Climbing was first popularized in the 1950s and 1960s and is now a popular every day sport for all kinds of people.
To define who the best climbers in the world are is exceedingly difficult, as the sport has so many styles and ways to go about it,
you are never really comparing apples with apples because every climber is so different in what he or she wants to achieve and gain from the sport.
The list of climbers is based on their accolades over their whole careers and where relevant, their own personal achievements that took the world by storm (i.e. non-competitive based achievements) and of course,
as mentioned previously, has no particular ranking and is challenging to choose one climber over another.
Born: February 5, 1993
Birthplace: Brno, Czech Republic
Specialty: Competitive Climbing/ Bouldering
Famous For: Silence in Flatanger, Norway – hardest-ever free climb route Grade 9c
When creating a list of the best climbers, it is a necessity to include the force of nature that is Adam Ondra.
The amount of accolades this anomaly amongst climbers is a true talent and will probably continue to be one of the most famed climbers in history for his innate climbing skills and achievements over his career.
If you are not convinced, Adam Ondra has a unique ability to conserve energy and manage his breathing, which includes the strange phenomenon of shouting from the rocks mid-climb.
This means that his pulse rate actually goes down when he climbs. As he moves up the wall of a mountain or climbing wall, he is intuitive and analytical in his movements.
His height of 190 cm is also out of the ordinary and while many may see this as a disadvantage, his long neck acts as a counterbalance,
and although he claims to not have much arm strength in comparison to other climbers out there,
he has a lot of mobility in his hips which allows him to put more weight in his legs and pull his center of gravity closer to his head which saves energy and power.
Some of his accomplishments include climbing 5.15c (9b+), his climbing grades, ascending La Dura Dura along with being the only climber to ascend multiple 5.15c route on La Dura Dura.
He is the only climber to send 5.15d (9c) with Silence, the first to flash a V14 boulder problem, second ascent of the Dawn Wall 5.14d – which is the most challenging big wall climb in the world.
Miraculously, he was also the first person to win a boulder and lead the world championship in climbing in the same year.
Adam Ondra has made the most 5.15 ascents in the entire history of climbing and has 14 gold medals and 4 gold medals out of 20 lead World Cup medals and 12 bouldering World Cup medals, respectively.
He also sent the Belly Full of Bad Berries, which is an insanely difficult off-width climb on only his second attempt on it – a clear natural talent for the sport of climbing.
These accomplishments, however, are just the most recent achievements that he has under his belt,
and he has continued to be the best at every single facet of climbing, and he is well-rounded- from boulder problems to the most challenging sport climbs;
he can do anything, and he can do anything well. It is no wonder that he is so accomplished, having been challenging himself to do these near impossible ascends from the age of 11.
When looking at him, it is not obvious that he holds within him so much talent and skill. He says himself that there are climbers out there that are much stronger than him in terms of finger strength and explosive style.
But what he lacks in strength and style, he makes up for in technique and intelligent strategic movements while ascending a climb,
coupled with excellent foot work and just cold-cut perseverance and grit.
Born: March 12, 1999
Birthplace: Šmartno pri Slovenj Gradcu, Slovenia
Famous For: Going an entire IFSC Bouldering World Cup season undefeated (2019)
From her younger years, it was obvious that Janja Garnbredt was born for bouldering and when it comes to competitive climbing, she too is a force to be reckoned with and completely and utterly dominates the field.
She is the only person in the history of climbing to take the trophy in every single event of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) in 2019- a total clean sweep, and took the sport’s first gold medal from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
To add to theat, since she was 16, she has competed in over 30 Lead World Cup events and only missed the podium a handful of times;
the rest of the time, she has received mostly gold medals in World Cup level bouldering events. If that is not enough,
she also took home the title of being only the second person ever to win a bouldering and lead the world cup in the same year, as well as her above accomplishments.
She is strong and taught in her physique and has athletic stamina like no one else in the field. If she is up against you in a competition, just know that she will take the gold. No doubt about it.
She is a great all-rounder, but only lacks in outdoor climbing experience. Having said that,
however, she is the best competition climber and has seriously impressive accomplishments to write home about including the fact that she has two 5.14d (9a) ascents,
one 5.13d (8b) flash and will, no doubt, be in the 5.15 climbing grade category very soon-watch this space for Janja to totally take over this sport.
Born: August 12, 1993
Birthplace: Erlangen, Germany
Specialty: Bouldering/ Lead climbing
Famous For: Being the first climber to onsight 9a (5.14d) and the third to redpoint 9b+ (5.15c)
A climber since age 6, there is little that Alex Megos cannot accomplish in terms of rock climbing. Known as Adam Ondra’s closest rival,
Alex Megos is one of the best outdoor climbers around and he was the first person to climb a route graded 5.14d (9a) on-sight,
which means that he made the climb without any prior practice or advice. He has also been recognized as the third person to climb a 5.15c (9b+) route,
with the first of his ascents being Perfect Mundo which is a notoriously difficult climb.
