I made this page to display some of my prouder moments over the years. Some of the reports here are fairly recent, but the others I took from the news section of my former website. Some of these older pieces date back a pretty long way, and of course are more of a historical record than current news. Looking them over I can see that many of the climbing achievements, especially from the earlier years, can be seen as the baby steps I have taken as I’ve improved my skills and strength as a climber. Yet every one of them was important to me at the time because I tried hard and in some cases poured my heart and soul into the climbs. I hope I have inspired some others to push themselves and to follow in my footsteps. I hope you will achieve your dreams as I have done mine. Thanks to Wills Young for his support, and for doing the writing here, and to everyone else for reading! — Lisa Rands
Lisa joined Peter Croft on a lightning fast trip into the Sierra backcountry. Peter only knows two ways to roll: fast and light. So the pair were only camping for a couple of nights and checked off two outstanding first ascents, one on each day. See Lisa’s trip report.
Lisa had to try hard to finish first in the 2011 Bouldering Master, sponsored by The North Face. Lisa flew into Santiago a week before the competition to have a chance to relax. It was an amazing trip meeting so many great people, and the event was a big hit with the competitors and with the audience!
Lisa teamed up with a film crew from The Reel Rock Film Tour to climb at the Hulk and capture on film Lisa’s attempt to make a flash ascent of the route, exchanging leads with her mentor and long-time climbing hero, Peter Croft. >>Read more.
Another classic bites the dust. Lisa used some ridiculous short girl skills to get up this ‘reachy’ line! Video still at left. After figuring out her “beta” on this one, she was almost too tired to get it done before dark, but just managed to squeeze out the ascent. More: http://bishopbouldering.blogspot.com/2009/03/lisa-rands-climbs-xaviers-roof.html
A boulder problem that deserves to be named for an epic novel by Salman Rushdie. Beginning low with overhead heel-hooks and sideways climbing out a shallow cave, Lisa gained the steep looming overhang above with a very long move to gain a good crimp. The full story involved 25 moves to top out on this giant line! See: http://bishopbouldering.blogspot.com/2009/03/lisa-rands-haroun-and-sea-of-stories.html
It was a whirlwind trip to South America for Lisa and Daniel Woods of The North Face team, who flew into Santiago to compete in the continent’s biggest bouldering competition. It was a successful trip for the two Americans who both topped the podium in the event! (Image: Matias Pinto Pooley http://www.flickr.com/photos/matpinto/)
This line in South Africa’s Rocklands, like California’s The Mandala at the Buttermilks, is a historic testpiece of iconic status in the bouldering community. This one, first done by Swiss legend Fred Nicole captured Lisa’s imagination and nothing would get between her and completing this ascent, not even the 10,000 miles of land and ocean between her home and the golden sandstone of the Cedarberg Mountains.
It was the first dedicated sport climbing trip for Lisa as she traveled out to China with a team from The North Face to check out the climbing aroud Yangshuo. Despite being known for her bouldering power, Lisa quickly adapted to the rope and made short work of the route Lightning (given 5.14a at the time). She climbed the lower 5.13b/c section after only brief work, and soon after that had the 5.14 linked to the top too! The route has later settled at a lower grade according to most conscensus.
Lisa climbs The Mandala (v12), Buttermilks, California Jan 18 2008: This problem has gained almost mythical status as one of the most popular and most famous lines in the world, and for good reason: it is an extraordinary climb. Lisa was psyched to achieve this goal that she’s been aiming for since when she first started trying it last season. A torn bicep, weird weather conditions, a mystery illness, and a flim project revolving around her ascent of the super-highball This Side of Paradise kept her from success, but this season, third day, third try, she nailed the extremely big first move to perfection, and powered through the rest of the sequence with precision, only hesitating for a second before turning the lip onto an ice-covered summit.
Lisa Wins Bouldering Regional Jan 12 2008:
Ventura, California: In a quest to qualify for the National Bouldering Championships, Lisa drove down to Ventura to compete in the ABS series regional at the gym there: Vertical Heaven. It was a fun event that was really well attended, especially in the mens field. Lisa beat out one of the stronger women competition climbers, Alex Puccio, to win the comp and was within a whisker of flashing all the finals problems (falling with her fingers touching the last hold of the last problem). Alex showed up out of the blue from Colorado to surprise Lisa. All in all a great training session to prepare for the real projects outside!
