Jonathan Siegrist: An Accomplished Sport Climber

By: Derek Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023

Bio

Jonathan Siegrist is a professional climber from Wisconsin who is well known in the climbing world for his achievements in sport climbing. Unlike many other great climbers of this generation, Jonathan didn’t start rock climbing young, and didn’t take much interest until he was eighteen years old. He tried bouldering as a form of cross training for downhill mountain bike racing and fell in love.

My dad introduced me to climbing when I was young. He has been climbing for like 40 years. I would follow him on easy trad climbs, but I didn’t have a personal relationship to climbing until I was 18. I would go climbing maybe three times a year with my dad, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really found climbing.”

Stats

DOB: 9/27/1985
Ape Index: +1.5 inches
Started Climbing: 2004
Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin

After college, he lived out of his truck and camped full time, and spent some time in Europe to pursue climbing. He has explored many different styles of climbing: he started out with routes that had historical significance, especially Tommy Caldwell routes; from there, he grew into routes with small holds and footwork; followed by periods of trad climbing and cave climbing.

Climbing became a way for Jonathan to push his limits and pursue goals while travelling and building a lifestyle that he thoroughly enjoys. Over the years, he’s climbed stacks of difficult first ascents, numerous 5.15 redpoints, and well over three hundred 5.14+ sends. At 37 years old, he’s still an avid sport climber who sends big walls, trad routes, and boulders. According to 8a.nu, as of late 2022, he was sixth in the world for the most sends 5.14d or higher.

On May 2, 2022, Jonathan got engaged to his girlfriend of five years, Shaina Savoy. You can keep up with more recent updates from Jonathan Siegrist by following him on Instagram and his website. In 2022, he was featured on The Struggle Climbing Show podcast, which you can listen to for free.

Notable Climbs

Kinder Cakes (5.15a) – 2022

In 2022, Jonathan took the first repeat of Joel Kinder’s Kinder Cakes (5.15a). It was Rifle Canyon’s (Colorado) hardest route and is a predominantly horizontal roof climb that’s reminiscent of Europe. It took him a couple of weeks and he said on Instagram that “clipping the chains was another one of those hugely relieving moments!” You can watch the video here.

First Ascent of Full Metal Brisket (5.15a) – 2020

Power Inverter, Another 5.15 in 2015

In addition to his success with Biographie, La Rambla, and Papichulo (all 5.15a/9a+), Jonathan claimed his fourth 5.15+ with Power Inverter in Oliana, Spain. These progressions marked incredible progress in his climbing abilities, and added another classic to his tick list.

Jonathan’s Third 5.15a Papichulo – 2015

Jonathan’s third 5.15a was Papichulo in Oliana, Spain, back in 2015. It’s a 45-metre endurance route that was first established by Chris Sharma in 2008. Jonathan and his climbing partner, Sam Elias, struggled with warm temperatures on the south facing cliff, but said in an interview that they were “both so stoked to get after it” so they spent 7-8 days climbing in the sun and at night with headlamps.

During that time, it was one of the most repeated 5.15’s in the world, with big names on its list of ascents. In summer of 2022, the area experienced a big fire and the routes are no longer the same as they were.

Le Cadre Nouvelle Version (5.14d) in Céüse – 2015

Going back to the Biographie wall at Céüse, France, Jonathan continued his European adventure with La Cadre Nouvelle Version (5.14d). The original route was Le Cadre (5.14b) but local Sylvain Millet bolted a variation that avoids a manufactured section of the route. This created the new version, which changed the grade to 5.14d and was first redpointed by Adam Ondra in 2010. Jonathan had been battling with it since he arrived in France earlier in the month, and finally sent it mid-May. He said on his blog: “For me this was a hard one and a memorable one. I learned a lot from this route.”

La Rambla, 2nd 5.15a – 2015

On a trip to Spain in 2015, Jonathan’s primary objective was La Rambla (5.15a), a legendary 41-metre sport climb that was first opened by Alex Huber in 1994. It was originally suggested to be 5.14c, but the first repeat (Ramon Julian Puigblanque) extended the line by linking into another route, proposing 5.15a instead. The ‘new’ rating has stuck thus far, and the route has been climbed by big names like Adam Ondra, Chris Sharma, and Alex Megos.

For his first 5.15, Jonathan sent Biographie (5.14a) in Céüse, France, in the summer of 2014.

Jonathan on La Rambla. Photo by Colette McInerny.

More Hard New Routes at Idaho’s Fins in 2014

In early fall of 2014, Jonathan spent ten days at the Fins in Eastern Idaho and added five new routes. And so emerged Mind Your Manors (5.14a/b), A Date With She-Ra (5.14a), Year of the Ox (5.13d), The Antidote (5.13d), and Off To Be the Wizard (5.14c). All of these routes require a steep hike upwards of 20-30 minutes to reach their locations on Solstice Wall, Yellow Cake Wall, and Discovery Wall.

This was Jonathan’s third early-fall trip to this area and each year he succeeded in putting out multiple hard new routes, including nine 5.14 and multiple 5.13’s. You can read more about his trip and his new routes on his blog.

Wyoming’s Hardest – Moonshine (5.14d) in July of 2013

At the time, Moonshine (5.14d) was Wyoming’s hardest pitch. Located at Wild Iris (Erratic crag), it was the state’s first 5.14d and it was established by BJ Tilden in August of 2012. It packs 9a into only 30 feet of climbing, and Jonathan said “it’s a spectacular line.” After struggling over the course of several days, Jonathan doubted he could make anything work. But with some encouragement and a belay from BJ, Jonathan topped out the crag.

2nd Ascent of Mission Impossible (5.14c/d) – 2012

On the Wall of the 90’s in Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado, Mission Impossible was bolted by Jay Samuelson in 2010 and first sent by Daniel Woods in early 2012. Daniel’s proposed grade was 5.14d, and Jonathan climbed it in late 2012, suggesting it may be closer to 5.14c. On his blog, Jonathan said “Mission Impossible is a pretty cool line, and a unique style.”

Pure Imagination (5.14d) First Ascent – 2010

Pure Imagination (5.14d) is located in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in the Chocolate Factory area. Previously called the Honeycomb Project, Jonathan Siegrist claimed the first ascent in November of 2010. On his blog, Jonathan said “This route exhibits some incredible movement, and a lot of hard climbing. It’s very bouldery, sharp, and crimpy. I thoroughly enjoyed climbing on this route, and I’m honored to have done it’s first ascent.” You can watch the video of him clipping the chains here.

Cover photo from Jonathan’s blog.

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About The Author

Derek, Co-Founder at Know Nothing Nomads

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers.

Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me.

When I'm not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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