2013 was a banner year for the world of climbing. Records were broken, history was made (more than once) and new levels were reached in a sport that hinges on progression. But to whittle down all the great accomplishments of the year into one Top Ten list is difficult to say the least. However, here are ten achievements, from all disciplines of the sport, that helped push climbing further into the future. Don't hesitate to use the Reader's Commentary option below the article to add any ascents you also feel are worth a mention.
10. Muriel Sarkany Becomes Fourth Woman to Climb 5.14d
The 39-year-old Belgian competition crusher Muriel Sarkany made history this past November when she redpointed Punt X in France's Gorge du Loup. Sarkany won 75 UIAA and IFSC World Cup lead titles (and this doesn't include World Championships and Arco Rock Masters) during her competition years, making her one of the most successful competition climbers of all time. Sarkany quit competing in 2010, and has since focused on hard outdoor sport routes, and now she has reached the penultimate level of the discipline by sending 9a (5.14d).
""It is a dream which becomes reality! To make one 9a, I dreamed about it and I did not think that it would become true one day."
Check out this cool video profile of Sarkany made by Joe Kinder.
Climbing Obsession with Muriel Sarkany – presented by Sterling Rope from sterling rope on Vimeo.
9. Jimmy Webb Dominates Bouldering
With multiple V14 flashes in South Africa, two V15 first ascents, a 30 minute V15 repeat, and two MAJOR competition wins (Psicobloc and La Sportiva Legends Only), Jimmy Webb has redefined what it means to be strong. Yet perhaps even more impressive than his ticklist is his ability to remain modest about his next-level achievements. Webb is constantly downplaying his ascents and only recently considered his Wheel of Wolvo as the first "true" V15 he had ever completed.
"Comparing The Wheel to my other ascents ... I do see it as a step up," Webb told Rock and Ice.
Check out Jimmy Webb pulling down testpiece after testpiece in Rocklands, South Africa ... first try!
First try in Rocklands from Jimmy Webb on Vimeo.
8. America Hosts First Psicobloc Comp
When the news hit in early June that Chris Sharma was organizing America's first Psicobloc (Deep Water Soloing) competition, climbers got stoked. And on August 3, when a star-studded crew including Tommy Caldwell, Sasha DiGiulian and Dave Graham showed up in Park City, Utah, to throw down on a 50-foot wall overhanging the Olympic Center's diving pool, roughly 3,000 rowdy people were in attendance. The Psicobloc comp was likely the most successful climbing competition in American history.
Click HERE to read the Psicobloc report and don't miss THIS awesome Rock and Ice photo gallery of the competition.
7. Sasha DiGiulian Sends Bellavista (5.14b)
The climbing world was already well aware that 21-year-old Sasha DiGiulian was one of, if not the best, female sport climbers in the world. However, when DiGiulian made quick work of Alex Huber's Dolomite multi-pitch testpiece Bellavista (5.14b) in August, she proved that her past accomplishments of high-end, single-pitch sport-climbs were only a hint at the full breadth of her potential.
Click HERE to read Sasha's latest article in Rock and Ice on how Americans can climb harder.
6. Kilian Jornet Breaks Mont Blanc Speed Record
The Spanish mountain mutant Kilian Jornet has established himself as the King when it comes to lightning quick ascents of big peaks. In July, Jornet blitzed up and down Mont Blanc in 4 hours and 57 minutes, breaking the previous 23-year-old record by more than 13 minutes.
5. Ashima Becomes Only Female to Climb V13 and 5.14c
For anyone who thought that the soft-spoken New York native Ashima Shiraishi had been slightly lucky when she climbed her first V13 boulder problems and Red River Gorge 5.14c's ... think again. In August, the 12-year-old Shiraishi climbed her fifth V13 by cranking The Automator, a notoriously stout Dave Graham problem in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. However, this was the young crusher's SECOND V13 of the month, having already taken down One Summer in Paradise in Magic Wood, Switzerland. Then on an October tour of Kentucky's Red River Gorge, Shiraishi polished off two 5.14c's in two days, making the first female ascent of 24 Karats and then clipping the chains on 50 Words for Pump the very next day.
