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The Most Influential Female Rock Climbers

LAST UPDATED: 9th May 2024

The Breakdown

Climbing has long been dominated by men, both in participation and recognition. However, the sheer cliff faces and daunting boulders that have symbolized impossible challenges have met their match in the spirit of female climbers.

The ladies are absolutely crushing the climbing scene, and I think I speak for everyone when I say the female competition scene has had us sitting at the edge of our seats. From plastic to real rock, to highballs and lowballs, big wall and alpine, female rock climbers have broken the barriers in all disciplines.

In no particular order, here at the most famous and influential female climbers.

Famous Female Climbers

#1: Janja Garnbret 

From: Slovenia

Best Known For: Winning Gold at 2020 Olympics

Janja Garnbret is a Slovenian climbing sensation, renowned for her unparalleled success in competition climbing. She has dominated the sport, making her one of the most celebrated climbers in the world. Garnbret’s ability to consistently perform at the highest level across different climbing disciplines, including bouldering, lead climbing, and combined, sets her apart in the competitive climbing scene.

Janja Garnbret onsighting 8c
Janja becoming the first female climber to onsight an 8c ©Toni Mas Buchaca
Biggest Achievement

Janja Garnbret’s most significant achievement is her historic win at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she became the first woman to win a gold medal in sport climbing. Also At the time of writing, she has won 42 IFSC World Cup events, more than anyone else. And her secret? Just have fun!

#2: Sasha DiGiulian

From: USA

Best Known For: First Female Ascent of Magic Mushroom

Sasha DiGiulian is an American rock climber who has been breaking barriers and setting records since she burst onto the scene. Known for her incredible strength and technical skill, DiGiulian has become a symbol of excellence in sport climbing and big wall climbing. Her achievements have inspired countless of female climbers around the world, proving that perseverance and passion can take you to the top, even after going through surgery and intense recovery.

Sasha DiGiulian climbing
Photo from Sasha DiGiulian Gallery
Biggest Achievement

Sasha has achieved so much it’s hard to say which stands out. Her first female ascent of Magic Mushroom, her all-female ascent of Rayu, her incredible willpower to get back up and climb after 5 hip replacement surgeries, her book or her business Send Bars? I think all of these are her biggest achievements. 

#3: Lynn Hill

From: USA

Best Known For: Freeing The Nose on El Cap

Lynn Hill is a legendary figure in the world of climbing, celebrated for her pioneering ascents and for breaking gender barriers in the sport. With a career spanning several decades, Hill has excelled in trad, big wall, sport climbing, and bouldering. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest female climbers of all time, thanks to her incredible skill, determination, and innovative approach to climbing. Hill’s contributions have not only included spectacular ascents but also a profound influence on the climbing community, encouraging generations of climbers to push their limits and explore new possibilities.

Lynn Hill first free ascent of The Nose, Yosemite
Lynn on the first free ascent of The Nose, El Cap ©Helnz Zak
Biggest Achievement

Lynn Hill’s most monumental achievement is her first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley in 1993. This feat was groundbreaking, as she became the first person to free climb one of the most iconic and challenging routes in the world. The following year, Hill outdid herself by becoming the first person to free climb The Nose in under 24 hours, solidifying her status as a climbing legend. Her famous quote, “It goes, boys,” upon completing the climb, has become a symbol of breaking gender expectations in the sport. 

#4: Margo Hayes

From: USA

Best Known For: First female to climb 9a+

Margo Hayes has become a beacon of inspiration for climbers everywhere, especially aspiring female athletes in the climbing world. In 2017, she etched her name into climbing history by becoming the first woman to successfully climb a route graded 9a+ (5.15a), shattering ceilings and setting new standards for climbers worldwide. From a young gymnast to a climbing prodigy, Margo has pushed the boundaries of what is possible in sport climbing but have also inspired a generation of climbers to dream big and aim high.

Margo Hayes climbing La Rambla 9a+
Margo Hayes making history as the first woman to climb a 9a+ ©JanNovak
Biggest Achievement

Margo Hayes’ groundbreaking ascent of “La Rambla” in Siurana, Spain, on February 26th, 2017, stands as her most significant achievement. This achievement was followed by her first female ascents of “Biographie” and “Papichulo,” both also graded at 9a+ (5.15a), further cementing her status as one of the leading figures in the sport.