Lisa flew in from California to compete in the third and final leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series, held at the Stone Fort (a.k.a. Little Rock City), near Chattanooga. This outstanding sandstone area provides one of the densest concentrations of world-class bouldering in the United States. It had been three years since Lisa last competed at the area, and having missed the previous two events held at Hound Ears and Horse Pens 40 she had no chance of winning the series title. Nevertheless, she was ready to test herself against the strongest local climbers on their home turf, get an amazing workout, and enjoy some incredible bouldering.
At this event climbers compete by scoring their best 10 problems climbed among the 250+ natural lines established at this popular public area. It may not be a “fair” competition, but it is a lot of fun, and a daunting test of skill for visiting “rock stars” such as Paul Robinson (this year’s men’s winner) and Tony Lamiche (who won the event last year).
Lisa felt good on the day and dispatched four v8s, five v9s and crushed the v10 Bedwetters on her second try, gaining first ahead of the talented Kate McGinnis who was the winner of the overall series.
Climbing Magazine Report: http://www.climbing.com/news/hotflashes/triplecrownstoneft07/
Rocklands, South Africa: Exploring previously undiscovered boulders is a dream to most climbers. In the Rocklands it was reality for Lisa and a team of ardent adventure-seekers from across the US. At two entirely new areas, Lisa climbed two beautiful aretes. The first — a sit-start — took her a while because of a long move at the top which she kept fluffing. It is dubbed Lisa’s Arete. See a photo of it in the Destinations section, Rocklands 2007. The second line at the New-New sector was a stunning leaning square-cut prow with super-burly moves over a pretty sketchy landing: Backbone (v10) shown here.
Lisa on TV! July 2007:
In a segment for the show Jeep World of Adventure Sports on the mainstream national television channel NBC, Lisa is featured climbing This Side of Paradise at the Buttermilks, Bardini Boulders — see the news below. All the climbing footage, which includes a few problems at the main Buttermilks area too, is really well shot by Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer. There is awesome footage of Lisa’s ascent of the scary highball This Side of Paradise, shot in beautiful light.
Lisa made the first female (and fourth overall) ascent of the stunning Bishop, California, testpiece This Side of Paradise (v10), at the Bardini Boulders, first climbed only a little over a year ago by Matt Wilder. This line (aka The Bardini Arete) gained a reputation as one of the greatest lines in Bishop long before it was finally climbed, and certainly remains one of the boldest and most sustained as well as the most aesthetic. The crux, a huge move to a pinch just below the lip, comes with the feet about 20 feet up. Being short, Lisa had to pull her weight up onto her left foot, perched on a knob, high on the steeply overhanging arete, and make an enormous lock-off to the pinch from a very bad right-hand crimp. Above the pinch came a pair of crimps and a moment of contemplation before the mental crux, a bold and punchy dyno to a good jug. Lisa needed a steady nerve to gain the slab and complete the line.
The latest DVD from Big Up Productions (www.bigupproductions.com) features Lisa making her groundbreaking ascent of Gaia (E8) at Black Rocks on the gritstone of England. This excellent DVD includes must-see footage of top climbers Chris Sharma, Dave Graham, Tommy Caldwell, and others climbing the most amazing lines around the world. Lisa’s segment is a gripping account of her battle with nerves as she attempts Gaia. It splices the shocking scene from Hard Grit (a film by Mark Turnbull and Richard Heap) in which a climber takes a death-defying fall from the route, with footage of Lisa’s ascent. Read Lisa’s account of that ascent here.
Rocklands, South Africa: It’s a rare thing for Lisa to find a first ascent of any boulder problem, but one as beautiful as Pinotage is truly extraordinary. When she and her household of climbers found this area, The Sassies, in Rocklands, they knew they had discovered gold. First ascents were made left and right and Lisa waited for cold conditions to attempt this stunning sit-start she named Pinotage in honor of a local wine grape. What a line! Perfect crimps lead to a huge move past a sloper to a diagonal crack.
E is for extreme and Gaia’s E8 grade makes it one of the most extreme routes ever climbed by a woman. This sweet-looking, enticing line tackles a shallow groove in a free-standing 50-foot tall prow at Black Rocks, England. It was made famous in a sequence from Hard Grit, a film by Richard Heap and Mark Turnbull, which opens to Jean-Minh Trinh-Thieu (a top French climber) taking a harrowing fall from the climb’s precarious upper section, breaking his leg.