Click HERE to read this Rock and Ice interview with Ashima Shiraishi.
4. Alex Megos Onsights 5.14d
Many people believed that Adam Ondra would become the first person to claim the coveted first 9a (5.14d) onsight. In fact, Ondra had already flashed and onsighted the grade at the Red River Gorge, only to downgrade the lines to 5.14c. So the true 9a onsight was still there for the taking .... until the end of March when Alex Megos shocked the climbing world by onsighting Estado Critico in Siurana, Spain. Then, just a few days after his historic onsight, he waltzed up La Rambla (5.15a) second try. He has since climbed V15 in Australia, established his own even harder link-up and also cranked the Oz's first 5.14d.
3. Tommy Caldwell Sends 5.14d ... On El Cap
The Dawn Wall got off to a rough start for 2013. First, the government shutdown delayed Caldwell and Jorgeson from even entering Yosemite Valley for nearly three weeks. And just as the climbers started to gain momentum on what will be the world's hardest big-wall free-climb--even recruiting Chris Sharma for their efforts--Caldwell suffered a brutal injury when a haul-bag took a 200-foot whipper onto the haul-loop of his harness. Yet Kevin Jorgeson decided to climb on, making headway on his own crux pitches, and Caldwell ... well he did exactly what he does best. He returned stronger than before to make another Classic Caldwell Comeback (CCC) and took pitch 15 of the Dawn Wall DOWN!
"I regret to inform anyone looking to climb the hardest pitch in Yosemite that now they have to get to the absolute middle of El Cap to make it happen," posted Caldwell via Facebook.
That's right. Yosemite's hardest piece of free-climbing is now 15 pitches up the steepest, blankest section of El Capitan, thanks to Tommy Caldwell.
2. Ueli Steck Solos Annapurna's South Face
It seemed like Ueli Steck's Himalayan days were over. In April, Steck, Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith were involved in a nasty brawl on Mount Everest. As a result, the "Swiss Machine" left the world's tallest mountain disenchanted. But by late September, Steck's urge to climb in the Himalayas was back. This time, however, he decided to go for an old project--Annapurna's South Face. Steck had previously attempted to climb Annapurna--the world's least summited 8,000-meter peak--on two previous trips, and both had ended poorly. But as they say, the third time is a charm, and on October 10, Steck sent a text message from Base Camp to his sponsors stating: "Summit, alone, South Face." Steck reached the summit of Annapurna (8,091 meters) in just 28 hours. BOOM!
Check out this video featuring footage of Steck's historic solo.
Ueli Steck - Annapurna South Face - Quick Edit from Nepal from Fenom Creative Group on Vimeo.
1. Adam Ondra and Chris Sharma Establish the World's Hardest Route
By the end of last winter, with 2013 moving closer and closer on the horizon, Adam Ondra and Chris Sharma were both making progress on La Dura Dura--a project at Oliana, Spain, that everyone knew would be the world's hardest sport-climb. The story unfolded as if it was written in classic literature--Chris Sharma, the 31-year-old American legend was now being eclipsed by the 21-year-old Czech wonderkid Adam Ondra. The "passing of the torch" seemed imminent. Yet Sharma was making big links, and it was his bolts and original vision that even made the project possible, so the belief that he would perhaps give the hardest route to the world again, just as he had done with Jumbo Love (5.15b) and Realization (5.15a), was still held in climbing's collective conscience. But in the end, it was Ondra who finally bridged the gap between the impossible and possible, and in early February he completed the vision and clipped the chains of La Dura Dura (5.15c)--ushering in a new level for the future. But the story didn't end there. On March 23, Sharma was back at the cliff, tying in for another burn on a project that he was still infatuated with, a project he had bolted, envisioned and had already seen mature into the hardest sport-climb on earth. And on that day, Sharma elevated his game just enough to claim the second ascent of La Dura Dura, proving once again that he is still capable of climbing the hardest route in the world.
“Maybe you’ll never be at your limit—you’ll always be climbing a little bit below it," said Chris Sharma in Andrew Bisharat's Rock and Ice article "Perfect Play". "But when I did it, that day I felt certain that I was capable of doing something harder.”