardest routes ever climbed. After completing the first ascent, Megos graded Bibiliographie 5.15d, making it the second 5.15d ever after Adam Ondra’s Silence.
Bonus: Iceberg Rolls With Ice Climbers on It
Is this the best climbing video of the year? It’d be hard to make that argument. Was it our most-viewed climbing video of the year? Oh yes, by far. Watch two climbers get very, very lucky they weren’t injured in the video below and watch a more in-depth video from the trip here.