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Ever wondered who masters gravity in the vertical realm of rock climbing?

From audacious ascents to unprecedented achievements, these 15 climbing icons shatter the limits of what seems humanly possible.

Strap in as we scale the heights with the gods and goddesses of the vertical world, one legendary ascent at a time.

Best Rock Climbers:

  1. Chris Sharma
  2. Adam Ondra
  3. Alex Honnold
  4. Janja Garnbret
  5. Sasha DiGiulian
  6. Tommy Caldwell
  7. Lynn Hill
  8. Ashima Shiraishi
  9. Nalle Hukkataival
  10. Catherine Destivelle
  11. Margo Hayes
  12. Stefano Ghisolfi
  13. Jakob Schubert
  14. Reinhold Messner
  15. Angela Eiter

#1 Chris Sharma

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 23, 1981
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First ascent of “Realization” (Biographie), 9a+ (5.15a), Established “Jumbo Love,” 5.15b (9b)

Chris Sharma is often referred to as a rock climbing visionary, known for his dynamic climbing style and profound impact on the sport. He has been at the forefront of pushing the limits of difficulty in rock climbing, particularly with his first ascent of “Realization,” considered one of the world’s first 5.15a climbs.

Sharma’s contributions to the climbing community include the establishment of climbing gyms and events to help grow the sport. His dedication has influenced generations of climbers, and outside of climbing, he is also active in environmental causes and is a proponent of the outdoors. Off the wall, Sharma embraces a lifestyle that celebrates adventure and the natural world, making him not just a climbing legend but also an ambassador for the sport.

#2 Adam Ondra

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Czech
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: February 5, 1993
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First to climb 9b+ (5.15c) route, multiple World Championship and World Cup titles in lead climbing and bouldering

Nicknamed the “Czech Phenom,” Adam Ondra’s exceptional technique and analytical approach to climbing have set him apart. He ascended the world’s first 9b+ (5.15c) route, solidifying his status as one of the best competitive and outdoor rock climbers in history.

Ondra’s precision and flexibility are hallmarks of his climbing style. Despite his focused demeanor on the rock, he remains accessible and inspirational to climbers worldwide through online content and coaching. Adam champions the ethics of climbing and is vocal about clean climbing practices. Ondra’s down-to-earth personality and contributions to community initiatives resonate well beyond his athletic achievements.

#3 Alex Honnold

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 17, 1985
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First free solo of El Capitan in Yosemite (“Free Solo,” 5.12d), numerous speed records

Alex Honnold, best known for his unprecedented free solo climb of El Capitan, is a symbol of mental fortitude and physical mastery in rock climbing. His free soloing, a style where the climber uses no ropes or protective gear, showcases his exceptional confidence and ability to manage fear.

The documentary “Free Solo” introduced Honnold’s achievements to a broader audience, highlighting the gravity of his pursuits. His dedication to environmental stewardship is evidenced through the Honnold Foundation, which promotes solar energy for a more equitable world. Alex is not only a trailblazer in climbing but also a role model for responsible outdoor recreation and humanitarian efforts.

#4 Janja Garnbret

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Slovenian
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 12, 1999
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (Tokyo 2020), multiple IFSC World Cup and World Championship titles

Janja Garnbret has been described as a climbing prodigy, capturing the gold medal at the inaugural Olympic sport climbing event and dominating international competitions. Her extraordinary competition record is matched by her technical skills and composed climbing style.

Garnbret’s influence extends to encouraging women’s participation in climbing and sports generally. Her deep love for climbing is paralleled by her contributions to her community, often involved in youth climbing initiatives. As a prominent female figure in the sport, Janja’s charismatic and engaging personality makes her a prime inspiration for young athletes.

#5 Sasha DiGiulian

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 23, 1992
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First American woman to climb grade 9a (5.14d), Three-time US National Champion

Sasha DiGiulian is celebrated for her pioneering achievements, including being the first American woman to complete a climb graded 9a. Known for her tenacity and strategic approach to problem-solving on the rock, she has made significant first female ascents around the world.

DiGiulian is also an advocate for gender equality and a motivational speaker, using her platform to inspire and empower women in sports. Off the cliff, she engages in philanthropic efforts and promotes healthy lifestyle choices, reinforcing her commitment to not just excel in her sport but to also make a positive impact on society.

