Josh Larson was 14 years old when, at a carnival, he decided to try the climbing wall. It was nothing major—about 25 feet, he recalls—but the instructor was impressed and made a deal with him. “He said, ‘If you climb this other route, which is the hardest one, we’ll give you a harness, and you can go back home and find a climbing gym.’”
Larson is now an elite climber. He’s head coach of the USA Climbing National Team, which governs competitive climbing in the U.S., and in 2018, he and his wife established a new route in the Peruvian Andes, becoming the first people ever to discover that specific way up the 15,000-foot-tall cliffs.
“I love that it mentally pushes me day in and day out, but I also love the community,” he says. When people try it, “it changes their life, and they’re addicted.”
Indoor and outdoor rock climbing have spiked in popularity in recent years—including on social-media platforms, where Videos The sport has received billions of views. That’s thanks to a variety of factors: the addition of sport climbing to the 2020 Summer Olympics, a rapidly increasing number of climbing gyms in all pockets of the U.S., and the many physical and…