The age-old saying "a picture's worth a thousand words" couldn't be any truer than for climbing photography, where so few moves can mean so much for the athletes' bodies and minds. That reality makes Instagram one of the best ways to explore the world of climbers. Desert-scapes, steep verticality, and skydiving thrills make these athletes on GrindTV's top five climbers to follow on Instagram.
Alex Honnold @ALEXHONNOLD
Self-description: “It is what it is, and it's pretty good”
Why we like him: Alex Honnold is to climbing what Kelly Slater is to surfing, and his M.O. is completing the first free-solo ascents of North America's largest walls. That means he's climbing 2,000-foot peaks—approximately 750 feet higher than the Empire State Building—sans rope and harness, with just shoes and a chalk bag. His skill and dorky personality have made Honnold the darling of climbing and adventure magazines, including National Geographic and Men's Journal.
What to expect: Free-solo vertical slab ascents, lots of desert landscapes, and a mix of the characteristic awkwardness and humble badassery of him and his friends.
Steph Davis @HIGHSTEPH
Self-description: “I live in moab.”
Why we like her: Like Honnold, Stephanie Davis has a thing for free-soloing. She's snagged a few first ascents, including being the first woman to free-solo the Diamond on Colorado's Long's Peak and the first woman to free-climb the Salathé Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite. Apparently ascending rock walls with no rope wasn't enough for Davis, because she entered into the world of BASE jumping in the mid-2000s and as of 2014 estimated that she jumps about 300 times a year.
What to expect: Lots of yoga poses, desert colors of sandstone and shale, and last, but not least, epic skydiving feats.
Cedar Wright @CEDARWRIGHT
Self-description: “Professional Climber, Filmmaker, Musician, Adventurer, Goofball.”
Why we like him: For Cedar Wright, Yosemite's vast granite walls hooked him into the sport. Working for Yosemite Search and Rescue, Wright was able to commit himself wholly to climbing and put himself on the elite-athlete radar. Among Wright's many achievements are a few first ascents on the Sentinel and several speed-record ascents around the world. He's also one of the few who have free-soloed El Capitan in a day. Over the years, Wright also has cultivated his passion for film into a successful career. His original films have been featured at festivals such as the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado, and Banff Mountain Film Festival in Alberta.
What to expect: Climbing husband-wife duo, silly shots with pet pug Gus (with his own Instagram account).
Chris Sharma @CHRIS_SHARMA
Self-description: “Chris Sharma”
Why we like him: National Geographic named him "one of the world's strongest climbers," and we have to agree. The 33-year-old boulderer and sport climber from Santa Cruz, California, has been claiming V12 and harder bouldering first ascents for a decade and a half now, starting with the Mandela in February 2012. Sharma's also nabbed some sport-climbing first ascents, including the 5.15b Golpe de Estado in Spain in December 2008 and the 5.15b Stoking the Fire in February 2013, also in Spain. These are just a few examples of the near two dozen ascents on Sharma's résumé.
What to expect: Some bouldering shots, lots of Spain climbing photos, beautiful climbing-girlfriend pics, and "psicobloc" (deep-water soloing) photos.
Hazel Findlay @HAZEL_FINDLAY
Self-description: “I like to climb different climbs around the world.”
Why we like her: Hazel Findlay got her start in climbing through the gym at age 7. After claiming six—that's right, six—first-place titles in the British junior championships, Findlay began exploring the world of climbing outdoors around 16 years old. From there, she took to the world's rock walls like Sally Fitzgibbons took to the ocean. Over the last three years, Findlay has been studying North America's granite formations in her world travels. She's also explored India, Morocco, Australia, and New Zealand in pursuit of harder and new routes.
What to expect: Photo compilations mostly of friends and world travels, often with philosophical musings as captions.
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