Alex Megos does not stop there and has climbed over 25 hundred graded routes-which is extremely impressive. Notably,
he has completed a bucket load of challenging boulder ascents in the V14-V16 range. In terms of formal competition, when he has competed in the world cup,
he has received a medal every time. Although, he has not competed that often. He qualified and ranked 9th, 14th and 19th in Lead, Bouldering and Speed for the 2021 Olympic Games held in Tokyo.
Megos has a compact frame and coupled with his great strength and acumen for lead climbing, he is a definite contender as being one of the best of the best climbers in the world.
Born: April 3, 2001
Birthplace: New York, USA
Famous For: Open Your Mind Direct and Ciudad de Dios in Santa Linya, Spain – the youngest ascent of a Grade 9a/9a+ route (2015)
Known for being in the Reel Rock film Young Guns, the new kid on the block, Ashima Shiraishi is an up-and-comer not to be missed.
She started climbing at age seven on the boulders in Central Park in New York City and has been doing it ever since.
She is one of the youngest climbers on this list and considering her career has barely started, she is super impressive.
Although she is still so young and lacks competition experience, she has competed in the USA open championships,
during which she won the bouldering segment and placed second in the lead segment. Ashima Shiraishi also competed against the renowned Olympic climber Brooke Raboutou,
whom Shiraishi beat – proving to the world that she is not to be overlooked, even though she didn’t qualify for the most recent Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Coupled with her intense gym routine and mind-focussing techniques, she has a lot of strength because of her low center of gravity, and also claims the key to her success is to have fun while climbing.
Although her competition experience is limited, her sweet spot is outdoor climbing and is the youngest person to climb a 5.14d and 5.15a graded climb,
also the second female to do so. Ashima Shiraishi is no stranger to difficult climbs and boasts two V15, three V14 and a V12 flash to her name.
She is flexible and creative and has incredible finger strength for such a small framed person. Watch this space for more exciting progressions in this climber’s career-you will not be disappointed!
Born: June 22, 1996
Birthplace: Utsunomiya, Japan
Specialty: Sport/ Bouldering
Famous For: Multiple World Cup winner and World Champion
Tomoa Narasaki started climbing at the ripe old age of ten years old in a friend of his, Sachi Amma’s family gym.
Tomao Narasaki is a fierce indoor climbing competitor and in 2016 won both the Bouldering World Championship and Bouldering World Cup.
then, three years later, he won the Bouldering World Cup again and after winning gold at the International Federation of Sport Climbing Climbing World Championships in 2019, he was able to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Additionally, Narasaki holds the Japanese record for speed climbing with an insane time of 5.73 seconds and he is credited with creating the “Tomoa skip” which is a technique in speed climbing that bypasses lower holds on the speed climbing course.
This patented technique bolsters his explosive style of climbing and has allowed him to win 20 World Cup Medals over a period of 5 years. In Hachioji, in 2019,
Narasaki took the crowning glory at the IFSC world championships, beating Jakob Schubert and Rishat Khaibullin.
When competing in the men’s combined climbing at the Olypics, he placed 4th, falling short of placing third, by one point to Jakob Schubert but still beating Adam Ondra and Rishat Khaibullin.
The way Narasaki reads routes is unrivalled and this, paired with his brute strength and explosive and cat-like style, it is obvious why he was included on this list.
Born: December 31, 1990
Birthplace: Innsbruck, Austria
Famous For: Three times World Cup winner (2011, 2014, 2018) and three times World Champion (2012, 2018, 2021) in Lead climbing
Jakob Schubert started to climb when he was twelve years old and went on to participate in the European Youth Cup and World Youth Championships and since 2007 has participated regularly in the World Cup for lead climbing as well as bouldering.
This long term climbing icon won the Lead World Cup in 2011 which was done by winning seven consecutive competitions in one season. No one ever has won as many World Cup competitions in a single season.
A few years later, in 2018, he was back with a winning streak and became World Champion onse again and by 2019,
this standout performance was not stopping-his stellar performance in the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships took him to qualify and place third in the Tokyo Olympics.
On top of that, he became the 5th person to climb the 5.15c (9b+) ascent of Perfecto Mundo and before that, he also performed a 5.15d (8a) on-sight.
Schubert is probably the most consistent climber on the list and has been winning and keeping on peak performance for many years, never backing down from a challenge, since his teen years and is not stopping any time soon.
Birthplace: Draguignan, France
Famous For: Ascent of Chilam Balam (9b) and Mamichula (9b) as well as Move (9b+)
Although not well-known amongst the masses, Sebastien Bouin has been climbing since the age of 12 and has a real passion for the sport of climbing.
Although he has never competed in any indoor climbing competitions like his counterparts on this list, he has got a lot of experience under his belt and is known in the industry as the Undercover Crusher.
This name came about because of his lack of interest in the competitive sport and sole purpose of finding the most challenging single-pitch routes and crushing them.
However, he has confessed that he is not solely focused on climbing routes that have hard grades-he is deeply passionate about the sport and has gone on a journey to repeat some of the most beautiful and reputable routes that can be completed, regardless of their difficulty.
