Rock climbing isn’t easy. The blisters, the packing in equipment to remote locations, and the many failed tries make it frustrating. But after an epically successful route, the pain and tests of motivation are all worth it.
That’s why it’s encouraging to turn to Instagram to see some of the best rock climbers face their own trials and successes. We love the big name climbers, but there are also so many other lesser-known rock climbers whose stories may change the way you look at rock climbing.
Below are 10 quotes from rock climbers who are guaranteed to inspire you and get you rock climbing all summer long. Make sure to follow them on Instagram for incredible climbing stories and endless motivation.
“Yeah that’s me, 34 years ago, when I had more balls than brains…”
– Simon Carter
Simon Carter is an Australian adventure rockclimber who has documented his process by taking professional photographs of his climbs and the climbs of others. He has rockclimbed in 18 countries and climbs to overcome a fear of heights. His Instagram is full of shots from other professional rockclimbers on unique routes around the world.
“As a six year old girl growing up in NYC, I never imagined I’d become a rock climber, traveling all over the world. I didn’t think I was brave enough, and I was too concerned that others would think it was a crazy idea. Now I’m 17 and proud of how I’ve helped push the sport to new places, and how I’ve learned to never sweat the judgment of others.”
– Ashima Shiraishi
At only 18 years old, Ashima Shiraishi is the best female rockclimber in the world. She was the youngest person to climb a V15 route and the only female (by the way she was 14 when she did this). She is a first-generation American and uses her experience growing up in poverty in NYC to inspire other urban youth to climb.
“When you are facing a challenge that’s near your personal limit you are guaranteed to fail multiple times, so for me this is balancing a sense of humility with a sense of belief.”
– Nathaniel Coleman
Another coming-of-age star, Nathaniel Coleman, has won two IFSC silver medals in the World Circuit. He is on the road to compete on the US national team in Tokyo at the 2020 olympics. He is an inspiration for all young aspiring athletes.
“In my mind, being a true climber is not synonymous with how often or hard you climb outdoors. In my life, climbing outdoors often has only been correlative with privilege, disposable time, and disposable income.”
– Mélise Marie
Mélise Marie is a rockclimber who challenges the climbing community to have conversations about diversity and inclusivity. She’s vocal about the divide within outdoor sports and encourages all underrepresented people to get involved and climb. She is currently earning her PhD in neuroscience and is overall an inspiring figure.
“The more we can open our eyes to other people’s visions of the world, and not write them off as crazy or silly or strange, the more we can just decide to try things because they are fun and enjoyable.”
– James Pearson
James Pearson is a British rock climber that has climbed in exotic locations around the world. He is a sponsored climber for The North Face, and his climbs have been featured in many mini documentaries for the brand. He has climbing skills in many climbing disciplines, including sawanobori (Japanese stream climbing).
“Being a veteran and utilizing the strengths to become a climber, to become a backpacker, to become a hiker, to become a fisherman or a kayaker you get to build off who you are and be something more than just a veteran.”
– Stacy Bare
Not a professional rock climber but rather an inspirational hobbyist climber, Stacy Bare is a veteran who used climbing to overcome his PTS from Iraq. From that experience, he founded Adventure Not War. The project’s aim is to climb, ski, and adventure in all the places where he had served in the army, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He also is the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors, founded the Great Outdoors Lab, and a brand ambassador for The North Face.
“Choosing to be a dirtbag climber is just not an option for many people of color.”
– Sophia Danenberg
The climbing community is plagued by a lack of diverse role models. However, climber Sophia Danenberg has set out to change this. She was the first African American to summit Everest in 2007. Her background has had a great impact on the way she connects with local community at her climbing destinations. She discusses how her lack of white privilege helps her get better information for exotic climbing spots.
“I dont get days like this above the clouds without months or years of prep and training and dreaming first.”
– Adrian Ballinger
Professional rock climber, skier, and mountain guide, Adrian Ballinger has been an idol for all challenging adventurers around the globe. He has summited Everest six times, varying between using supplemental oxygen and choosing to climb without.
“I could not see how high I was, I could just feel the openness and how exposed I felt as I climbed higher.”
– Shaun Sturges
Rock climbing fully-able bodied is a challenge in itself. But imagine climbing up steep ascents with no eyesight. This is the challenge of climber Shaun Sturges. He is a rockclimber who lost his eyesight as a teenager, but has continued to seek out the adrenaline. He has hopes to compete in the 2024 Paralympic Games.
“Climbing is for everyone, it’s an innate part of nature.”
– Kai Lightner
Kai Lightner is another young climber who some have said has the skills to become the best rock climbers in the world. The 19-year-old began climbing at age six, and has a long list of accomplishments. At 6’3” he towers amongst his competitors. But perhaps our favorite part about him is his passion and enthusiasm for the sport. It shines through him and makes him incredibly fun to watch.
Rock climbing is a sport that has been defined by the same demographics for decades. However, the rockclimbers quoted above are challenging these norms, and showing us that anyone can climb. They just have to want it.
Get out there and climb on. Rock climbing is officially for all.
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