For the world's best climbers, it's all about taking on the most difficult routes available. "Highball" climbs — bouldering routes high above the ground — fit the bill.
The climbers that attack these treacherous routes have courage and strength to spare. They'll soon put those skills to the test at Red Bull 5 Blocks at Silvapark in Galtür, Austria, where they will tackle five highball climbs.
In the meantime, check out some of their favorite highballs below.
Rustam Gelmanov “Highballing” in Krasnoyarsk (above)
Who: Rustam Gelmanov
Where: Krasnoyarsk, Siberia
Why it's cool: "The rocks in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, are like a piece of art — beautiful and unique,” Gelmanov says.
Alex Megos Working Hard on Lucid Dreaming
Who: Alex Megos
Where: Lucid Dreaming, Buttermilks, California
Why it's cool: "Lucid Dreaming was very special for me, not just because of the height of the boulders but because of three moves that took me 11 full days," Megos says. "It was personal!”
Ned Feehally Climbs Careless Torque
Who: Ned Feehally
Where: Careless Torque, Peak District, UK
Why it's cool: "Careless Torque is my favourite spot in England — the line, the moves, the height, the location and the history make it the best problem I have solved,” Feehally says.
Niccolò Ceria in the Rocklands
Who: Niccolò "Niky" Ceria
Where: Shosholoza, Rocklands, South Africa
Why it's cool: "I think there are some boulder problems that you simply must complete [because of their] beauty, history and, of course, the difficulty," Ceria says. "For me, Shosholoza in the Rocklands in Africa has all that."
Sachi Amma On Top of Center Direct
Who: Sachi Amma
Where: Center Direct, Buttermilks, California
Why it's cool: "Center Direct V14 is quite intimidating because of its height, and I had never climbed such a mighty highball," Amma says. "The tension was enormous — quite unlike leading, where I feel most comfortable."
Bernd Zangerl on 29 Dots
Who: Bernd Zangerl
Where: 29 Dots, Val Noasca, Italy
Why it's cool: "I made the decision to climb this highball after much thought," Zangerl says. "I grabbed two crashpads, took a deep breath and a short time later I had managed the first ascent of 29 Dots. [It was] the toughest chunk of my career, which I am very proud of."
The First Ascent of Kingda Ka
Who: Giuliano Cameroni
Where: Kingda Ka, Gotthardpass, Switzerland
Why it's cool: “Kingda Ka 8A+ at the Gotthard Pass is important for me," Cameroni says. "The small holds there have their quirks."
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