Bouin came onto the scene by being the third person to ever have ascedned Chilam Balam 5.15b (9b) but shortly after that went incognito for a while and came back in 2019 with a bang when he completed seven routes that were a 5.15a or above.
These routes included the first ever repeat of the Mamichula route 5.15b (9b) described by the legendary Adam Ondra as being “hard”.
He also completed another first repeat of the Move which is a 5.15b/c (9b+) and the first ascents of Dream and La Rage D’Adam.
Bouin is unique in that he has a tenacity and perseverance like no other and despite not having any formal accolades,
he is seriously accomplished in what he has tackled so far, with an innate bravery that a lot of (even professional) competitor climbers do not have.
Born: September 21, 1995
Birthplace: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Specialty: Speed Climbing
Famous For: Bronze in the IFSC Climbing World Championships
Although speed climbing is not recognized as part of the sport of climbing by a lot of climbing purists out there, the talent that is Rishat Khaibullin should not go unnoticed and this is why he is included on this list.
What is important to note is that Khaibullin is not just a speed climber. In fact, he is a sport climber who is just exceptionally good at speed climbing.
His father is a traditional mountaineer, and so to say climbing is in his blood is an understatement. He is a all-rounder climber and performs climbs at exceptional speeds.
He is short and compact in stature and because of his roots in the sport, has a great ability to read routes and has incredible strength,
specifically in his fingers. All these factors allow him to participate in all disciplines of the sport well, and although he is still learning the finesse of competitive bouldering and indoor climbing,
he placed third in the IFSC World Championship which allowed him to qualify in the Tokyo Olympics where he placed 11th overall.
Additionally, he doesn’t have many accolades to his name, but he is one of the best speed climbers out there,
and he has a personal best time that is only 0.4 seconds shy of the world record, so he comes across as a bit of a dark horse in the sport.
Born: February 18, 1993
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Specialty: Lead Climbing/ Bouldering
Famous For: Fourth climber in history to redpoint a 9b+ (5.15c) route
Stefano Ghisolfi participates in all three disciplines of the climbing sport, namely, Lead, Bouldering and Speed climbing.
He obtains the best results in Lead climbing and has climbed Perfecto Mundo, a 5.15c (9b+) route, being only one of four people to do so. He has quite the list of accomplishments,
even though he is a bit lacking on the competition scene.
Not only that, but he has climbed over 11 other 5.15 routes and has completed the Fish Eye route 5.14b (8c) on-sight and sending over five V14 (8b) bouldering routes.
He also has famously climbed Bibliographie 5.15d (9c) making him the third ever, after Adam Ondra and Alex Megos. After climbing the route,
he successfully got the route bumped up to a 9b+ range instead. This means that he is second only to Adam Ondra in terms of accomplishments.
Although he has a few World Cup Medals under his belt, he did not qualify for the Tokyo Olympics but he remains true to the outdoor climbing scene and remains one of the best climbers we will see in this generation.
Born: January 27, 1993
Birthplace: Runcorn, Cheshire, England
Famous For: Two Time Bouldering World Cup Winner in 2016 and 2017
Shauna Coxsey started her interest in climbing at age 4 and has since become a household name as a bouldering specialist and Olympian.
She is the most successful climber in the UK and has participated in many competitions including the British Bouldering Championships which she won five times.
When she was 20 years old, she climbed her first V13 boulder problem and by the time she was 21 became the third woman to ever climb a V14 (8b) with her climb of New Baseline.
In 2019, she placed third at the IFSC which allowed her to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, in which she ranked 10th.
In terms of speed climbing, she has set the British women’s speed climbing record of 9.141 seconds.
She has since retired from the competitive scene but will always be known for her strength and intensity in performing climbs.
Coxsey is a generational leader in bouldering and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to climbing and will no doubt continue to participate in the sport for the rest of her life, even if not in a competitive sense.
Of course, there are many other climbers who have accomplished a lot in their climbing careers, and so here is a list of special or notable people in the climbing world:
- Chris Sharma-known for the hardest deep-water solo ascents of Es Pontàs/Alasha in Mallorca, Spain and La Dura Dura in Oliana, Spain, the hardest free climb in the world.
- Alex Honnold– made famous through the Netflix documentary of the first ever free solo ascent of El Capitan, Freerider in Yosemite, USA.
- Alain Robert-first ascent of the world’s tallest building in Burj Kalifa in Dubai.
- Sasha DiGiulian– first female to ascent Mora Mora in Madagascar and second ever to do this as a free ascent.
- Daniel Woods– first climb of the world’s most challenging consensus boulder problem; the Creature of the Black Lagoon in the Rocky Mountain, USA
- Tommy Caldwell – completed the first free climb of the Dawn Wall on the El Capitan in Yosemite USA
- Angy Eiter – famed for completing the La Planta de Shiva in Villanueva del Rosario, Spain.
- Jim Reynolds-known for completing the first free solo ascent and descent of Afanassieff on Cerro Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Argentina.
The End Of The Line
There you have it, a complete list of some of the best and most notable climbers in the world right now. Of course, these accolades and accomplishments are subject to change but were accurate at the time of writing.