Chris Sharma is widely recognized as one of the world’s strongest, most accomplished and most groundbreaking climbers. Based on my experience a couple of months ago, I would say he’s also the most popular.
My friends at Climb So iLL were hosting an all day event with Chris Sharma and Walltopia that included a chance for members to climb with Chris, a climbing demonstration and a meet & greet/Q&A session. Since the event doubled as a fundraiser for the Holy Boulders project, I thought it would be a great time for me to head up to St. Louis, hang out with the guys and drop off all the money The Crag & Belmont University raised through the Nashville Collegiate Climbing Regional raffle.
The event started with Chris climbing a couple of routes set specially for the event by Chris Danielson and the Climb So iLL routesetters. The first route was a 5.11a “warmup.” The second route was 5.14b and featured a cool forced down climbing sequence.
Bouldering on The Eye Wall was next up…
After the climbing demonstration, Chris signed posters and took pictures with many of the hundreds of people at the event, and then did a Q & A session with the crowd. It was great hearing him talk about things like grades, training and what he does on off days (“Sleep.”). It was clear in hearing him talk that he has a passion not just for the sport but that he also has an understanding of his role as a leader in the sport and a sense of responsibility for growing the community. He’s a normal guy that just happens to be great at rock climbing.
The thing that strikes me most as I think back on the event is that Chris, one of our sport’s most elite athletes, treated everyone he met that day with respect and humility, whether he was climbing alongside and encouraging someone just getting started in rock climbing or answering questions about how he felt about other climbers downgrading his routes (he politely side stepped the question). I’m happy to say that my level of respect for Chris Sharma the person now matches the respect and admiration I have for Chris Sharma the climber.
Thanks to my friends at Climb So iLL for inviting me up to crash their party and thanks to everyone that donates to our Holy Boulders Tip Jar. Now if they’ll just have another event with Dave Graham…