The do-or-die section comes near the top, where a mistake crossing a tenuous section of sloping holds, climbed on pure friction, carries the risk of hitting the ground from 40 feet, or swinging into the lower arete. Lisa waited for appropriate conditions to make the ascent–a week of amped-up nights, as weather changed from rain to snow to sun and back again.
“When you reach the top you get this crazy adrenaline rush and excitement that you don’t get when you do something 100 percent safe,” she says. This was Lisa’s second E8 after The End of the Affair. She is the only woman to have climbed a route this grade.
There were frustrating conditions in Fontainebleau, France, as is typical of the area, but Lisa was able to make a rare female ascent of some spectacular lines. One of these was Haute Tension, (v10) a beautiful tall wall at Cuvier Rempart, with the crux up high, and Megalithe (v10) at Rocher Greau, near Nemours, a pretty highball arete that takes a steady head. She climbed both ground-up. See the report of her trip to Fontainebleau in the On The Road section of this website.
In a weekend at the end of February, Lisa Rands pulled off two amazing female firsts: So High and Planet X in Joshua Tree. She climbed the impressive and awe-inspiring So High ground-up, bouldering it out above a couple of bouldering pads! So High is a famous ultra-highball problems in the United States and certainly deserves its name. More photos and Lisa’s words here.
On Christmas day, Lisa Rands and Wills Young made a fast all-free ascent of Saint Exupery Spire, in the Fitzroy Range of Patagonia, via the excellent 2800-feet long 22-pitch rock route Clara de Luna (VI, 5.11). Lisa led the crux pitches, and the pair simul-climbed the entire line in around 6 hours. This may well be the first free ascent of the popular Clara de Luna by a woman. From the Polakos bivi site on the Torre Glacier, the climb sits atop a 3 hour, 3000-vertical-feet approach. For more info about Lisa’s Patagonia trip, see the On The Road section of this website.
July 2005: No it’s not the swimsuit edition. In their July 27 2005 “Bonus Adventure” section, Sports Illustrated, the world’s best-selling sports magazine, ran an amusing interview with Lisa.
Petzl’s set-up for the “invitational” event was a relatively informal competition between top athletes including such stars as Lynn Hill, Liv Sansoz, and accomplished local Thomasina Pidgeon (a.k.a. the climber formerly known as Darlene). At the end of the day, Lisa made an inspired send of the striking highball testpiece, Ride the Lightning (V8), which she climbed from the low start, putting her win beyond contention. She also climbed the second female ascent of No Troublems.
With her ascent of the powerful and bold Shine On, her third E7/8, Lisa continues to push female climbing and change the image of what is possible for a woman in the sport. That such an ascent is about total confidence is a given for any line of this grade, but in this case — an overhang with big moves off small crimps and sloping pockets — it is also about strength and dynamic power.
Being short means Lisa has to make a huge move around the lip, and she had to call on her bouldering muscle to complete the sequence. While it is not such an airy undertaking as The End of the Affair or other famous “death routes” on the grit, it is in every way a mini-classic, a gem in the Stanage crown.
The introduction states: “Each January, Climbing reviews the performances of the year: who was bold or strong, what was off-the-map wild, which “last great problems” finally went down … and choose the dozen or so absolute best efforts of the year.”
Lisa received the award for her ascent, the first of an E8 by any woman: “An eerie flash of brilliance from a cultish discipline shunned by most women, was Lisa Rands’ ascent of The End of the Affair at Curbar edge, one of British gritstone’s classic E8s” ― Climbing Magazine.
Lisa won the Little Rock City bouldering competition at the diverse and extensive bouldering area not far from Chattanooga, Tennessee. On a long-awaited blue-sky southern winter day, a crowd of hundreds of competitors were shuttled from downtown Chattanooga to Little Rock City for this, the final round of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. The day began crisply with fine temps, perfect for pulling on this fantastically featured sandstone, and turned almost balmy by the afternoon. Lisa climbed strongly to create a giant margin of victory in this three-part series. [Andrew Kornylak photo.]
Lisa won the HP40 bouldering competition at the amazing Fontainebleau-esque bouldering playground near Steele Alabama. On a perfect warm sunny day there was a huge crowd of climbers for the event which had a festival atmosphere. Lisa made short work of two V9s, Slider and Ghetto Superstar, plus a slew of V8s such as the awkward Law Dog and the slopey Consumption to give her a big margin of victory.
