April 5, 1980 |
San Francisco, California
|Type of climber|
Beth Rodden (born May 5, 1980 in San Francisco, California) is an American rock climber. She was the youngest woman to climb 5.14a (8b+), and is one of the only women in the world to have redpointed a 5.14c (8c+) traditional climb. She lives near Yosemite, California. Rodden and Tommy Caldwell met at a junior climbing competition in 1995 and were married in 2003. They divorced in 2010.
Rodden started climbing in 1995 at The Rocknasium, a local climbing gym in Davis, California. She won the Junior National JCCA Championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998; ranked first overall in the ASCF adult national series in 1997 and 1998; and placed third at the ASCF Fall Nationals in 1998.
In 1998 Rodden redpointed the sport route To Bolt Or Not To Be, the historical first 5.14 established in America, and became the youngest woman to ascend 5.14a. Her work impressed free climbing pioneer Lynn Hill, who invited Rodden to make the first all-female ascent of Madagascar's Tsaranoro Massif in 1999. The trip to Madagascar marked Rodden's move to a less mainstream trad climbing career. In 2000, she put up the first free ascent of Lurking Fear with Tommy Caldwell, marking El Capitan's second free ascent by a female. With Lurking Fear and her 2005 free ascent of The Nose, she became the first woman to free climb two routes on El Capitan. In October 2005 she free-climbed The Optimist, becoming the first American woman to redpoint 5.14b.  In 2006, Beth and husband Tommy Caldwell, competed in the 2006 Triple Crown Bouldering Series to raise money for climber's access. In February 2008, Rodden redpointed the first ascent of Meltdown. A proposed grade of 5.14c makes Meltdown the hardest climb in Yosemite, the hardest traditional pitch in America, the hardest ascent by an American woman, and hardest traditional route led or established by a woman.
Hostage in Kyrgyzstan
On a climbing trip to Kyrgyzstan's Kara Su Valley in August 2000, Rodden, then-boyfriend Tommy Caldwell, and fellow climbers, Jason "Singer" Smith and photographer, John Dickey, were held hostage for six days by rebels from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The four climbers overpowered one of their captors and escaped to a Kyrgyz army camp. The climbers were held captive for six days and nights. The ordeal finally ended when Tommy Caldwell pushed one guard captor off of the edge of the cliff. At midnight on Aug. 18, the commander left them all to search for batteries for the radio, leaving only one guard, Usuph, to watch the four captives. All four climbers attest to the incident that Usuph was pushed off that cliff. The Kyrgyz officials won't confirm if a body was recovered. A press aide to the Kyrgyz president, Mycaev Aibek, believes the climbers' account of this incident to be true. About the decision to take that life, Beth quotes "It's so hard to think about that now, but we were afraid we wouldn't survive".  Their story was a brief sensation for the American media.
Rodden's climbing suffered and she did not travel internationally for a year. Then in October 2001 she climbed El Capitan in an Americares event to raise money for the families of 9/11 rescue personnel. She returned to the top tier of rock climbing, onsighting Phoenix, a 5.13a crack in Yosemite, in May 2002.
- est.1997: Country Boy (5.13d, 2nd ascent) at Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park Valley, Colorado.
- 1998: To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a, 8b+) in Smith Rock State Park, Oregon.
- 1999: Bravo les Filles (VI 5.13d A0, 13 pitches, with Lynn Hill, Nancy Feagin, and Kath Pyke) in Tsaranoro Massif, Madagascar.
- 1999/2000: Disco Machine Gun (5.13, FA/FFA) Indian Creek Canyon, Moab, Utah.
- 2000: Lurking Fear (5.10 A3, FFA with Tommy Caldwell) on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley. Originally rated 5.10 A3, the first seven pitches free are 5.12c, 5.13c, 5.12d, 5.12d, 5.12a, 5.12c, and 5.13c.
- 2002: The Phoenix (5.13a, first female onsight) Upper Cascade Falls, Yosemite Valley, California.
- 2002: Grand Illusion (5.13c, onsight, first female ascent) at Sugarloaf, California.
- 2003: Sarchasm (5.14a, 8b+, 2nd ascent) Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
- 2003: West Buttress (5.13c, FFA with Tommy Caldwell) on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley. All pitches were redpointed at different times; no continuous free ascent done yet.
- 2005: Anaconda (5.13b/c, first female free ascent) at Lumpy Ridge, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
- 2005: Grand Wall (5.13b, Free Ascent) multi-pitch at Squamish, B.C. Canada.
- 2005: The Optimist (5.14b, FA/FFA) in Smith Rock State Park, Oregon.
- 2005: The Nose (VI 5.14a, 3rd/4th Free Ascent with Tommy Caldwell) on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California. In October Caldwell and Rodden each led about half of the route’s 31 pitches and freed every one.
- 2008: Meltdown (ungraded, thought 5.14c, FA), Upper Cascade Falls, Yosemite Valley, California. She worked the 70-foot crack for most of the winter before redpointing, placing all protection on the redpoint ascent.
- 2005: Dosage Volume III (bigUP productions) - Rodden on The Optimist.
- 2005: A Day In The Life: 5 Women Who Climb (Vasentertainment)
- 2006: Wall Rats (Form Follows Function/Yegg Central Productions)
- 2006: The First Couple of Rock (Corey Rich and Jason Paur) - A film highlighting Rodden and Tommy Caldwell as married climbing partners.
- 2008: Dosage Volume V (bigUP productions) - Rodden on several hard traditional routes including Meltdown.
- 2008: Grand Canyon Walls (bigUP productions/Sender Films) - Rodden and Tommy Caldwell raft down the Grand Canyon looking for first ascents.
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