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Wolfgang Güllich, famous for creating the world’s first campus board and widely considered one of the greatest sport climbers of all time was a German-born climber whom is responsible for numerous advancements in the grading system. Known for his appreciation for free-climbing, he was a pioneer to the sport of climbing and a role-model for many of the greats that exist today. So much so, that the anniversary of his death (August 31) is respected around the world by climbers from all forms of life, both novice and professional. Pioneering the skill of climbing without ropes, Gullich, is definitely a role model to climbers such as Alex Honnold and even the great Chris Sharma.
Three years before, in 1991, Wolfgang Güllich, of Germany, had set the bar high with the world’s first 5.14d, Action Directe, on his home turf. Then, the French climber Jibe Tribout established the first 5.14c on U.S. soil: Just Do It, at Smith Rock, Oregon, in 1992. Each year, it seemed, more routes emerged on longer sweeping faces with super-complex, athletic moves that just flowed into each other. These routes and climbers inspired and motivated me most in those initial years. (I never understood the Lycra tights, however.)
– Chris Sharma
Notable First Ascents / Grade Updates:
- Kanal im Rücken, X- 8b (5.13d) (1984), first 8b (5.13d) in history
- Punks in the Gym, X 8b+ (5.14a) (1985, Mount Arapiles, Australia), first 8b+ (5.14a) in history
- Amadeus Schwarzenegger, X (1986)
- Wallstreet, XI-, 8c (5.14b) (1987), first 8c (5.14b) in history
- Action Directe XI, 9a (5.14d) (1991), first 9a (5.14d) in history, still considered one of the hardest routes worldwide
Oddly enough, You may have already seen Güllich climb as he was the climbing double for Slyvestre Stallone in the movie Cliffhanger. Far from the highlight of his illustrious climbing it is a testament to his standing in the climbing community of the 80s and 90s.
Learning about Wolfgang Güllich is something every young climber should do. Unfortunately most of the biographies are in german, but the stuff that is in english tells the story of an extremely talented climber with a very eccentric look on life. He is truly one of a kind, and the world was lucky to have him.