Lisa led the stunning arête The End of the Affair (E8 6c) at Curbar Edge, England, to become the first woman ever to lead a traditional E8 at Britain’s most popular climbing playground The Peak District. The route was first climbed by gritstone aficionado and technical master Johnny Dawes back in 1986, and marked the end of his most prolific streak of death-defying ascents. For shorter climbers, the holdless rounded arête with its huge reaches presents a truly mind-bending proposition. Due to its awesome appearance, The End of the Affair soon became the most sought-after hard-grit line in the Peak, along with another Dawes testpiece Gaia.
Lisa won the Hound Ears bouldering competition at this outstanding bouldering area near Boone, North Carolina. It was a beautiful early fall day with the leaves just beginning to turn color. A sprinkle of rain in the early afternoon wet some of the topouts and dampened scorebooks for a short while, slowing the accumulation of points, but as the skies brightened toward evening, conditions became better and better and it turned out to be another fantastic event. This was the third time Lisa has competed at Hound Ears, and it was her third win. The competition was the first of the “Triple Crown” series.
Invited by climbing equipment manufacturer Petzl to attend the Petzl Roc Trip in Targasonne, France, Lisa joined around 500 climbers there. She had a great few days at this beautiful bouldering area high in the Pyrenees and made fast ascents of numerous area testpieces. On the Saturday of the big gathering, she inspired everyone by climbing Tony Lamiche’s beautiful, tall V10, Absinthe, in just two tries. Later, she made short work of another V10 — making two V10s in the same afternoon (neither of which she had tried before).
“I was really motivated to get fit for this trip. What a treat to get there, and find such amazing granite boulders all over the place!” says Lisa. [Photo: Stephan Denys.]
Lisa wins 2004 Phoenix BoulderBlast!April 25 2004:
Lisa pulled off her third consecutive victory at the world’s largest outdoor climbing competition, held in the Queen Creek bouldering area near Phoenix, Arizona. Several hundred climbers competed and several hundred more showed up just for the party.
Only half an hour into the contest, Lisa split her index finger deeply when she caught it on a sharp edge as she jumped down from a move. “I was feeling really strong, but I split my finger so bad that I was struggling to climb,” says Lisa. “Even though I ended up with about half my last years’ scores, I felt like I put in about twice as much effort!”
“The one good thing about that day was that Gina was mixing great margaritas at the Voodoo booth. … I think I’ll be taking a few days off now.”
Curbar is one of the major grit edges on the east of the Peak, not far from Sheffield. White Lines (E7 6b/c) was first done by Johnny Dawes and has extremely thin climbing up an unprotected near-vertical wall culminating in a precarious high-step, using a tiny, embedded one-finger crystal for support with the right hand. This 30-foot wall is followed by a rest and gear at a horizontal break, then some slopey moves around an overlap and a bold and exposed finish over a four-foot overhang protected by micro-cams of doubtful worth. The route is on immaculate rock with great positions.
Lisa is only the second woman to do an E7 on grit, and the first to do one in nearly 10 years (Airlie Anderson “headpointed” Master’s Edge in 1994). Lisa headpointed White Lines in traditional “hard grit” style — leading it after top-rope practice. Because she’d done the route first on top-rope, she opted not to use crash pads for the lead ascent.
“The weather was really sunny and humid and conditions were terrible. When I top-roped it, it felt desperate. I felt like I could fall off every move. We had waited all afternoon for conditions to get better. I looked around and saw my friends sitting there watching. The sun was about to set. and I said to myself, ‘It might rain all of next week: I should go for it now!’
I focused as hard as I could and tried to use perfect technique for every move. During the crux I never looked down, other than to see my feet. Once I got through the initial boulder problem, I really focused on relaxing. I placed the last bit of gear and convinced myself it would hold. Then I stayed as relaxed as I could pulling over the top roof, and felt very solid.
It is a really good feeling when it all clicks and you just climb and feel more solid than you do on a top-rope. It’s a game of learning to control your own fears and put your mind in a relaxed place, even though you know there is the potential to get hurt. It was very rewarding because I felt that I put so much mental energy into it. I didn’t feel disappointed. The climbing definitely didn’t feel easy.” — Lisa Rands
Lins wins Phoenix Bouldering Contest, April 26 2003: Lisa pulled down strongly again at the world’s biggest and wildest outdoor climbing competition, the internationally renowned Phoenix Bouldering Contest. There was a new format this year in which only FIVE problems (down from eight last year) were scored from a list of just 14 alternatives (an attempt to make the challenge more equal for all the top-tier climbers). Lisa’s 4200-point total was nearly three times greater than that of her nearest rival.
