The World’s Most Famous Rock Climbers – Biggest Risk Takers


Most Famous Rock Climbers

When most people think of rock climbing, they imagine daredevils scaling sheer cliff faces with little more than a few pieces of equipment and a lot of courage. 

And while there are certainly climbers who fit that description, the truth is that rock climbing is not just for adrenaline junkies. Instead, there are many types of rock climbers, each with unique skills, techniques, and goals.

The World’s Most Famous Rock Climbers List Includes; Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill, Tommy Caldwell and Adam Ondra.

Alex Honnold – Top of Most Famous Rock Climbers List

Most Famous Rock Climbers List alex honnald

Alex Honnold is one of the world’s most famous rock climbers and speed-climbing experts. Honnold is best known for his free solo ascents and climbs completed without ropes or other safety gear. And some of these make the tippy top of the most famous climb list.

Honnold has completed some of the most challenging free solo climbs in the world, including the 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (which is an outdoor climbing video you’ve no doubt seen if you’re into watching climbing videos on YouTube). This climb is one of the hardest that anyone has ever completed, and it will likely stay this way too.

Honnold’s achievements are certainly impressive, and at this point, he is one of the most famous rock climbers of his generation, especially to the more casual audience as plenty of them (myself included) had to sit through his documentary gripping our seats. Of course, this was done in his usual climbing styles; cool, calm, and calculated.

Although he is undoubtedly the most famous rock climber in the world, there are other world-class climbers. Include Tommy Caldwell, best known for his free climbing ascents, and Lynn Hill, the first person to free climb the Nose route on El Capitan.

And there are many more fellow climbers we are going to talk about his this blog…

Tommy Caldwell

tommy caldwell famous rock climber

Mountaineering isn’t just about summiting peaks – it’s about the journey. And that journey has been extraordinary for Tommy Caldwell, the household free solo climbing name.

In 2000, he and his partner Doug Chabot became the first climbers to free climb El Capitan’s Nose in a single day. This was no small feat – the Nose is one of the world’s most iconic and challenging routes.

But Caldwell’s journey began in 1991 when he was just 21. That’s when he was taken hostage by Islamic militants while climbing in Kyrgyzstan. He spent six days in captivity before being released unharmed.

Just a few years later, Caldwell was back to climbing outdoors – and pushing the boundaries even further. In 1999, he completed the first free ascent of The Shining Wall in Yosemite National Park. And in 2014, he made history again by being the first person to free climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan – a feat that took him 19 days to complete.

Caldwell is considered one of the best rock climbers in the world. And his journey – from hostage to history-maker – is truly inspiring.

Lynn Hill – Rock Climbing Female GOAT

Lynn hill famous female rock climber

Lynn Hill undoubtedly altered the face of roped climbing in numerous ways, and she remains a prominent figure for many climbers today.

In the 1980s, with the creation of climbing competitions, indoor climbing gyms, the first sticky rubber-soled boots, and spandex clothing, the first-ever outdoor climbing gym, the climbing community went through an identity crisis. With it came a new breed of celebrities – and one name indeed climbed to the top – Lynn Hill.

The world’s most famous rock climber, Lynn Hill, is an American who started climbing at 14. She has made numerous first ascents and redpoints, including the first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Lynn was the big name in American competition climbing when it began in the 1980s and went on to win the Arco Rock Master contest five times, as well as other televised matches.

The use of artificial rock climbing walls to train for real-world climbing had begun to grow and introduce new, contentious techniques.

Rappelling in from the top of the cliff and hanging on routes to attempt complex moves until they were dialed in were both frowned upon by people. However, whether climbers liked it or not, it pushed them to rethink what was possible.

In 1993, she completed the first free ascent of the Directissima5.8 A2 on Moonlight Buttress in Utah’s Zion National Park. She has done numerous other first ascents, redpoints, and big wall-free climbs worldwide.

Her list of accomplishments is impressive. But what sets Lynn Hill apart is her passion for climbing – and her dedication to sharing that passion with others.

