Alexander Megos, German Climbing Superstar (2023)
Published on: 02/01/2023
Born in Erlangen, Germany on August 12, 1993, Alexander “Alex” Megos began climbing at the young age of six, under the wing of his father. By the age of 10, he was climbing long multi-pitch routes (upwards of 1,000 feet) with his father. From his early teens, Megos was training religiously at the German Alpine Association base in Erlangen-Nuremberg under the wing of Patrick Matros and Ludwig Korb, who continue to coach Megos to this day.
By 2006, the scrappy German climber was entering competitions; by 2007, he was redpointing sport routes up to 5.13b outside. Drive-by Shooting, his first 5.14b, came only two years later. Megos sent San Ku Kai (5.14d) in 2011, the year before he graduated high school.
While still a teen, Megos won two European Youth Championship titles (2009 and 2010) and was runner-up in 2011. However, after graduating high school in 2012, the 18-year-old Megos devoted himself full-time to climbing. He quickly became one of the world’s most celebrated sport climbers and a successful World Cup participant.
Climbing Style and Specialty
Alex Megos is one of the world’s strongest all-around climbers, with competition wins, hard boulder projects, and hard sport routes under his belt. However, his forté, and the discipline for which he has achieved the most fame, is outdoor sport climbing. Locations like the Red River Gorge (USA) and the Blue Mountains (Australia), not to mention his home crags in the Frankenjura, are filled with Megos’ ticks. He is also the first person in history to onsight a 9a (5.14d) route. In addition to his power and technique, he’s known for his fast projecting ability. For example, during a three-month period in 2014, Megos completed nine climbs ranging from 5.14c to 5.15a, some of the hardest routes in his stomping grounds of Franconian Switzerland.
While competition climbing has never been his primary focus, Megos is a successful competition climber, with several podiums in the IFSC World Cup circuit. To date, he has seven IFSC World Cup medals, won silver for bouldering in the 2017 European Championships, and took bronze and silver (respectively) in the 2018 and 2019 IFSC World Championships.
Alex Megos is best known as the first climber in history to onsight a 5.14d (9a) sport route with Estado Critico in Siurana, Spain. In addition to the first 9a onsight, he also is one of the few climbers to send 5.15 and has established two of the five 5.15c (9b+) routes in existence, Perfecto Mundo and Bibliographie. The latter was initially proposed at 5.15d (9c), but it was downgraded after repeats by Stefano Ghisolfi and Sean Bailey.
Megos has also made a redpoint of six 5.15b (9b) grade routes, half of which were a first ascent. The two most recent of these are The Full Journey, a route bolted by Tom Bolger and sent by Megos in October 2022, and Chris Sharma’s Rastaman Vibrations, which Megos freed in July of the same year.
Competitively, Megos has had success as well, as noted above. In addition to IFSC Climbing World Cup events, he also competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2022) as one of 40 climbers selected for the world’s first sport climbing Olympic event. He earned his slot after his second-place finish in the 2019 IFSC Lead Climbing World Championships. Megos finished the Olympic event in ninth place, just shy of the finals. He is also a regular participant and finalist in La Sportiva’s “Legends Only” competition, winning the event in 2018 against a stacked field of Chon Jongwon, Jernej Kruder, Chris Sharma, Alexey Rubtsov, and Ray Sugimoto. His success on plastic is furthered by the fact that he also holds the high point on Black Diamond’s The Project, a gym route that was considered perhaps the hardest indoor route bolted ever.
Megos has also had success as a boulderer. To date, he has climbed half-a-dozen boulders rated V15 (8C), including the third ascent of the iconic Lucid Dreaming, as well as numerous V14 (8B+) problems.
In addition to climbing, Megos is known as an avid activist. He is known for his slogan “carrots for power” and advocates a plant-based diet, recently becoming fully vegan, both for ethical and environmental reasons (see below). When I last interviewed Megos in early 2021 (1), he was selling t-shirts with the “Carrots for Power” slogan and donating 100% of the proceeds to various charitable causes, including sustainable agriculture initiatives and charities promoting climbing for the underprivileged.
“The idea behind Carrots for Power developed years ago,” he told me. “I was looking for a vegetable I could take to the crag, one that wouldn’t get mushed in your backpack and that was healthy. Carrots seemed like the best choice because, for example, you can eat tomatoes raw, but you can’t bring them to the crag, or they’ll get smushed in your pack. Most other vegetables, besides carrots, are either not as common or aren’t very delicious raw. Carrots are the perfect vegetable to eat at the crag because you can eat them raw, bring them everywhere, and they last for a long time. So, I developed #CarrotsForPower, and it really took off.”
Notably, Megos recently hosted 15 Ukrainian refugees in his Erlangen home and has been vocal about his support for those affected by the war. In an interview with Olympics.com (2), he said he is committed to “making the world a better place” and believes in speaking out about any and all causes he is passionate about as someone with a platform. “People don’t realize that I’m not only an athlete,” he said. “I can do whatever I want with my platform, and if I want to raise my voice for those issues, then I have every right to do so.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Adam Ondra and Alex Megos are two of the strongest sport climbers in the world. While Ondra is more prolific, Megos is the only other climber to have made an FA of a verified 5.15c (9b+) with Perfecto Mundo. (Seb Bouin’s new route, DNA, while proposed at 5.15d (9c), has not yet been verified by a repeat.) Today Adam Ondra is likely the world’s strongest and most prolific sport climber, but Megos is widely considered among the few who can hold a candle to his efforts.
Alex Megos is known for his high consumption of vegetables (especially carrots!) and recently went fully vegan at the beginning of 2021. In an 8a.nu interview (3), he noted that he believes the most significant thing a single person can do to [positively] impact the climate is to adopt a plant-based diet. “It’s healthier and better for the planet,” he said.
Alex Megos is not Greek. He is German and was born in the city of Erlangen, Bavaria, in 1993.
Alex Megos is currently 29 years old. He was born on August 12, 1993.
Alexander Megos is 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm) tall. He weighs approximately 126 pounds (57 kg) and has an ape index of 0.
Alex Megos On His New ‘Carrots for Power’ T-Shirts (100% of Proceeds Going to Nonprofits)
Owen Clarke, Gym Climber/Rock & Ice, 2021
Climbing star Alex Megos: “I try to make the world a better place”
Lorena Encabo & Ash Tulloch, International Olympic Committee, 2022
Megos and the environmental “catastrophe”
Vertical-Life (8a.nu), 2021