Famed rock climber Chris Sharma returned from Spain to his childhood stomping grounds in Santa Cruz, California, to attempt an ascent both familiar and foreign. While Sharma climbed plenty of trees in his youth, he had never tried scaling the massive trunk of a towering California Coast Redwood.
BIG TREE CLIMBING
To protect the climate-change stressed tree from damage, Sharma wore footwear he designed specifically for the climb. The selected tree was 252-feet tall and 26-feet in circumference, with bark hardened from previous forest fires.
''It's much more than climbing a tree. It's a way of paying homage to this whole amazing ecosystem and also where I’m from and kind of literally coming back to my roots.''
Sharma found the ascent surprisingly difficult, but ultimately made it to the top of the redwood where he collected new-growth samples alongside a U.C. Berkeley biologist. Climbing the endangered trees is illegal, but Sharma and the scientists had research permits to gather data on the tree’s health.
The Redwood forests have always been super special places for me. They are a symbol of being home, and whenever I'm back in Santa Cruz I always make it a point to spend time in these forests. They make you feel so small but at the same time protected, safe and embraced by nature. It's a place I've always gone when I want to get away from everything and just appreciate being. After spending my life seeking out perfect lines to climb, it's been a dream of mine for a long time to climb on these giant living things. They are perfect! It was amazing to finally get the chance! On top of that, to do it along side scientists Anthony Ambrose and Wendi Baxter and study the trees with them and make a film to raise awareness and pay homage to these giants made it that much more special. Thanks to everyone who made this possible. @katiann84 @ashleysmeltzer @redbull and to @ladzinski for making an awesome film about the whole experience! @redbull @prana @evolvusa @sanukfootwear @sterlingrope @petzl_official @justinvitcov
Sharma’s attraction to taking on a redwood is no surprise, as he has been pioneering climbs for over a decade now. The video of his 2005 first ascent of British Colombia’s Dreamcatcher (rated a 5.14d climb) has accumulated more than 3 million views.
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