You may not know the interesting path that led Chris Sharma to where he is now.
Here’s a bit from the interview you can find in full at Wanderlust.
By chance, a friend had mentioned an opportunity to interview Chris, and as I’d grown up in the same town and stayed at his house in Spain a few days, though I was far too shy to talk to him both as a kid, and as a lost and hitchhiking 19-year-old teenager in Barcelona, I figured, well, here’s chance to talk to him and ask him about his past – and not hurt myself. (Out of nervousness I once actually dislocated a spinal disk while trying a hard move in front of him. When I say that I was a shy kid, I mean it.)
Some digging online found, comically, another interview with Playboy Italy, posted by Climbing.
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Interview with Chris Sharma
To the audience of mass media, Chris Sharma is a fearless athlete who defies gravity with the strength of just his fingers on cliffs, high (very high!) above a dark crashing sea; though if you ask rock climbers who’ve followed his progress the past 15 years, what they will note is that the man who carries the monk-bestowed named Sharma has conquered some of the hardest physical landmarks in the sport with incredible modesty and playfulness. Under these layers, you’ll find a story going back to when Sharma was just 17 and suffered a major knee injury that opened the question: why am I doing this?
You undertook Japan’s Buddhist pilgrimage, the Shikoku, walking over 750 miles to 88 Buddhist temples. What was the inspiration for that?
When I was 20, I had all this success in my climbing career, and had done pretty much everything I had dreamed of doing. I’d even climbed the first ascent of Realization. [At the time, the sport’s hardest line outdoors in the world, 5.15.] Between when I was 17 to 22, I was having a difficult time. On top of that, I had some serious injuries, and was questioning everything that I was doing. So growing up not only in Santa Cruz, but in a household that was Buddhist, where that was our tradition… that was my way of trying to get to the bottom of it all. So I took a trip to India, and on one of my first trips to India, I met this Japanese guy, and he told me about this pilgrimage. It sounded amazing. Right after I had done Realization, I went to Japan and…I did it. It took me about 6 weeks, and was a really powerful experience. For a week I was shown the rituals that you do, the whole process, then I did it by myself for 5 weeks.
Those kind of experiences I fall back on when I’m having a hard time, you know, to figure things out. All of that had a big impact on who I am.
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