For the first time ever, it’s not just pro climbers hitting the big screen. This January, revered climber Chris Sharma and (climbing obsessed) celebrity Jason Momoa star in the world’s first-ever climbing reality show called The Climb. Like an outdoorsy version of American Idol, the show offers ten amateur athletes a shot at a pro climbing career — and a $100,000 prize. The catch? To win, they first have to master six hair-raising challenges in some of the world’s most intimidating climbing locales.
Each episode pits the contestants against a different climbing discipline. In episode one, the group battles limestone cliffs that arch out over the thrashing waves of the Mediterranean. In episode six, they face the tricky sandstone cracks of Indian Creek, Utah. Competitors that reach the top of each route move on to the next level. Those that fall near the bottom are sent to an elimination round.
The challenges are judged by Sharma and co-host Meagan Martin (of American Ninja Warrior fame). After each episode, a climber is eliminated. But while the show is certainly a competition, the producers worked hard to showcase the climbing community’s collaborative spirit. The competitors cheer for one another. They exchange hugs while bundled up against the sea spray in Mallorca, Spain. In nearby Siurana, they support each other through intense emotional highs and lows. As a result, the show’s vibe is much more Great British Baking Show than it is Survivor.
Show developers indicate that the heart-warming result was all part of the plan; according to Sharma, the show’s primary goal was to celebrate and inspire the next generation of climbing enthusiasts.
“Most people that go climbing find that it fundamentally changes them on a deep level. It changes how they view the world. It changes how they view life,” he says in episode one. “I’m a firm believer that the more people are climbing, the better the world’s going to be.”
The other good news is that the show isn’t just for die-hard climbers, either. Each episode begins with a quick run-down of the challenge at hand, explaining the essential skills and techniques required for success. The contestants come from a wide range of climbing backgrounds, and their varying weaknesses and motivations come into play in surprising ways throughout the season.
Three episodes are available now, and another three launch on January 26, 2022. You can tune in and keep an eye out for updates at HBOmax.com.