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The "best" climber in the world
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Dec 24, 2012
So there is a lot of talk about "the best" climber in the world. The name that normally comes up is Sharma. But is he, or Woods or Ondra, really the absolute best we have? I say no, and here is why. Although all three of those guys are among the best at what they do, there is also a lot they know nothing about. For example, I suspect none of them know anything about aid climbing or alpine.

I believe that the absolute best climber in the world is whoever is the top all-arounder. Someone who can climb 5.13 trad, 5.14 sport, V-hard bouldering, A4/5 aid, hard alpine and mix, someone who has climbed a few eight-thousanders, knows SAR and self-rescue, has an FA on a grade VII wall, has supreme technical knowledge, ect. Basically, whoever is the most experienced in all genres.

To be honest, I believe the media puts too much correlation with posting high numbers and being the "best". Although I have never climbed with any of the three guys named above, I have climbed with a number of other world-class climbers who are well known, and honestly, some of them suck. Sure, they climb hard as hell, but I look down while pulling the crux and they have a loop of slack on the deck, or they backclip a draw while climbing, or some other silly crap. I cannot possibly fathom how someone like that could be considered a top climber, no matter how hard they climb. So my opinion is that ability and knowledge are not necessarily two in the same in climbing. What do you think?
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
726 points
I always thought Alex Lowe was the best until he died.
Administrator
Dec 24, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
A lot of people will likely disagree with this, but the names Hayden Kennedy and Pat Goodman come to mind when considering your criteria. Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Joined Jul 30, 2011
1,141 points
Dec 24, 2012
One Way Sunset
I think Jeff Lowe said it best:

"The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun."

Edit:

I wrongly attributed this guote to Jeff Lowe. It was Alex Lowe who said:

The best climber in the world is the one that has the most fun.
Alex Lowe
Scott M. McNamara
From Tucson, Arizona
Joined Aug 15, 2006
77 points
Dec 24, 2012
After Alex Lowe, Dave MacLeod fits the bill, IMO. S. Neoh
Joined Oct 4, 2009
501 points



Alex was the guy that would come and save your ass, to me that is a key attribute for someone titled "the greatest".
Dec 24, 2012
Thats Me
messner... duh clay meier
Joined Dec 24, 2008
359 points
clay meier wrote:
messner... duh

ok you got me there...
Dec 24, 2012
My cool Elly....
Wolfgang GŁtlich..... Pitty
From Marbach
Joined Apr 27, 2011
68 points
Dec 24, 2012
Zermatt
Ueli Steck? J mac
Joined Oct 8, 2008
102 points
Dec 24, 2012
aid climbing is really just brave engineering. mountaineering is really just brave, steep snow walking, and even hard trad is just brave, but easier climbing. the "best" climber- implies climbing, not bravery or engineering skills, in the popular definition of climbing. asdrubal
From Rifle, CO
Joined Aug 11, 2008
8 points
Dec 24, 2012
Humboldt Bouldering
David Macleod

Established E11 grade which is like 5.14c r/x (on gear of course)

Bouldered V15

Has put up some of the hardest ice/mixed lines anywhere

........

If you're talking about the most well rounded climber then IMO Macleod is it.
Josh Kornish
From Eugene, OR
Joined Sep 16, 2009
572 points
Dec 24, 2012
Scott M. McNamara wrote:
I think Jeff Lowe said it best: "The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun."


Doug Coombs said to me once that "the best skier on the mountain is the one having the most fun"

Therefore according to Jeff Lowe, I am the best climber in the world, and according to Doug Coombs, I am the best skier in the world!!!
skiclimber
Joined Jul 18, 2006
39 points
Dec 24, 2012
David Lama. Not sure how close anyone is at the moment.

In the vein of Alex Lowe, who was rad, there have been a lot of guys over the years. Kevin Thaw, never thought to be "the best" because all arounders aren't usually the best at any one thing, nailed the above criteria climbing hard near the top end of sport, bouldering, trad and ice and then establishing/repeating some of the hardest aid and alpine routes in the world. He's also done okay at altitude. There are always a few like this. Alain Ghersen, Tomo Cesen (even with the controversies), and others since. Macloed is a good addition. He's not gone into the big mountains yet, and may not, but he fills in the disciplines well.