She’s written a book about her climbing experiences, “Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World,” and she continues to inspire experienced climbers and noobs of the sport to this day.

Catherine Destivelle

Catherine Destivelle is a French rock climber and mountaineer who was one of the first women to climb some of the most challenging routes in the world.

Born in 1966, Destivelle started climbing at the age of 14. She quickly developed a reputation as a gifted climber, and in 1988 she made history by becoming the first woman to climb the north face of the Eiger – one of the world’s most iconic and challenging climbs.

Destivelle’s ascent of the Eiger tested her skill and determination. She started up the 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) north face solo and summited after three days of climbing. But the real challenge came on the descent when she had to rappel down the face in whiteout conditions. It was a treacherous journey, but Destivelle made it down safely – and cemented her place in history.

In the years that followed, Destivelle continued to push the limits of what was possible for a woman in the world of rock climbing. She made numerous first ascents and red points, including the first women’s ascent of the Petit Dru in 1992. Destivelle’s accomplishments have inspired generations of female climbers. She’s truly a pioneer in the world of rock climbing.

Adam Ondra

Adam Ondra is a Czech rock climber who, at the age of just 22, was the first person to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9c (5.15d). Ondra started climbing at the age of six, and by the time he was 14, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 9a (5.14d).

In 2012, Ondra made history when he climbed the route known as Change – a 9c (5.15d) climb in Norway’s Flatanger Cave. It was the first time a climber had ever completed a route of that difficulty, cemented Ondra’s place as one of the world’s best climbers.

Ondra is widely considered to be the most vigorous climber in the world, and he continues to push the limits of what’s possible in rock climbing. In 2014, he completed the first ascent of La Dura Dura – a 9b+ (5.15c) climb in Spain.

It was the most challenging route in the world then, and it took Ondra nearly two years to complete.

Ondra is still just 26 years old and shows no signs of slowing down.

He continues climbing some of the world’s most challenging routes and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Chris Sharma

Chris Sharma is another outstanding climber from America who, at the age of just 20, was the first person to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9b (5.15b). He completed the highest-graded climb in North America, then

Sharma started climbing at 11, and by the time he was 15, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 9a (5.14d). Then, in 2001, Sharma made history when he climbed the route known as Realization – a 9b (5.15b) climb in France’s Ceuse Gorge.

It was the first time a climber had ever completed a route of that difficulty, cemented Sharma’s place as one of the world’s best climbers.

Sharma is widely considered to be one of the strongest climbers in the world, and he continues to push the limits of what’s possible in rock climbing. In 2008, he completed the first ascent of Jumbo Love – a 9b+ (5.15c) climb in California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

It was the most challenging route in the world then, and it took Sharma nearly three years to complete.

Sasha DiGiulian

Sasha DiGiulian is an American rock climber who, at the age of 21, became the first North American woman to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9a (5.14d).

DiGiulian started climbing at the age of six, and by the time she was 15, she had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 8b+ (5.14a). Then, in 2011, DiGiulian made history when she climbed the route known as Pure Imagination – a 9a (5.14d) climb in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge.

It was the first time a North American woman had ever completed a route of that difficulty, cemented DiGiulian’s place as one of the world’s best climbers.

DiGiulian is widely considered to be one of the strongest female climbers in the world, and she continues to push the limits of what’s possible in rock climbing.

In 2013, she completed the first female ascent of the route known as Realization – a 9b (5.15b) climb in France’s Ceuse Gorge.

It was the most challenging route in the world at the time, and it took DiGiulian nearly two years to complete.

Margo Hayes

Margo Hayes is an American rock climber who, at the age of 19, became the first woman to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9a+ (5.15a) ad was utterly obsessed with the climbing lifestyle afterward. She only increased her climbing ability as the years went on.

Hayes started climbing at 11, and by the time she was 14, she had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 8c+ (5.14b). Impressive for a somewhat ‘amateur climber.’

