Kendal Speaker Profile: Chris Sharma, Life At The Top

by Michael Ryan Oct/2009
This article has been read 6,666 times
This is the second in a series of Kendal Mountain Festival speaker profiles. The first was Kendal Speaker Profile: Glen Denny, Yosemite in the Sixties

Chris Sharma, Life At The Top and Chris is also appearing in a panel discussion, Spirit or Sport with Leo Houlding, Ueli Steck, Andy Parkin and Steve House on Sunday at 1.30pm.


TIME & DATE of Chris Sharma, Life At The Top: Saturday 21 Nov : 20:30 - 22:00
TICKET: £12.00. Click to Buy


+Chris Sharma lecturing at ShAFF 2009, 99 kbChris Sharma lecturing at ShAFF 2009
© Alan James

I had a job interview in New York city a few years ago for a position at an outdoor media company. One of the questions I was asked was "Mick, are you living the dream?". I'd never really heard this livin' the dream before and was a little bemused and amused as to why I was being asked. As a climber I suppose livin' the dream means having the freedom and finances to climb where you want, when you want; being permanently tanned and fit, hanging with the beautiful people, being aplauded for your climbing achievements, having as much gear as you want and living a global lifestyle.

One climber who arguably is livin' the dream is 28 year old Chris Omprakash Sharma, one of the few climbers in the world who gets paid to climb. Chris started climbing when he was 12 years old and two years later as 14 year old he set the American climbing scene on fire with his first ascent of Necessary Evil a 5.14c (F8c+) at the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona, at the time the hardest sport route in the USA.

Chris Sharma on routes and bouldering..... ..."The hardest (boulder) problems today are either super painful because the holds are so small, or really, really condition dependant... it's not fun anymore... it doesn't really interest me to climb 8C+ or whatever. I think it's difficult to get much further, unless the problems simply get longer, but why not climb a route then instead? On a route, you can have 8A sequences stacked on top of eachother... there's no limit there. ."

+Chris Sharma, Jumbo Love, Clark Mountain, California 1, 161 kbChris Sharma, Jumbo Love, Clark Mountain, California 1
© Boone Speed / Aurora Photos

Since Necessary Evil Chris has made a string of first ascents of King Lines all around the world. Back in July 2001, he made the first ascent of Realization, at Ceüse in France and established or completed routes thought to be F9a+ or even F9b! These include Papichulo (at Oliana, Spain) and the audacious deep water soloing challenge that is Es Pontas, in Mallorca. In 2008 Sharma climbed the 250 foot single pitch line, Jumbo Love, at Clark Mountain in California, claiming the mighty grade of F9b. Now resident of Lleida in Spain's Catalunya region, Sharma continues to make his mark on top end world sport climbing standards and as climbers we can follow his evolution in the many Big Up films that feature Chris, the latest being the excellent Progression.

A Climbing Celebrity

[Missing photo!]

Chris Sharma's bouldering period was spent mainly in Bishop, California where I used to live. Such is the measure of his celebrity I can remember bouldering with the Brit, Jerry Peel from Lancashire at the Peabody boulders in the Buttermilk Country home to such Sharma milestones as the Mandala. Jerry has been one of the keenest boulderers in the UK for the last 40 years (and he sport/trad climbs at a high level as well) along with people like Al Manson, Rob Gawthorpe, Pete Kirton and John Allen. Jerry spotted Sharma bouldering over at the Grandma Peabody and was dying to meet him. We walked over, introductions were made, I think I introduced Jerry as one of the John Gill's of UK bouldering, and they posed for photographs together. Jerry was as pleased a punch.

Emphasis On Routes Over Bouldering

Now Sharma is concentrating on the first ascent of hard sport routes and he explained himself recently in this brief interview with Björn Pohl.

Sharma came to town by Björn Pohl (September 2009 first published at bjornpohl.blogspot.com)

Yesterday, Chris Sharma was in Stockholm. Before his "show", lacking a better word, we had a quick chat over a beer. Chris says he's still super psyched about putting up new routes in Spain. He's spent the summer re-modeling his new house in Sant Llorenc De Montgai, and hasn't had that much time to climb lately. Now when that's done, and the temps are cooling down, there are plenty of projects. In a typical understatement, he says "there aren't that many guys who're interested in the 9a+-and-above-lines, so I can pretty much choose all the best lines and bolt them". With unlimited access to rock close to his house, he'll have no problem keeping busy.

So, what about bouldering?

At the moment, he's not that interested in it. "The hardest problems today are either super painful because the holds are so small, or really, really condition dependant... it's not fun anymore... it doesn't really interest me to climb 8C+ or whatever. I think it's difficult to get much further, unless the problems simply get longer, but why not climb a route then instead? On a route, you can have 8A sequences stacked on top of eachother... there's no limit there. .

The question now is where the "no-limit" is...

Stay tuned, I think this fall will be interesting.

Chris Sharma's Most Notable Ascents

  • Necessary Evil (5.14c)
  • The Mandala (V12).
  • Realization (9a+/5.15a). First Ascent 2001.
  • Dreamtime (8B+/8C). Fourth ascent.
  • Witness the Fitness (V15). First ascent.
  • Practice of the Wild (8C) First Ascent.
  • Dreamcatcher (5.14d). First Ascent.
  • Es Pontas. First Ascent.
  • Papichulo (9a+). First ascent.
  • Jumbo Love (5.15b?). First Ascent.
  • Golpe de Estado (9b?). First Ascent.
  • Demencia Senil (9a+?). First Ascent.
  • French Gangster (8c/5.14b). Onsight without chipped hold.
  • Pachamama (9a+/5.15a). First Ascent.

The Kendal Mountain Festival 2009

HOW TO BOOK TICKETS

The dates are 19-22 November and tickets are available now. Book online - www.mountainfest.co.uk - or by phone 01539 725133 - news as it happens at www.mountainfest.co.uk

ACCOMMODATION

Easily accessible from the M6 and by train and there are plenty of accommodation options in and around the town but you need to be on your toes as they fill up very quickly over the Mountain Festival weekend.

For all your questions, accomodation and travel needs go to www.golakes.co.uk here you will find all the information you should need for your visit to Cumbria, alternatively call the accommodation booking line on 0845 450 1199.

www.mountainfest.co.uk

Berghaus logo, 11 kb

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