Chris Sharma, one of the greatest climbers of all time


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This biography of Chris Sharma is part of Escalation ongoing biographical study of the Who’s Who of the big names in rock climbing, the best and, in the case of Aleister Crowley and Leni Rienfenstahl, its most notorious and disreputable. See the links below for more.

Chris Sharma (April 23, 1981) is an American climber considered one of the most talented and influential climbers of all time. Sharma is primarily known for his ascents in hard sport and bouldering, although he also had a successful career in competition, including winning the US National Bouldering Championships (in the Adult/Open category) at the age of 14. year.

Sharma was both the first climber to climb a consensus rated 5.15a (Biography/Achievement) and the first to send 5.15b (giant love). Additionally, he was the second person to climb 5.15c (The hard hard) following Adam Ondra, with whom he planned the route. Sharma is also a pioneer of deep water solo (psicobloc), and is well known for his humility and “meditative” approach to climbing.

For the better part of two decades, Sharma was the penultimate figure in rock climbing, not just in the United States, but around the world.

Chris Sharma in the classic “King Lines”, the Reel Rock Movie Tour.

Early life

Born Chris Omprakash Sharma in Santa Cruz, California, Sharma was raised by devotees of Indian yoga master Ashtanga Baba Hari Dass. Her parents, Bob and Gita Jahn, adopted the surname Sharma when they married.

Sharma started climbing at the age of 12, after visiting Pacific Edge climbing gym with her mother. By age 14 he had stepped into the national spotlight, beating all adult competitors to win the US Open Bouldering Nationals in 1996. The following year he sent North America’s toughest climb, Necessarily wrong (5.14c), at Virgin River Gorge. He then moved to Bishop, California to focus on climbing full time. There, at the age of 18, he climbed The Mandala (V12), a problem that has since become a world famous test piece for hard boulderers.

Sharma won a number of competitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including a bouldering gold medal at the 1999 X Games, as well as first-place finishes at the bouldering World Cup. IFSC Munich (2001) and the American Bouldering Series National Championships. (2004).

Chris Sharma: A Life of Climbing

Biography and push note 5.15

In 2001, Sharma made the first ascent of the line Biography (5.15a), in Céüse, France, at the age of 20. As the line was bolted and named by Jean-Christophe LaFaille in 1989, and first half liberated by Arnaud Petit in 1996, Sharma was the first to liberate the full 115ft route, christening it Realization. (By American standards at the time, the first climber, not the climber who bolted the line, named the route).

Sharma did not review the route himself, but Biography / Achievement eventually became the world’s first consensus-rated 5.15a. (That said, the rise of Alexander Huber in 1996 Open air, then considered a 5.14d route but reclassified by Adam Ondra in 2008 to 5.15a, arguably holds the title of the first true 5.15 dispatch).

Over the next few years, Sharma implemented many 5.15+ routes and became the first person to redpoint 5.15b, with giant love at Clark Mountain in the Mojave Desert. He also set up several hard rocks, such as nature practice (V15) at Magic Wood, Switzerland, and Evidence of physical fitness (V15) in the Ozarks. To date, Sharma has completed more than a dozen 5.15a and harder first ascents. He also did the first rehearsal of The hard hard (5.15c) in Oliana, Spain, following its ascent by Adam Ondra, with whom Sharma worked on the line. The 160ft limestone route was the first 5.15c in the world.

"Chris Sharma was working Dreamcatcher, before sending it a few weeks later, in July 2005 during the Petzl RocTrip, Squamish, BC.  Photo by Luke Laeser"
“Chris Sharma working Dreamcatcher, before sending it off several weeks later, in July 2005 on the Petzl RocTrip, Squamish, BC. Photo by Luke Laeser”

Solo in deep water

In addition to his hard sport and bouldering send-offs, Sharma is known for pioneering the discipline of Deep Water Soloing (DWS), where climbers ascend unprotected routes over bodies of water, landing ideally safe in the water in the event of a fall.

While deep-water soloing began in Mallorca in the late 1970s, Sharma took the sport to a new level with his 2006 dispatch of Es Pontas (5.15a), ascending the belly of a spectacular natural rock arch above the ocean. The route was the toughest DWS route in the world at the time.

Sharma also completed Alasha (5.15b) in 2016, again the most difficult course in the history of the discipline. He also hosted (and won) the world’s first DWS competition, Psicobloc Masters Series, in Bilbao, Spain, in 2010, and has remained a leading deep-sea soloist in the years since.

Why Chris Sharma never gets angry (well, maybe a little sometimes)

Gymnasium ownership, marriage, and later life

Sharma is the founder of Sender One climbing gym in Santa Ana, California, which he opened in 2013 in partnership with Walltopia, one of his sponsors. In 2015 he opened a second room, Sharma Climbing BCN, in Barcelona, ​​and in 2021 he opened a third room, Sharma Climbing Gava, in the outskirts of Barcelona.

In August 2015, he married fiancée Jimena Alarcón. The couple previously lived in Oliana, Spain, but now have a home in Barcelona. They welcomed their first child, Alana, in 2016.

Notable climbs

  • Necessarily wrong (5.14c), Virgin River Gorge, Utah. First ascent (1997).
  • The Mandala (V12), Bishop, CA. First ascent (2000).
  • Realization / Biography (5.15a), Céüse, France. First ascent 5.15a in the world (2001).
  • Evidence of physical fitness (V15), Ozarks, Arkansas. First ascent (2004).
  • nature practice (V15), Magic Wood, Switzerland. First ascent (2005).
  • Es Pontas (5.15a), Majorca, Spain. World’s first DWS 5.15a ascent (2007).
  • Papichulo (5.15a), Oliana, Spain. First ascent (2008).
  • giant love (5.15b), Mojave National Preserve, California. First ascent 5.15b in the world (2008).
  • Gulf of Estado (5.15b), Siurana, Spain. First ascent (2008).
  • Demencia Senil (5.15a), Margalef, Spain. First ascent (2009).
  • Neanderthal (5.15b), Santa Linya, Spain. First ascent (2009).
  • Pachamama (5.15a), Oliana, Spain. First ascent (2009).
  • First Ley (5.15a), Margalef, Spain. First ascent (2010).
  • Inverter (5.15a), Oliana, Spain. First ascent (2010).
  • Catxasa (5.15a), Santa Linya, Spain. First ascent (2011).
  • First round First minute (5.15b), Margalef, Spain. First ascent (2011).
  • fight or flight (5.15b), Oliana, Spain. First ascent (2011).
  • Stoke the fire (5.15b), Santa Linya, Spain. First ascent (2013).
  • The hard hard (5.15c), Oliana, Spain. Second ascent (2013).
  • El Good Fight (5.15b/c), Barcelona, ​​Spain. First ascent (2015).
  • Catalan Witness to Physical Fitness (V14), Barcelona, ​​Spain. First ascent (2016).
  • Alasha (5.15b), Majorca, Spain. World’s first DWS 5.15b ascent (2016).

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