In February of 2017, Hayes made history when she climbed the route known as La Rambla – a 9a+ (5.15a) climb in Spain’s Siurana Valley.

It was the first time a woman had ever completed a route of that difficulty, cemented Hayes’ place as one of the world’s best climbers.

In September 2017, she completed the first ascent of Biographie – a 9b (5.15b) climb in France’s Céüse Valley.

It was the most complicated route in the world then, and it took Hayes nearly two years to complete.

Hayden Kennedy

Hayden Kennedy is an American rock climber who, at the age of 27, became the first person to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9b (5.15b).

Kennedy started climbing at the age of 11, and by the time he was 15, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 8c+ (5.14b). Then, in October of 2012, Kennedy made history when he climbed the route known as Jumbo Love – a 9b (5.15b) climb in California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

Janja Garnbret – Rock Climbing World Champion

Janja Garnbret is a Slovenian know for her sport climbing. He has been climbing since she was eight years old. In 2014, at age 16, she became the European Youth Champion in lead climbing.

She is currently the reigning World Champion in both lead and bouldering, making her one of the most accomplished sports climbers.

In February of 2018, Garnbret made history when she climbed the route known as La Rambla – a 9a+ (5.15a) climb in Spain’s Siurana Valley.

Wolfgang Güllich

Wolfgang Güllich was a German rock climber who, in 1986, became the first person to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9a (5.14d) and has one of the most laidback climbing styles you will have ever seen.

Güllich started climbing at 14, and by the time he was 18, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 8c+ (5.14b).

In September of 1986, Güllich made history when he climbed the route known as Action Directe – a 9a (5.14d) climb in Germany’s Frankenjura Valley.

Güllich continued to push the limits of what was possible in rock climbing, and in 1991 he completed the first ascent of the route known as Wallstreet – a 9b (5.15b) climb in Germany’s Frankenjura Valley.

Wolfgang was also the climbing double for Sylvester Stallone in the 1993 movie Cliffhanger. In the movie, Stallone plays a character forced to climb a cliff after being stranded on a ledge.

While Stallone did some of the climbing himself, the most difficult scenes were completed by Güllich.

Ashima Shiraishi

At 10, Ashima Shiraishi became the youngest person ever to climb a V13 boulder problem. That’s an astonishing accomplishment by any standard. Still, it becomes all the more impressive when most climbers don’t achieve mastery until their late 20s or early 30s.

Shiraishi, now 17, has continues to impress the climbing world with her skills, becoming the first female climber to send a 9a (5.15a) route. She is widely considered one of the best female rock climbers in the world.

Peter Croft

Peter Croft is an American rock climber who, in the early 1980s, became the first person to free solo (climb without ropes or any other protection) specific routes in Yosemite Valley that had previously been considered unclimbable when free soloing.

Croft started climbing at 16, and by the time he was 20, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 5.11c.

In June of 1983, Croft made history when he free-soloed the route known as Astroman – a 5.11c climb in Yosemite Valley.

Croft’s ascent of Astroman was the first time a person had free-soloed a route of that difficulty in Yosemite Valley.

Today, Croft is still considered one of the best climbers in the world, and his accomplishments continue to inspire others to push their limits.

Brooke Raboutou

Brooke Raboutou is an American rock climber who, at the age of 10, became the youngest person to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 5.13a.

Raboutou started climbing at age 3, and by the time she was 9, she had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 5.12c.

In August of 1992, Raboutou made history when she climbed the route known as Cobra Crack – a 5.13a climb in Canada’s Squamish Valley.

Raboutou’s ascent of Cobra Crack was the youngest person to climb a route of that difficulty at the time.

Raboutou continues to climb at an elite level and has her sights set on becoming the first person to free solo El Capitan – a 3,000-foot tall rock formation in Yosemite Valley.

