Rock climbing is a discipline that takes nerves of steel, and when we look at masters in the field, it is hard to believe that they are even human. Some of the best rock climbers in the world make it seem as if they can shut off their fears and doubts in an instant, and resort to machine-like calm.
Of course, you won’t make it far on some of the world’s most dangerous climbs unless you are cool and collected, so famous rock climbers tend to be a cut above the rest of us. Bear with us as we go over our list of the best rock climbers in history, starting with a veritable legend…
Arguably the most famous climber alive today, Alex Honnold is the only person to have free-solo climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. That particular ascent of El Capitan is also the subject of a National Geographic special detailing the entire ordeal from start to finish.
Honnold has been awarded the Golden Piton for his excellent climbing talent, and he is widely regarded as America's most celebrated rock climber by many. He also jointly held the record for the fastest ascent of El Capitan. On top of his accomplishments, Honnold is only 32 years old.
Destivelle, an Algerian-French climber, is widely seen as one of the most proficient female climbers in the world. She is credited with ascending the most dangerous route ever attempted by a woman (13c at Chouca at Boux), along with a range of other accomplishments that are not to be overlooked.
Being such a skilled climber, Destivelle is knowledgeable in subjects such as risk assessment, and she is a proficient public speaker who even helps corporations manage risk against reward. If there were a title to grant to the world's most versatile climber, it would very likely end up going to her.
While we have gone over some of the best rock climbers, including the best free climber in the world, what about the most proficient boulderer? Dave Graham takes this title, as he is willing to take risks that no other climber can stomach. Graham has also recently crossed over into mountain climbing.
Most of the time, proficient boulderers don't have skill sets that smoothly transition to rock climbing, but Dave Graham's excessive training greatly eased that shift. He has already climbed The Fly in Rumney, and he is looking forward to making many more full-fledged climbs.
Caldwell is as much of a national treasure for Americans as many of the climbs he has completed. Perhaps best known for his story in which he and three other climbers (including his then-wife, renowned climber Beth Rodden) were taken hostage when climbing in Kyrgyzstan.
In an act of heroism, Caldwell pushed one of the hostage-takers off of a cliff, and the group managed to elude them. This story goes to show that there are more dangers in climbing than you may expect! Calwell has also completed The Nose, Kryptonite & Flex Luthor, and much more.
If you haven't heard of John Long, then you haven't been climbing for enough time. Long is one of the best-known climbers in the world, and he has sold millions of books. This climber is one of the reasons why an entire generation of like-minded people decided to pursue their dreams and begin climbing.
Aside from being the catalyst for many athletes to begin climbing, Long has many of his own impressive accomplishments. Perhaps the most memorable project with which he was involved was the Sylvester Stallone action film “Cliffhanger,” which is a cheesy, yet beloved classic.
If you don't know his name, you may have heard Robert referred to by his nickname; "The French Spiderman." It isn't just a nickname. This climber is renowned for free climbing the tallest humanmade structures in the world, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and so much more.
You may be wondering how exactly Robert gets authorization to climb many of these structures, and there is a simple answer to that question; he doesn’t. For this reason, Robert has to often arrive early on in the morning when there is no one to catch him mounting the building for his climb. Robert is up there with the best free climbers.
Jorgeson's most impressive accomplishment was done with Tommy Caldwell when the two scaled the Dawn Wall at El Capitan for the first time. This was a climb that many observers thought impossible until the pair proved them wrong, and made their way up in a grueling ascent.
Kevin Jorgeson is a highly prolific climber who has been traveling around the world attempting different climbs since his headline-catching ascent with Caldwell. He also runs a charity in Greece that collects money to help with the influx of refugees from Syria and other countries.
Last but not least, Steph Davis is seen as one of the most proficient free-solo climbers in the world, and with good reason. Her list of accomplishments stretches longer than that of nearly any other climber in the world. For starters, she was the first woman to climb the Salathė Wall of El Capitan.
Davis was also the second woman to free climb El Capitan in the span of a single day, showing that she is capable of both speed and excellent technique. Her story is an inspirational one, as she lived in her car for years before earning a sponsorship and becoming the successful climber she is today.
As you can see, there are many impressive climbers, each of whom specializes in varying disciplines. We hope that this list has been comprehensive enough to satiate your curiosity. Feel free to provide your thoughts down in the comments section. Stay safe out there and happy climbing!