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World Champion Rock Climber

Yuji Hirayama | TEDxTokyo 2009

Yuji Hirayama is a bona fide rock star—the kind with grit on his hands, open air all around, and no net below. A competition climber who’s scaled peaks in China, Italy, Kuala Lumpur, Switzerland and elsewhere, Yuji was World Cup champion in 2000. He’s now revered as a granite crack climber and boulderer, able to analyze and exploit the tiniest seams. Because just climbing isn’t adrenaline-charged enough, Yuji is also a speed climber. In 2008, he and ascent partner Hans Florine set a new record for ascending the Nose of El Capitan, blazing up the 1000-meter wall in 2:37:05, beating the previous record by two minutes and bettering their 2002 mark by a staggering five minutes.