We checked in with the indefatigable Chris Sharma, known for rock climbing the hardest routes on Earth. Once a world-wandering rock hound, Sharma has now put roots down in Catalonia, Spain, the limestone epicenter for sport climbing. Far from resting on his laurels, the 30-year-old is quietly training for the world's hardest rock climbing route—a 5.15c—and marveling at the golden age of rock climbing that is upon us. —Mary Anne Potts
Adventure: Are you still deepwater soloing these days?
Chris Sharma: I am here in Mallorca [Spain] doing some deepwater soloing right now. I haven't been here for a while. I've really gotten into sport climbing over the last few years. I actually have some good friends from Santa Cruz, California, who are visiting. I've been giving them a tour. And we've been doing some deepwater soloing. It's really cool for me to come back to Mallorca.
What does Spain have to offer a rock hound like you?
CS: I live in Catalonia, the province of Lleida, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It's a really special place right now. In the 1990s southern France was the epicenter of sport climbing. Everyone around the world would go to the south of France. That was where the best competitions were. That's were the standards were being set.
And now that has moved to Catalonia. That has to do with me living there, establishing a lot of the hard routes. But then, just in general, it's really an international epicenter. Everyone goes there. It's where all the hardest climbs are right now. The grade 5.15, which is pretty much the highest level out there, there are a handful of these routes around the world. But 90 percent of these routes are in Catalonia in Spain.