#5: Brette Harrington

From: USA

Best Known For: First female to free solo Fitz Roy

Brette Harrington is a name that resonates in the climbing community for her bold ascents and pioneering spirit. Known as one of the best female free solo climbers and for her significant contributions to big wall climbing, Harrington has carved a niche for herself as one of the most daring and skilled climbers of her generation.

Brette Harrington climber
Brette Harrington free soloing
Biggest Achievement

One of Brette Harrington’s most notable achievements is her free solo ascent of “Chiaro di Luna” (5.11a) on the Fitz Roy massif in Patagonia. 

#6: Beth Rodden

From: USA

Best Known For: Daring ascents in Yosemite

Beth Rodden alongside Tommy Caldwell ticked off climb after climb in Yosemite, becoming a huge climbing sensation in the early 2000s. Now a role model for aspiring female climbers, she is an advocate for embracing your body.

Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell on Lurking Fear
Beth and Tommy on Lurking Fear @CoreyRich
Biggest Achievement

Among Beth Rodden’s many accomplishments, her free ascent of “The Nose” on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park stands out as a monumental achievement. Additionally, her first ascent of “Meltdown,” a contender for the hardest trad climb established by a woman.

#7: Hazel Findlay

From: Britain

Best Known For: Becoming first British female to climb E9

Hazel Findlay is a British climber renowned for her exceptional achievements in trad climbing and big wall ascents. As the first British woman to climb the grades of E9 and 5.14 (or 8b+ in the French grading system), Findlay has cemented her place in climbing history. Her adventurous spirit and technical skill have taken her on climbing expeditions around the world, from the sea cliffs of the UK to the vast walls of Yosemite and the remote peaks of Patagonia.

Hazel Findlay frees the Salathe Wall
Hazel Findlay frees the Salathe Wall along with ©Jonny Baker
Biggest Achievement

Hazel has done a lot of cool stuff, from climbing Magic Line, and the Phoenix in Yosemite to free soloing peaks around Wales and Deep Water Soloing in Mallorca. She is also a huge advocate for mental training for climbing, having launched her own course on how to get over fear of falling.

#8: Shauna Coxsey

From: Britain

Best Known For: Competing at the highest level

Shauna Coxsey is Britain’s most successful competition climber, with an MBE and Presidentcy of the IFSC Athletes Commission under her belt. Coxsey’s career is adorned with two Bouldering World Cups and over 30 podium finishes. Her journey from a young enthusiast inspired by Catherine Destivelle to becoming a climbing sensation is a testament to her dedication, talent, and passion for climbing. Now a mother to little Frankie, she continues to climb and inspire women all around the world. 

Shauna Coxsey climbing
Shauna Coxey performs at the IFSC Climbing World Cup 2016 in Innsbruck, Austria Elias Holzknecht / Red Bull Content Pool // SI201607050051
Biggest Achievement:

Among her numerous accomplishments, Shauna Coxsey’s most significant achievements include clinching the Women’s Bouldering title at the IFSC World Cup in 2016 and securing another Boulder World Cup title the following year. Her exceptional performance at the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships in Hachioji, Japan, where she won two bronze medals in Bouldering and the Combined event also stand out. Shauna also took part in the inaugural Sport Climbing events in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

#9:Catherine Destivelle

From: France

Best Known For: First female to climb 8a+

Catherine Destivelle’s career is marked by a series of groundbreaking ascents that have not only shattered gender barriers but have also redefined the possibilities of mountaineering and rock climbing. Destivelle’s fearless approach to climbing, combined with her technical skill and innovative tactics, has made her a legend in the climbing community and a source of inspiration for climbers around the world.

Catherine Destivelle stemming on Devils Tower
Catherine Destivelle on Devil’s Tower ©Catherine Destivelle Collection
Biggest Achievement

Among her numerous accomplishments, Catherine Destivelle’s first-ever female ascent of “Chouca” (8a+ / 5.13c) in Buoux, France, stands out as a historic milestone. Additionally, her solo ascents of some of the most challenging and iconic routes in the world, including the Bonatti Pillar and the north faces of the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grandes Jorasses during winter, underscore her exceptional abilities and fearless spirit.

#10: Alex Puccio

From: USA

Best Known For: Fourth female to climb V14

Alex Puccio is among the world’s leading female boulderers, with a career spanning over a decade, Puccio has consistently pushed the boundaries of women’s bouldering, both in competitions and outdoor climbing.