Lisa wins Petzl Roc Comp, April 12 2003: Lisa dominates at the Petzl Roc Comp in Baltimore, Maryland To win the Petzl Roc Comp competition, Lisa cranked off all four finals problems in front of a huge crowd of 700+ spectators raucously crammed into the Earth Treks Gym in Timonium, near Baltimore, Maryland. No other women managed the last two.
Hueco Tanks v12s, March 2003: Lisa spent a few weeks at Hueco Tanks, Texas, early this spring having to wait out strangely warm weather nearly to the end. On the last weekend of her visit, Lisa completed both Chablanke and Sarah — two V12-rated problems — on consecutive days (29-30 March). The problems are listed as V12 by Fred Nicole in his tick-list printed in Climbing Magazine last year. Sarah is a problem that begins with a sit-start on underclings in a roof and turns a lip to finish with a very tricky rock-over on a slab (the stand start Lisa flashed). Chablanke is a sit-start to the super-classic Sign of The Cross. It has technical and powerful moves using bad pinches on a 40-degree overhang.
Two days later, under pressure to leave, Lisa also pulled off an ascent of Woman With a Hueco in Her Head (V10) a face-climbing testpiece on the world-famous Mushroom Boulder. Though not rated as high as other problems she climbed, Lisa found it the most satisfying “send” of her trip!
Over the preceding weeks, Lisa made quick work (in a short session or a couple of tries) of: Swiss Crisp Mix (V10), Dirty Martini (V9), Dragonfly Sit-start (V9), Sex After Death (V9), and flashed many classic Hueco classics including Better Eat Your Wheaties (V8), Mushroom Roof (V8), Something Different (V8), Mr Serious (V8), Wild Turkey Roof (V8), Right El Murray (V8), and the ultra-classic Center El Murray (V6).
Lisa crushing at Petzl Roc Trip, Bishop, December 2002: Lisa cranks at the Buttermilks for the Petzl bouldering benefit, climbing to donate dollars toward the Access Fund. “It was a really fun day. I hadn’t been bouldering much before arriving [from England], and I was bleeding out of six fingertips by the end of the event!” says Lisa. The scores were taken as the best eight sends of the day plus $25 bonus for climbing a circuit of “classics.” Lisa skipped the “classics,” missed the easy bonus cash, but got stuck into the boulders, pulling 138 dollars for her best eight: Center Direct (V9), Moonraker (V9), Soulslinger (V9), High Plains Drifter (V7), Change of Heart (V7), Pain Grain Sit-start (V7), Saigon (V6), Smooth Shrimp (V6) … Welcome back to the world of crimping! All money went to the Access Fund.
E5/6 Flash, September-October 2002: Lisa learns to trad climb on the venerated gritstone cliffs of England. Her best efforts were a flash of a “don’t fall” E5/6 called Nosferatu, a “headpoint” ascent of Pebble Mill (E5) without spotters or pads.
Lisa wins international competition, July 27 2002: France’s biggest and longest-running bouldering competition the famous Open des Ecrins at L’Argentiere against a huge international field. Quote from Desnivel report of the time: “As for the Superfinal, the protagonist of the day was undoubtedly the American Lisa Rands, who managed to link the three problems with impressive ease, leaving far behind her top rivals who only managed to top one apiece.”
Lisa crushed this comp being the only woman to flash the last two problems that no others could manage. Sorry, not many images for this!
“In Lecco, the American produced a flawless performance in the final that even [current World Cup] champion Sandrine Levet, third in Lecco, was unable to match. Only the French Corinne Théroux came to threaten Rands, but eventually had to settle for second place.”
Lisa destroyed in this event by flashing ALL SIX finals problems against competitors Sandrine Levet and Corinne Theroux and local favorite Giulia Giammarco.
April 20 2002: Lisa wins the Phoenix Bouldering Contest, the world’s largest outdoor bouldering contest.
Thriller (v10), Feb 28 2002: Lisa climbs Thriller (V10) in Yosemite Valley. This was a first female ascent that meant a lot to Lisa as she considered the line one of the most beautiful problems she had seen.