"Having a simple style or whatever, everything gets too big."
The eight episodes feature climbers from all walks of life who are sent around the world to truly spectacular locations to endure a rigorous series of mental and physical challenges, including some of the most intimidating ascents.
A series of thrills, redemption and community, these climbers are put to the ultimate test to crown the world’s best amateur climber—and to win a sponsorship from activewear company prAna and a $100,000 cash prize.
In addition to being a blockbuster and superhero star, Momoa is an avid rock climber who created the show where the mainstream audience is given a front-row seat inside this unique life-altering endeavor.
The series also focuses on his lasting friendship with Sharma, as well as the lives of a diverse group of amateur climbers, who from watching the series, you are sure to root for and ultimately, fall in love with.
“This is my passion. This is what I’ve done since I was 14," Momoa exclusively tells Parade.com. "Nothing has ever been made like this series, I think our sport is so intricate and diverse, there are so many different styles to this community, and I can't wait to share it with the world.”
Read on for why Momoa and Sharma want to bring climbing into the mainstream and why they are so passionate about this competitive sport.
The Climb is a metaphor for overcoming our fears and pursuing our passions in life.
Jason Momoa: I totally agree,
Chris Sharma: That’s a great way to look at it.
What's the most exciting part of the show for you?
Jason Momoa: Well, I’m excited to show this to the world. I’ve never seen a competition for our sport like this. This is obviously Chris’ living and lifestyle. I think even if you’re good at bouldering, you’re not going to be good at free soloing, and if you’re good at deep-water soloing, you’re not going to be good at multi-pitch.
There is such a diverse aspect to this show—it’s very hard to make something like this, so I’m extremely proud of it. I’m also proud of our participants and the fact that you really get to see what our community is about. It’s unlike most competition-esque shows.
Chris Sharma: We’re experiencing this huge boom in climbing now. It’s in the Olympics. And doing a climbing competition on real rock is doing something that’s never been done before. Most competitions, or all competitions, are usually done on an artificial wall.
What we really wanted to do was showcase climbing and all of its splendor in these amazing locations. One of the other things that have never been done before is showcasing how men and women can climb at the same level, which when it comes to most competitions, especially in the Olympics, obviously they’re separated. In this competition, they’re together. I think it’s really special in that way.
Besides the climbing aspect of the show, it is also about overcoming fear and the climbers bonding with one another. Can you talk about how the series is about a lot more than just the climbing itself?
Jason Momoa: I think that’s what I was talking about when I mentioned our community. It’s hard to be competitive—when you’re inside on a fake, artificial wall because that's just about this one movement. But when you’re outside and you add in all the fear and all the things that you’re going through, and the anxiety of just stepping outside of your comfort zone, even if you’re a boulderer, to do multi-pitch and can be 300 feet off the deck and be in some wild place that you’ve never climbed before. It’s scary and you’re going through all of that. That’s why we love this sport, but still, it’s extremely challenging.
I think the support level that you see when our community comes together makes it less of a competition against each other and so you get to see these people really support what they’re doing, what they’re going through with their life, and what it brings up. That’s why we love climbing. The series also puts you outside into our beautiful world, experiencing, being out there, seeing how amazing this world is and being with mother nature. There are just a lot of things that you go through when you are climbing. So, it’s about way more than the actual act of climbing.
Chris Sharma: I agree. I think that our competitors have that opportunity to really experience what it’s like to dive headfirst into the world of climbing, but also share this world of ours with the rest of the world.
That is one of the things that makes climbing so rich and so incredible; it's much more than just getting to the top of the wall. It’s all of these different experiences. It’s traveling and experiencing foreign cultures, it’s about the relationships and the bonds you make with your partners. It really is this lifestyle. Both Jason and I have been climbing for some 30 years and it’s just incredible the places that it takes you both outside and inside.
Jason, how has climbing and the series changed you physically and emotionally?
Jason Momoa: I wouldn’t say the show changed me physically and emotionally. It’s achieving a goal that I wanted to do with my best friend. This is my passion; this is my art form. Storytelling is an art form, so you’re combining storytelling, which is what my specialty is, with my passion for climbing. It’s an accomplishment to be able to make this series that people are going to watch in a couple of days.
I love shining a light on it. Listen, I’m not going to be the greatest climber, because the greatest climber is my best friend. I’m showing all the different facets of our sport around the world I think is extremely important. It’s just wonderful that this dream that we came up with now is coming to fruition.
It is clear that climbing has made a major impact on you.
Jason Momoa: Since the beginning climbing has changed my life. It’s what I lean on for guidance, to be humbled. That’s my style of how I move with this world. It’s the favorite thing I love to teach. It’s probably the only thing I can teach. It gives me a great bond with my children and other communities. It’s just I love being outdoors and I love doing this movement, I love moving on a rock like this, it makes me feel beautiful.
Having a simple style or whatever, everything gets too big. Maybe in my industry, it’s just putting a backpack on, going out and being with the wilderness, going out in the forest and climbing on some boulders, and just simply moving and being in nature. It’s my meditation, it’s my love.
Climbing is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. Do you hope that people watching the series will be inspired to start? And what’s on your bucket lists?
Jason Momoa: I do think this is going to inspire people. It’s going to show that there are all different types of people and ages on our show. I feel like if you’re just doing indoor climbing, if it’s in a local community, maybe it’s going to get you outdoors more. Maybe you’re going to go to a place that you’ve never been to before. That’s what it’s about, traveling like Chris was talking about, traveling and seeing other cultures and getting out more. The biggest thing is going out to our beautiful world and that extraordinary playground and sharing that with other people.
As far as what’s on my bucket list, I’m living all of my dreams right now so I’d be greedy to ask for more.
And for you, Chris?
Chris Sharma: One of the things that many people don’t realize about climbing is that anybody can do it at their own level. The essence of climbing is trying something, pushing yourself to your limit, trying something that maybe you don’t know if you can do it or not. Then through that process, you discover that you’re capable of it.
That’s really a magical process of achieving your goals and conquering your fears. I think whatever body type, whatever age, whatever gender you can do it at your level. It’s something that’s available for anybody to try. So, I do hope that more people are inspired to try it after seeing this show.
I think one of the cool things to focus this show on was the amateur climbers. It wasn’t just about capturing the top climbers in the world, but it was showing the world that these are regular people, like all of you guys, and everyone is actually capable of doing this. I think people oftentimes think it’s out of their limits, but we are here to say that it’s not.
The Climb debuts on HBO Max on Thursday, Jan. 12 with episodes 1 through 3. Episodes 4 through 6 will be available on Jan. 19 and episodes 7 and 8 will be available on January 26.