Featured Image

The Climb Finale Recap: Episode 8, Top of the Tops

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet,” William Blake once wrote. True, but the famous poet might have tweaked this line a little if he’d seen the season finale of HBOMax’s nail-biting reality competition The Climb. If there’s one thing that became clear after watching this series, it’s that this sport offers an even playing field to whoever is brave enough to try it. 

Your gender, your body-type, your age, do not matter. You have just as much of a shot as topping a rock as the next guy. Or girl. Or whoever. You just need the skill, stamina and fire to get to the top.

The final three, vying for a $100,000 cash prize and a $100,000 sponsorship from prAna, comes down to a woman (Robyn), a transgender guy (Cat) and a Black dude (Dom). “It’s a flavorful final,” Dom describes aptly. 

Coming Full Circle

For the finale, host Chris Sharma, heads back to the gnarly seaside cliffs in Mallorca, where he and co-host Jason Momoa started this whole thing. As they discuss the last competition, Sharma doffs his shirt and does a little climbing himself. It’s like whoa, kapow, the guy is so soft spoken but dang, dude’s arms are stacked. Note to producers for next season: Show more Sharma climbing, please. He’s a legend.

Sharma chooses an insanely difficult deep water solo, on a wall called, fittingly, El Diablo for the contestants’ last climbs. It’s the wall that convinced him he needed to move to Spain. It’s 60 feet tall and has multiple extremely difficult routes. “After all that they’ve been through, this feels like the only way to end the competition,” he explains. “It encompasses the whole journey. It’ll be the climb of their life.”

Image by Warner Media

Only one contestant can rise above the rest and win the prize. They’ve conquered climbing the toughest rocks around the world, self-doubts, exhaustion and seven other amateurs who wanted it just as badly as they did. 

Though Cat seems like a shoo-in, you can’t count out Robyn. She’s only flown under the radar the whole time because she’s been so steady and consistent. “Robyn is the most experienced,” Sharma says. “She taps into that predator mode of just executing.”

Dom is super strong physically but he climbs choppy and isn’t fluid. He’s the biggest longshot but the guy is also like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going and going. Never say die, when it comes to Dom.

And who knows how pressure will affect the outcome. The El Diablo deep water solo is twice the distance as the first deep water solo they did. The water is 57 degrees, 20 degrees colder than last time. The stakes get higher as the walls get bigger, as they say. It’s anyone’s game.

It’s also too easy to panic when you’re super high above the water with no equipment. You have to manage your breath and stay calm. “The Diablo wall is scary and definitely makes me anxious,” says Cat, who usually has a good head on his shoulders. 

To decide the climbing order, Cat, Dom and Robyn will have to traverse a wall to get to a spot where they’ll swim through an underwater cave arch thing. First one to freestyle to a buoy wins. Sharma climbs with them to reach the starting point. “This is a great day at the office,” he jokes.

Cat is not a strong swimmer and Dom hates cold water. Robyn goggles up and shows her usual athleticism and beats Dom by one second. She gets to make the order — Cat, Dom, then herself. 

Running With The Devil

The main climb becomes completely horizontal and the upper section contains a cave that makes the climbers disoriented because it blocks their view of the top. They could end up on the wrong route and never know. Cat goes up first and is super solid. He tops.

Dom’s doesn’t seem to bothered on his turn: “Sometimes it takes that little bit of spice to fire me up.” He second guesses his foot movements at first, but then tops. “Oh that is sick,” he says with relief.

The pressure’s really on Robyn now, because not only does she have to send, she has to move quickly. It’s the perfect test of mental fortitude, can she perform when it really matters? Sharma points out that she has a ton of route climbing experience but getting up and over overhangs is one of her weaknesses. 

She gets to the crux but puts her foot up too high…and falls into the sea. It’s over for Robyn. Co-host Meagan Martin cries and so do we. She was always such a light. “I’m really sad it’s over,” she says. “Every week it couldn’t get better and then it does. While I didn’t win I feel inspired to keep impacting other people in positive ways.” 

And The Winner Is…

The final two are Cat and Dom. They both talk about how the mental battle becomes front and center because they both can climb. That’s a given. It’s now about how winning the show will be life changing for both of them. 

The final final climb, like the very last one, is on a crazy route on Diablo called “Ejector Seat” for obvious reasons. It’s 60 feet high, with hard moves leading to the crux at 50 feet. The last 10 feet has small pocket and hard to reach slopers. Cat and Dom will keep climbing this route until one of them makes it to the top. If it takes all day and their arms are pumped and limp, so be it. 

Sharma surprises Cat and Dom with an in person appearance by Momoa on the boat. Cat notes that the superhero is “a very large human. He could deadlift me.” Jason doesn’t want to be a distraction or put more pressure on the guys, so he wishes them luck and steps back. “I’m very proud of you,” he tells them.

When Aquaman has your back on a deep water solo, it’s time to throw down on some amazing rock.

Cat goes first. He’s shirtless, and it’s beyond cool to see a trans guy barechested on national television like it’s no big deal, to be honest. He starts climbing and looks nervous and pumped. Just after the crux, he falls. It’s Dom’s chance to take it.

Dom shows nice flow, this route suits his style of climbing. It’s not technical, it’s more about pulling. But he makes a risky reach below the crux, just four moves below the ejector seat, and falls into the water. 

“When you’re just at your limit or maybe even beyond it, it forces you to rise to the occasion,” Sharma says. 

This is a total battle. The plot thickens.

Cat goes up again…and falls again. 

Dom goes up again…and falls again.

Both climbers are cold, wet, disoriented and pissed.

“This is the most stumped I’ve been,” Dom says. 

Both climbers make adjustments.

Cat sends. “I put up a fight!”

Dom sends. “I’m a little bit better of a climber than I thought,” he beams.

Now what? Can there be two winners? Nope it’s a sudden death scenario on a route called “All Cats Are Black in the Night.” Both climbers are pumped to oblivion but this is not the time to quit. “I know this it,” Cat says. “I can’t give up now.”

Cat goest up first again and it’s hard to choose fingers holds. He’s punching it, his adrenaline won’t let him rest. He falls below the first crux. Once again, it’s Dom’s competition to lose. It’s do or die.

Dom is tired and pumped, too, but he digs deep to “embrace the suck.” He’s trying to get out of pockets as soon as he can. His holds are sketchy. He falls. Below Cat’s mark.

Cat is the winner of The Climb.

Image from Warner Media

I don’t know if everyone is exhausted or what, but there’s no end zone dancing or loud celebration. Just huge embraces and tears all around. These climbers are a class act. 

“I fought until the end,” Dom says. “I didn’t win but I’m proud of how I performed and how I represented myself. My climbing journey is just beginning.”

Cat is super psyched and grateful to be able to share his love of climbing with so many more people. It’s not only life changing for him, but especially for trans kids who can see that “the sky’s the limit.”

The show might be over, but Sharma reminds us that the path never ends. “On this rock we call earth, the potential is limitless.”

Read More About The Climb:

Featured Image

Can You Spot the Hidden Snake in This Photo?

Featured Image

Unlikely Thieves Are Stealing Shoes at a Michigan Campground

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top