But Lama is just ridiculous. One of the very best competition, sport, and boulders is now unstoppable in the mountains. What he's doing right now is otherworldly and he's really just getting started. If he stays alive he's going to have an enormous impact on what we view as possible.
steve edwards
From SLC, UT
Joined May 3, 2004
551 points
Dec 24, 2012
Jake Jones wrote:
A lot of people will likely disagree with this, but the names Hayden Kennedy and Pat Goodman come to mind when considering your criteria.

I think Pat Goodman is one of the best all arounders right now myself.
Brad Caldwell
From Deep in the Jocassee Gorges
Joined May 22, 2010
1,366 points
Dec 24, 2012
Bouldering at Stanage Edge, England.
Another vote for Dave Macleod as the best all round climber for me. Dave has climbed E11 (5.14c/d R/X?), 9a (5.14d), solo'ed 8c (5.14b), bouldered v15, m12 mixed and Scottish XI, 11 (m10 R/X).

On top of that he's a thoroughly good and humble guy who freely shares his training knowledge & tips via his regularly updated blog as well as his outstanding books.

Other notables obviously must include Sharma for sheer volume of hard sport and Ondra for his recent uber hard 5.15c redpoint and hard onsights.
Rob Lilley
From Greensboro, NC
Joined Apr 30, 2012
129 points
Dec 24, 2012
Magic Ed
You guys got it wrong, it was Alex Lowe who is responsible for that famous quote.

Another vote for Dave MacLeod and Dave Birkett should get a mention.
Ed Wright
Joined May 14, 2006
332 points
Dec 24, 2012
Funny i just saw this on Planet Mountain.

history of difficulty

Ghersen is the only all arounder to appear on this list, though someone might mention Huber since we're getting historical.

Lama, while he doesn't, regularly beat some of these guys (most notably Ondra who now dominates the list) in competitions.
steve edwards
From SLC, UT
Joined May 3, 2004
551 points
Dec 24, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
the Bengas brothers are pretty awesome.

after there FA on Nuptse's cyrtals snake they went and rescued someone off everest on the descent.

In addition to numerous FAs, 8000 meter conquests and tons fo el cap ascents.



Steve House is obviously awesome... 60 hr straight slovak direct, Free Solo K7 - FA central pillar of rupal face Alpine style , numerous awesome FA' routes in Canada. howes peak, and
emperor face, and

Conrad Anker

Ueli Steck



Can woods or ondra even climb trad? do they? theyre are awesome at bouldering and sport climbing...but thats about it.
superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
Dec 24, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
The Huber Brothers.

FA Latok II
FA of north pillar of shivling
Speed Record on el cap for a time
2nd ascent of the ogre 25 years after the first ascent..regarded as one of hardest mountains in world

First free ascent of etenral flame 5.13a on Trango Tower
superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
Dec 24, 2012
"Can woods or ondra even climb trad?"

Correct question given the topic. The same thing was asked about Huber when he came to the Valley the first time. And though he had not yet done any trad climbing it didn't stop him from changing the standards for traditional free climbing within a year. I don't think "can" is a question. It's "do".
steve edwards
From SLC, UT
Joined May 3, 2004
551 points
Dec 24, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
or even itnerested in doing so. superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
Dec 24, 2012
No one has mentioned the Huber brothers yet? They should at least get an honourable mention.

EDIT: for some odd reason the whole thread wasn't loading when I posted. superkick got it. Plus they freed Eternal Flame, no small feat.
michaeltarne
Joined Jan 2, 2011
124 points
Dec 24, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
Fred Beckey?

He has more FAs than prob anyone alive.. (or dead?)
superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
Dec 24, 2012
eureka ha
Hayden Kennedy is my favorite at the moment.

followed by some climbers that I havent noticed on the list so far:

Mason Earle (climbs 13+ trad and has climbed virtually every alpine route in the North Cascades).


Jimmy Chin


UMMM....How has Tommy Caldwell not been mentioned yet?! I think people forget that Tommy does do a bit of alpine when he's not trying to hardest big wall route (possibly) ever, including a first ascent in remote alaska with Hayden Kennedy and Corey Rich this past year.
mozeman
Joined Dec 17, 2010
75 points
Dec 24, 2012
Me scaring years off my mom's life
Tommy Caldwell? I don't know if he does much alpine, but I'm WAY more impressed at someone climbing 7 5.14 trad pitches on the Dawn Wall than any of the 5.15s that the hard sport climbers have done. Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Joined Apr 26, 2009
106 points


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