Beth Rodden is ‘Climbing Back’

By Outdoor Research, 09 March 2014

  • DATE

    09 March 2014


    Outdoor Research


    Rock Climbing

A note from Beth Rodden: With climbing films, or any film for that matter, it’s easy to forget that there is someone behind the lens capturing what is on screen. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Josh and Brett Lowell at Big Up Productions for the past 10 years. Going through the process of working on a big project such as The Optimist (Dosage 3), The Nose (Dosage 4) or Meltdown (Dosage 5), is a massive undertaking when emotions can be all over the place, the highs and the lows. Josh and Brett are incredible to work with, being so respectful of the climber that I sometimes forget that they are hanging on the rope right behind me.

In this recent piece, Climbing Back, it was great to reunite with them to tell a story that every athlete faces when dealing with injuries. 

I’m looking forward to many more projects and trips with them, and hope you enjoy it!

















For more than a decade, Outdoor Research Athlete Ambassador Beth Rodden proved that women could climb just as hard—if not harder—than men. She was the youngest woman to ever climb 5.14, climbing To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a, 8b+) at Oregon’s Smith Rock in 1998. She went on to co-establish the first free ascent of Lurking Fear (5.10 A3) on Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2000, establish the first free ascent of Smith Rock’s The Optimist (5.14b) in 2005, and redpoint Yosemite’s Meltdown (proposed 5.14c) in 2008. At a proposed grade of 5.14c, Meltdown is considered the hardest climb in Yosemite and the hardest trad pitch in the United States. Beth’s ascent of Meltdown was the most difficult ascent of any route by an American woman and remains the hardest trad route ascent established by a woman anywhere.

In June of 2009, Beth tore the labrum in her right shoulder while bouldering in Yosemite and subsequently reinjured the shoulder twice. For this elite climber, it was the most serious of a series of untimely and debilitating injuries including a broken ankle and a torn collateral ligament in both index fingers. In the end, Beth decided her best bet for a full recovery was surgery to repair the tear.

Forced to dial back the intensity and difficulty of her climbing as she heals, Beth says the time recovering from her injuries and subsequent surgery has allowed her to reconnect with the basic joys of rock climbing that first drew her to the sport. Says Beth, “Climbing outside with friends in some of the most beautiful places I can imagine — this is all I need.”

“But I have to admit,” she continues, “I definitely think about some of my unfinished projects.”

At Outdoor Research, where Beth is now working with our design team to produce world-class rock climbing apparel and gear, we’re all wishing her a quick return to the elite level she first pioneered.

And if we know Beth like we think we do, we’re sure she’ll get there soon.

Watch “Climbing Back” to see Beth tackling her long road to recovery.

Check out Beth’s favorite Outdoor Research rock climbing apparel and gear:

Women’s Ferrosi Hoody –

Men’s Ferrosi Hoody –

Women’s AirBrake Gloves –

Men’s AirBrake Gloves –

Women’s Echo Tee –

Men’s Echo Tee –

Women’s Whirlwind Hoody –

Men’s Whirlwind Hoody -

Women’s Wallflower Pants –

Men’s Runout Pants -

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research® is Designed by Adventure®. We provide Innovation and Inspiration for the Relentless Adventurer. Based in Seattle, Outdoor Research was founded in 1981 after a failed piece of gear on an Alaskan climbing expedition inspired ideas for a better design.

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