#6 Tommy Caldwell

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 11, 1978
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First ascent of the Dawn Wall (El Capitan), numerous first ascents and speed records

Tommy Caldwell is a legendary figure in the climbing community, recognized for his incredible willpower and groundbreaking ascents, such as the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. His memoir “The Push” details his transformative journey as a climber and his resilience overcoming adversities, including a harrowing hostage situation and losing a finger.

Beyond climbing, Caldwell is an active environmental advocate, speaking out for public land protection. He embodies the perseverance and exploratory spirit of climbing, teaching others about the importance of goal-setting and determination. Caldwellโ€™s contributions to climbing and environmental conversation make him a respected and inspirational character both on and off the rock.

#7 Lynn Hill

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 3, 1961
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan, World Cup and Rock Master champion

Lynn Hill is a trailblazer in rock climbing, especially for women in the sport, known for her historic first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan. Her climbing career is distinguished by balance, grace, and the ability to tackle climbs many thought impossible.

Hill’s autobiography “Climbing Free” recounts her life’s challenges and triumphs both on and off the rock. She is a symbol of empowerment and a mentor, conducting climbing clinics worldwide. For Lynn Hill, climbing represents a philosophy of living, pushing boundaries, and fostering a deep respect for nature. Her pioneering spirit continues to inspire climbers across genders and generations.

#8 Ashima Shiraishi

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 3, 2001
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Rock Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: Youngest person to climb a 9a+ (5.15a) and 9a (5.14d) route, multiple youth competition titles

Ashima Shiraishi emerged as a climbing phenom, defying age limitations by completing some of the hardest climbs worldwide at a very young age. Her exceptional finger strength and dynamic climbing style have earned her top spots in youth competitions and recognition in the open circuit.

Though still in the early stages of her career, Shiraishi is a role model for young climbers, encouraging them to pursue their passions. Her success is accompanied by her advocacy for diversity in climbing, and she maintains a significant presence in the fashion world, challenging traditional athlete stereotypes. Ashima’s blend of passion, creativity, and community involvement sets her apart as a unique icon in rock climbing and beyond.

#9 Nalle Hukkataival

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Finnish
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 8, 1986
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Boulderer
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First ascent of “Burden of Dreams” V17 (2016), First to propose a V17 grade

Recognized for pushing the limits of bouldering, Nalle Hukkataival is renowned for his first ascent of “Burden of Dreams”, the first-ever problem to be graded V17. His dedication to bouldering has led to significant advancements in the sport, setting new benchmarks for difficulty.

Hukkataival’s influence extends into the climbing community through his expedition projects and inspirational climbing films. Despite his quiet persona, his achievements speak volumes, and his commitment to exploring new areas has broadened the horizons for future climbers. His explorations and community engagements enrich the climbing culture, inspiring passion and determination in others.

#10 Catherine Destivelle

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: French
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: July 24, 1960
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Climber, Soloist
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First woman to complete a solo ascent of the Eiger’s North Face (1992), Won the prestigious Piolet d’Or (2014)

Catherine Destivelle is a pioneering spirit in the climbing world, best known for her daring solo ascents and as one of the most outstanding female climbers of her era. Her remarkable solo expeditions on some of the world’s most notorious faces have inspired both male and female climbers.

Aside from her climbing feats, she has authored several books and produced films that capture the essence of mountaineering, further contributing to the sport’s legacy. Her influence has gone beyond climbing, promoting environmental consciousness and safety in the mountains. Catherine’s ventures and accomplishments have established her as an icon in the climbing community and a role model for future generations.

#11 Margo Hayes

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: American
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: February 11, 1998
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Sport Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First woman to climb 5.15a/9a+ with ascent of “La Rambla” (2017), USA Climbing National Team Member

Margo Hayes rose to prominence in the climbing world with her historic ascent of “La Rambla,” becoming the first woman to climb a route graded 5.15a/9a+. Her achievements have shattered glass ceilings, showcasing incredible strength and setting a new standard for female climbers.

Her meticulous approach and technical precision have become the hallmark of her climbing style, contributing to the evolution of competitive climbing. Hayes balances her rigorous training with a strong academic focus, emphasizing the importance of education alongside athletic pursuits. As a trailblazer in the sport, she continues to inspire young climbers, especially girls, to aim high and challenge the status quo.

