SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Born and raised by a Syrian immigrant father and a Polish mother in Detroit, self-proclaimed blue-collar climber Sam Elias has summited Everest, podiumed in ice-climbing competitions, and climbs everything from big walls to super-punchy sport climbs. The 36-year-old former ski racer is one of the most well-rounded climbers of his generation, and his creative passions are just as varied as his climbing ones. He’s designed everything from some of his own tattoos to the Beyond the Wall line of clothing for The North Face.
In 2005 at the age of 23, Sam was called to climbing. He left a decent job in Detroit for Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. In between pizza shifts at Miguel’s, he took his climbing from 5.12b to 5.13c. The next season, he climbed 5.14a. Since then, he's been rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and skiing around the West. Sam’s ethos—to trust his instincts and passion—is a daily practice. It’s part of the key to his success as a professional athlete, but looking to his father, who came to America with only $100 and became both a lawyer and a doctor, work ethic and determination certainly play a factor.
Always looking for new ways to connect with people, Elias draws as much inspiration from urban environments as he does from the mountains. When he travels, Elias plots walking tours on his phone to visit museums, parks, cafes or the city’s high point. It's important for him to get a taste of the city’s lifestyle and culture, and to have context to his climbing life and the more wild and natural places.
- First ascents and new routes on 5 continents
- Documentary film “Rooted” about establishing Lebanon’s first 5.14 rock climb
- Climbed Mt. Everest in May of 2012
- Free climbing ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan in June 2014 -- PreMuir route, 35 pitches, 5.13+, 6 days
- First ascents on rock up to 5.14b and winter mixed up to M12
- Sport climbing red points up to 5.14d, on-sight up to 5.13c, trad up to 5.14-
- Ice climbing up to WI6, winter mixed climbing up to M13, on-sight up to M11
- Ouray Ice Competition champion 2019 in Ouray, CO (2nd place in 2010, 2016; 3rd place in 2013, 2018)