Tomoa Narasaki

Tomoa Narasaki is a Japanese rock climber who, in 2016, became the first person to win both the Lead Climbing World Championships (aka IFSC World Championships) and the Bouldering World Cup (IFSC Bouldering World Cup) in the same year.

Narasaki started climbing at the age of 7, and by the time he was 13, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 7c+ (5.13a).

In 2016, Narasaki made history when he won the Lead World Cup – a climbing competition with multiple routes of increasing difficulty.

Narasaki’s victory was all the more impressive because he became the first person to win the Lead World Cup while also winning the Bouldering World Cup. This separate climbing competition consists of multiple boulder problems of increasing difficulty.

Stefano Ghisolfi

Stefano Ghisolfi is an Italian rock climber who, in 2015, became the first person to climb a route with a difficulty rating of 9b+ (5.15c).

Ghisolfi started climbing at age 8, and by the time he was 15, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 8c+ (5.14b).

In 2015, Ghisolfi made history when he climbed the route known as La Dura Dura – a 9b+ (5.15c) climb in Spain’s Oliana region.

Ghisolfi’s ascent of La Dura Dura was the first time a person had climbed a route of that difficulty.

Ghisolfi continues to climb at an elite level and is considered one of the best climbers in the world.

Shauna Coxsey

Shauna Coxsey is a British rock climber who, in 2016, became the first person to win the Lead World Cup three times.

Coxsey started climbing at age 11, and by the time she was 16, she had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 7b+ (5.12a).

In 2016, Coxsey made history when she won the Lead World Cup – a climbing competition with multiple routes of increasing difficulty.

Coxsey’s victory was all the more impressive because it was her third Lead World Cup win – making her the first person to win the competition three times.

Dean Potter

Dean Potter was an American rock climber who, during his career, made several first ascents – meaning he was the first person to climb a particular route.

Potter started climbing at 14, and by the time he was 20, he had already climbed routes with a difficulty rating of 5.12c.

In 1993, Potter made history when he climbed the route known as The Nose – a rock formation in Yosemite Valley. Potter’s ascent of The Nose was the first time a person had free-soloed a route of that difficulty in Yosemite Valley.

Potter continued to push the limits of what was possible in rock climbing, and in 2000, he made the first free solo ascent of the route known as El Capitan – a rock formation in Yosemite Valley.

Potter’s ascent of El Capitan was the first time a person had free soloed a route of that difficulty in Yosemite Valley.

Jim Bridwell

Jim Bridwell, nicknamed “Big Jim,” was one of his generation’s most famous and influential American climbers. He made the first ascents of many big walls in Yosemite, including El Capitan and Half Dome.

He also did the first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan – a feat that had never been attempted before.

Bridwell’s career spanned two different eras of climbing history. He started climbing in the 1950s – when climbers began tackling big walls like El Capitan.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Bridwell was part of a group of climbers known as the “Golden Age” climbers who pushed the limits of what was possible in rock climbing.

His climbing career was not without incident – he was arrested for stealing food from a ranger station. He was also involved in another climber’s highly publicized rescue attempt, which ended in tragedy.

But his larger-than-life personality and willingness to take on significant risks made him one of the most famous rock climbers in the world.

FAQ – The World’s Most Famous Rock Climbers

Who’s the most famous and best rock climber?

Alex Honnold.

What climbing gear do rock climbers use?

Rock climbers typically use a harness, rope, and belay to climb. They may also use other gear such as chalk, shoes, and protection devices.

What do rock climbers do?

Rock climbing involves climbing through artificial rock walls and natural rock formations. The goal should be reached at the formation’s peak or its point at a preset course without falling.

What do you call people who rock climb?

Climbers.

How much do rock climbers make a year?

The highest-paid climbing professionals are worth about $300,000. The average salary for a professional climber is about $25,000. The salary ranges for climbers vary significantly depending on why they climb.

What is slab climbing?

Slab climbing is a type of rock climbing that involves climbing up steep, smooth surfaces. This type of climbing can be complicated and requires a lot of strength and endurance.

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