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 By: Jens Larssen  | Date: 2006-08-29  | Category: Interviews    | Comment  

When it comes natural!


Chris climbing & spotting

Chris Sharma is at Railay Beach - Thailand, together with his lovely girlfriend Julie, and it's obvious that this is his paradise. Last year he was mostly doing routes but this year he is also bouldering, directly from the beaches, with the locals.
- It is more natural! It is more fun!
Short sentences and always a welcoming smile and he is just like one of the natural-borns on the playground. His only problem is that they are all around 165 cm and not used to spot (like me).
- Could you help me when I'm climbing?
Sharma tries to invite a tall stranger passing by on the beach, as he needs him badly for the new problem he wants to do. It ends up that we all are shuffling sand over some flagstones.
Chris is super psyched but he's not climbing, he is spotting and he is so focused and powerful when he is spitting the commands out that he just grabs them on straight arms when they pop of.

Brushing away the sand from his feet and carefully chalking his hands and he is off. Some quick moves and the first thing that puzzles you is the power he puts on his feet when he squeezes the overhanging bulge. Higher than ever, going for tiny holds that no man has ever touched, and you can feel that he is a bit worried about the weak spotting squad beneath him and he screams when he desperately goes for an undercling and falls in our arms. Everyone is laughing and he has to wait another day for more sand.
- Look at it, it's so beautiful!
Sharma is smiling and you can see in his eyes that this problem is not about ratings or being the best. You do not have to ask why, it's just natural as it is. But you start to wonder. Is this the reason for him knowing that he has been the best or is it a consequence?

Hard facts

Chris Sharma
World Championship - 1997
8c+, Biographie
8b+, Slash Face
WC Rovereto (bouldering) - 2000
8a.nu's World Ranking Routes & Boulders
~40 & ~15
5.10 & Prana


Playing with the stalactites

Cruising Voodoo Doll, 7c+

He started out when he was 12 when his parents left him at the gym and ever since, climbing has been his true passion. Three years later he was number two in the world championship in 1997 and at the same year, turning 16, he was within the top five in all the seven UIAA competitions he participated in. So what's the secret? How are you supposed to train to become such a super athlete? Few questions and minutes later you really understand that, in his case, it's most about natural talent and attitude. At least, he can't come up with good enough training reasons. The explanation he gives is having the right "feeling" and having "fun" and not to follow any specific "program".

Surprisingly he says that WC comps are fun and he is in fact thinking of a comeback in the next season. But he really doesn't know and when he is answering why he has done so few since 1997, he looks deeply in my eyes and makes me understand that the feeling hasn't been right. In fact, the feeling hasn't been that right for producing results for close to three years and it's instead the myth that has grown stronger. He has seriously been trying to give Biographie, 8c+, in Ceuse, a 50 feet 9a+ extension but fallen numerous times at the top. But mostly he has been bouldering and earlier this year the un-rated Mandala, was on everyone lips. Speculations assumed up to 8B+ but as it was relatively easy repeated and the grade has been suggested to 8A+.

He will remain in Railay for another couple of weeks before he goes to the Phillippines and India, during the winter season. Then back to the States and maybe Europe and some WC series the next summer, whatever! This guy he is living in the moment and why should he bother when he is here in paradise together with his girlfriend.

As soon as I'm starting to ask about ratings and Hot Flashes he starts to feel uncomfortable. In fact, his body language changes so dramatically just when he understand that I'm like everyone else and it ends up that I have to apologize to even have brought the matter up and he walks back to his girlfriend. Last week we saw him doing an 8a+ on-sight, but that's not important to him. The important thing, it seems, is each time as he, fully loaded, feels rock under his nails. Then he is, each time, just letting go of all the energy he gets in this paradise, just by walking around and being with Julie. Happy-go-lucky he waits for the next time - When it comes natural!

Alternatively, the worlds most talented climber, since the (9a route) legend Wolfgang Gullich, could do like him and the rest of the world class climbers - train hard - and instead of being a myth he might become the legend of 9A bouldering...