Alex Puccio Heritage V14
Alex sending Heritage V14 ©westmountainmedia
Biggest Achievement

One of Alex Puccio’s most significant achievements includes winning multiple National Championships in the USA. Additionally, she has made numerous contributions to women’s climbing, such as her first female ascent of “Jade” (V14) in Rocky Mountain National Park, marking her as one of the few women to climb at this elite level.

#11: Brooke Raboutou

From: USA

Best Known For: Competing at the highest level

Brooke Raboutou is a prominent figure in competitive climbing, recognized for her extraordinary achievements in both sport climbing and bouldering. Growing up in a family of climbers, she was introduced to the sport at a young age and has since established herself as a formidable competitor on the international stage.

Brooke Raboutou Box Therapy
Brooke on Box Therapy Photo Finn Stack
Biggest Achievement

Brooke Raboutou made history by becoming one of the first American climbers to qualify for the Olympics, where climbing made its debut. She also began one of the few female climbers to have climbed a V15 boulder with Box Therapy (originally graded a V16).

#12: Natalia Grossman

From: USA

Best Known For: Competing at the highest level

Natalia Grossman is one of the top female competitor climbers in the USA. Having secured a place in the 2024 Olympics, Natalia is at the top of her game and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

Natalia Grossman on lead wall in Kranj
Natalia at the 2021 Lead World Cup in Kranj where she took bronze ©janvirtphotography

Biggest Achievement

Among her numerous accomplishments, Natalia Grossman’s gold medals at the IFSC Climbing World Cup events stand out and her ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

13: Jain Kim

From: South Korea

Known For: Competing at the highest level

Jain Kim is a South Korean powerhouse known for her fluid movement and precise technique. She has been a dominant figure in international competitions for years. Even at the age of 35 where most athletes would think of retiring, Kim came back to the comp scene after having a baby with a bang.

Jain Kim winning 30th Gold Medal at a World Cup ©JAN VIRT/IFSC
Biggest Achievement

Kim Jain’s illustrious career is highlighted by her World Championship titles and consistent podium finishes at the IFSC Climbing World Cups. However, her 30th Gold Medal win at the Chamonix World Cup really stands out as her comeback win.

14: Miho Nonaka

From: Japan

Best Known For: Winning Silver at 2020 Olympics

Miho Nonaka, is a Japanese climber renowned for her powerful climbing style. Nonaka has been a constant presence in international competitions, winning her fair share of medals on the World Cup circuit.

Miho on Mr Hyde
Miho on Mr Hyde 8c+ ©BenNeilson
Biggest Achievement

There is no doubt that one of Miho’s biggest achievements is her silver gold medal win at the first Olympic Climbing Event. Not only did she win silver, she won it in her own home country, Japan. 

15: Akiyo Noguchi

From: Japan

Best Known For: Winning bronze at 2020 Olympics

Akiyo Noguchi without a doubt one of the best female Japanese climbers and is a legend in competitive climbing, acclaimed for her longevity and consistency in both bouldering and sport climbing. With a career that spans over a decade, Noguchi has been a steadfast figure in the climbing world, known for her technical skill, strategic problem solving, and incredible adaptability on the wall.

Biggest Achievement

Her notable achievements include multiple victories (21!) at the IFSC Climbing World Cup series and significant contributions to the sport, culminating in her participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she represented Japan in climbing’s Olympic debut. Oh and she won silver at the Olympics by the way.

16: Angy Eiter

From: Austria

Best Known For: First female to climb 9b

Angela Eiter is renowned for her extraordinary achievements in sport climbing, particularly in lead climbing. She has made a significant impact in the climbing community, not just through her competitive success but also by pushing the limits of female sport climbing outdoors.

9b climbs - Angela Eiter on Planta de Shiva
Angy’s interesting drop knee on La Planta De Shiva ©Javipec
Biggest Achievement

One of her most notable accomplishments is becoming the first woman to climb a route graded 9b (5.15b) with La Panta de Shiva, setting a new benchmark for female climbers worldwide. This achievement underscores her pioneering role in advancing women’s climbing to new heights.

Header image by Toni Mas Buchaca



Meet Angel, a former desk-jockey turned global wanderer. After catching a severe case of the climbing (and travel) bug, she's now a world traveller, living the dirtbag dream. Highballs? Too mainstream for her taste. She's all about the thrills of lowballs, where the real action happens. Nowadays, you'll find her in Thailand, either precariously balanced on a granite slab or trading stories with Nemo and his buddies underwater!

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