#12 Stefano Ghisolfi

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Italian
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: February 18, 1993
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Professional Sport Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: Multiple 9b+ route ascents, Italian Climbing Cup Champion

Stefano Ghisolfi has emerged as one of Italy’s top climbers, with multiple ascents of routes graded 9b+ under his belt. His ability to crack hard routes has established him as a contender on the international climbing scene, known for his exceptional technique and dedication.

Beyond his climbing accolades, Ghisolfi actively engages with his followers on social media, providing insights into his training and climbing adventures. This level of accessibility has made him a fan-favorite and a key figure in fostering a strong climbing community. His contributions to climbing span riveting competitions and community-building initiatives, making him a pivotal figure in the global climbing landscape.

#13 Jakob Schubert

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Austrian
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 31, 1990
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Competitive Sport Climber, Boulderer
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: World Champion (multiple times in Lead climbing), 2020 Tokyo Olympics Bronze medalist

One of the most accomplished climbers from Austria, Jakob Schubert’s name is synonymous with consistency and excellence in the sport. His numerous World Championship titles in Lead climbing underscore his tactical prowess and athletic endurance, propelling him to be a favorite in international competitions.

Schubert’s achievements at the Olympics, where he secured a bronze medal, have further cemented his reputation in the climbing community. Alongside his athletic career, Jakob is known for his sportsmanship and approachable demeanor, influencing younger climbers and advocating for the sport’s growth. His dedication extends beyond competitive dominance, contributing to the development of climbing as an inclusive and respected sport.

#14 Reinhold Messner

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Italian
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 17, 1944
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Mountaineer, Explorer, Author
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: First ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen (1978), First climber to ascend all fourteen eight-thousanders (1986)

Reinhold Messner is a legendary figure in mountaineering, known not only for his extraordinary ascents but also for redefining the limits of what was considered possible in high-altitude climbing. His feat of summiting Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen revolutionized mountaineering standards and philosophies.

A prolific author and a dedicated environmentalist, Messner has been vocal about preserving the world’s mountain regions. His various mountain museums in the Alps are a testament to his commitment to educating the public about the culture and natural beauty of these environments. Messner’s legacy is not defined solely by his climbing achievements, but also by his efforts to conserve the pristine nature of the mountains for future generations.

#15 Angela Eiter

  • ๐ŸŒ Nationality: Austrian
  • ๐ŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 27, 1986
  • ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Position/Role: Competitive Sport Climber
  • ๐Ÿ† Career Highlights: Four-time Lead Climbing World Champion, First woman to climb a 9b route (2017)

Angela Eiter stands out in the climbing world with her unparalleled record of four Lead Climbing World Championships. She pushed the boundaries for female climbers by being the first woman to successfully climb a 9b route, raising the bar for competitive sport climbing.

Known for her formidable strength and laser-focus, Eiter has been a role model for aspiring climbers, especially women, to pursue excellence in the sport. Her ventures beyond competition include coaching and mentoring, where she shares her experience and passion. Angela’s contribution to climbing transcends her individual success, fostering a generation of climbers who aspire to reach new heights.

FAQ

Who is the best Rock Climbing player of all time?

Chris Sharma is often cited as the best Rock Climbing player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Chris Sharma is the best rock climber of all time. Renowned for his pioneering ascents and contributions to the sport, his influence is undeniable.

Who are the top 10 greatest Rock Climbing players of all time?

Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra, Alex Honnold, Janja Garnbret, Sasha DiGiulian, Tommy Caldwell, Lynn Hill, Ashima Shiraishi, Nalle Hukkataival, and Catherine Destivelle are the top 10 greatest Rock Climbing players of all time. Each climber has pushed the boundaries of the sport in unique ways.

Who is the most famous female Rock Climbing player?

Lynn Hill is the most famous female Rock Climbing player. Her historic free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan revolutionized climbing and cemented her legacy as a climbing icon.

Nic Hilditch-Short, an English football enthusiast and former player, has a rich background in sports despite a knee injury that shifted their focus from football and skateboarding to climbing and hiking. Their early years were marked by their involvement in the Manchester skateboarding scene and playing football at a local and university level, influenced by their professional footballer father. After their injury, they transitioned to climbing and hiking, engaging in indoor bouldering competitions and enjoying outdoor climbs and hikes around the world, from the UK to Australia, New Zealand, and China. Their love for Arsenal football club has remained strong since 2001.

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