Elite world class climbers who are short
Are there any world-class climbers who are short? Let’s be honest being short had never been an advantage in most sports. Climbing should not be an exception. Or so you think. Let’s take a look at these elite climbers who are short. To put things into context, according to the internet to be considered short for men is less than 1.70 m (5.6 ft). For women less than 1.58 m (5.2 ft).
Short men climbers
Sean Bailey 1.63 m (5.3 ft)
Sean Bailey is one of the shortest men competition climbers in the IFSC World Cup. At a height of 1.63 m, he is about the same height as most women competition climbers. However, his performance in both the lead and boulder World Cup circuit is impressive. 2021 was an amazing year for Sean. With 4 IFSC World Cup podium finishes. First place in boulder at Salt Lake City and in lead at Villars and Chamonix.
On the outdoor achievement side, Sean has sent Biographie, a 5.15a (9a+) in Céüse, France. Joe Mama another 5.15a (9a+) in Oliana, Spain. In 2021 Sean sent his hardest sport route Bibliographie, a 5.15c (9b+) route next to his previous project, Biographie, in Céüse. This route was sent by Alex Megos in 2020 and by Stefano Ghisolfi in 2021.
For bouldering, Sean had sent 2 V16 (8C+) boulders, Box Therapy in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, and Grand Illusion in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.
Sascha Lehmann 1.64 m (5.4 ft)
Swiss climber Sascha Lehmann burst onto the scene in Villar 2019. A flawless performance to win the Villar lead world cup in a stacked field consisting of Alex Megos, Stefano Ghisolfi and Tomoa Narasaki. A climb that many taller climbers were unable to top.
Kai Harada 1.69 m (5.5 ft)
Besides qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games which is a tremendous achievement. Kai Harada had also won the 2018 IFSC Boulder World Championships title in Innsbruck. Kai was the shortest climber in the finals. Competing against some of the best boulderers in the world such as Adam Ondra, Tomoa Narasaki and Alex Megos. He won convincingly by being the only climber to top all problems in the semis and finals.
Short women climbers
Brooke Raboutou 1.58 m (5.2 ft)
Brooke Raboutou is the daughter of the former world champion rock climbers Didier and Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou. Started climbing as soon as she can walk, Brooke had broken numerous records at a very young age. She is the youngest female to climb a 5.13b (8a) at age 9. At age 10, she became the youngest female to climb 5.13d (8b). And at 11, she was the youngest female to send 5.14b (8c). That was when she was a child much shorter than she is now at 1.58 m.
Brooke Raboutou senior break out year was in 2021. She qualified for Tokyo Olympics and had 3 podium finishes in IFSC World Cups.
Camilla Moroni 1.57 m (5.2 ft)
Camilla Moroni 2nd place finished in the 2021 IFSC Moscow Boulder World Championship was the highlight of her 2021 season. She was the shortest climber in the finals but was able to top all 4 boulder problems in style. Only Natalia Grossman who had an unstoppable 2021 season beat Camilla to the top spot on the podium.
Ai Mori 1.54 m (5.1 ft)
Ai Mori had always been known as an amazing lead climber since she started competing in 2017 winning the IFSC Asian and World Youth Championship. In 2019, Ai Mori started competing at the senior level and had some good results finishing on the podium 3 times. Ai Mori did not compete at all in 2020 and 2021. Her first competition after a 2 years hiatus was IFSC Koper Lead World Cup which she went on to become the only climber to defeat Janja Garnbret (1.64 m) in 2022. Ai Mori won gold in Koper and she repeated the feat again in Edinburgh.
The final World Cup of 2022 was the Boulder and Lead combined format. Ai Mori again proves that being short can be an advantage in climbing. She overcame her lack of reach with fantastic footwork going toe to toe with the overall 2022 Boulder World Cup winner Natalia Grossman. And Ai Mori went on to win the combined finals by a huge margin with an amazing performance in lead.
Laura Rogora 1.52 m (5.0 ft)
Laura Rogora is by far the shortest climber in the women’s field at 1.52 m. But her resume will surprise you. She has an impressive (and long) list of onsights, redpoints and first ascents. Some of her hardest ascents are 9b Erebor, 9a+ Ali Hulk, 9a+ Rodellar, 9a+ Pure Dreaming Plus and 9a+ The Bow. She had also qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
As of competition, Laura has 2 IFSC Lead World Cup wins under her belt. She finished first in Chamonix 2021 and in Briancon 2020 where she beat Janja Garnbret.
Height is not an issue
So if you think being short is a disadvantage in climbing think again. Some of the top climbers are short and that does not seem to be hindering their ability to outperform taller climbers. So being a short climber is not a disadvantage.