Beth Rodden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Beth Rodden
Personal information
Born (1980-04-05) April 5, 1980 (age 39)
San Francisco, California, United States
OccupationRock climber
Climbing career
Type of climber
Highest grade

Beth Rodden (born May 5, 1980) is an American rock climber known for her ascents of hard single pitch trad routes. 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. Rodden and fellow climber Tommy Caldwell were partners from 2000 to 2010, during which time they completed the second free ascent of The Nose, and Rodden made the first ascent of Meltdown, one of the hardest traditional climbs in the world.

Climbing career[edit]

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.[1]

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.[2] In 2000, she put up the first free ascent of Lurking Fear with Tommy Caldwell, marking El Capitan's second first free ascent by a woman.[2] 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. [3] In 2006, Beth and then husband Tommy Caldwell, competed in the 2006 Triple Crown Bouldering Series to raise money for climber's access.[4]

In February 2008, Rodden redpointed the first ascent of Meltdown, a thin sustained crack in Yosemite previously projected by Ron Kauk. A proposed grade of 5.14c made it the hardest pitch in Yosemite, and first ascent by a woman.[5][6] Despite many talented climbers attempting it, it took 11 years for anyone to make a second ascent.[7]

Hostage in Kyrgyzstan[edit]

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.[8] The four climbers overpowered one of their captors and escaped to a Kyrgyz army camp. During their capture they were forced to hide around the valley as their captors avoided the military. At midnight on August 18, the commander left them all to search for batteries for the radio as well as food, leaving only one guard, Ravshan Sharipov[9], to watch the four captives. The ordeal finally ended when Tommy Caldwell pushed him off the edge of the cliff, although they learned later that Sharipov survived. About the decision to push Sharipov off, Beth stated: "It's so hard to think about that now, but we were afraid we wouldn't survive."[10] Their story was a brief sensation in the American media.[11]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Rodden met Tommy Caldwell through competition in 1995 and they started dating shortly before Kyrgyzstan.[12] They married in 2003, lived in Yosemite, and both worked establishing themselves as professional climbers. Rodden and Caldwell divorced in 2009.

In 2014, she had a son with husband Randy Puro.[13]

Notable ascents[edit]

  • 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.[14]
  • 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.[15][16]
  • 2002: The Phoenix (5.13a, first female onsight) Upper Cascade Falls, Yosemite Valley, California.[2]
  • 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.[17]
  • 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.[16]
  • 2005: Anaconda (5.13b/c, first female free ascent) at Lumpy Ridge, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.[18]
  • 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.[19][20]
  • 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heidi, Haas. "Beth Rodden". Women Climbing. Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  2. ^ a b c Kate, Sibler (2005). Schaffer, Grayson (ed.). Outside's Faces: The 25 Greatest Athletes Now. Outside's Bookazine Classics. pp. 32–35.
  3. ^ Joost (2007-02-18). "Emily Harrington climbs 5.14b (8c)". Archived from the original on 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  4. ^ "World Renowned Climbers, Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell, Compete at This Year's Triple Crown Bouldering Series". PRWeb. Retrieved Feb 25, 2019.
  5. ^ "Meltdown: Beth Rodden's Unrepeated Yosemite First Ascent". August 25, 2016.
  6. ^ "Watch Anak Verhoeven's First Ascent of Sweet Neuf (9a+5/5.15a)". October 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "Carlo Traversi Repeats "Meltdown" (5.14c?), Hardest Crack in Yosemite (and the World?)". Rock and Ice. November 8, 2018.
  8. ^ Child, Greg (November 2000). "Special Reports: Fear of Falling". Outside Magazine. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  9. ^ "Mountaineering - Back from the Edge - Mountaineering -". Outside Online.
  10. ^ Rogers, Patrick, Maureen Harrington, and Eileen Finan. "His Life or Theirs." People 54.11 (2000): 97. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 May 2012.
  11. ^ Child, Greg (April 2, 2002). Over the Edge: The True Story of Four American Climbers' Kidnap and Escape in the Mountains of Central Asia. Villard, Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 0-375-50609-8.
  12. ^ "From Kidnapping to Kids, My Life on and Off the rocks". Outside Magazine. May 2017.
  13. ^ . Beth Rodden Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "Live It Up". Outside Magazine. Mariah Media Inc. January 2006. Archived from the original on 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  15. ^ Stanley, Matt (3 August 2000). "High Points: Lurking Free". Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  16. ^ a b Cummins, Clint; Jim Herson; Jeff Schoen; Mark Hudon (March 2006). Cummins, Clint (ed.). "Yosemite - Long Hard Free Climbs". Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  17. ^ "Micro Managing". Rock & Ice (128): 29. October 2003. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
  18. ^ Schmidt, David (December 2005). "Hot Flashes: Rodden Redpoints Anaconda". Climbing. Primedia (224). Archived from the original on 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  19. ^ MacDonald, Dougald. "Caldwell-Rodden Free the Nose". Climbing. Archived from the original on 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
  20. ^ Wright, Cedar. "Yosemite Valley: Various Activity". Alpinist. Retrieved 2007-05-06.

External links[edit]