When a nineteen-year-old Cal student wearing Solutions and a Berkeley Ironworks “Belay Staff” hoodie bagged the third ascent of Too Big To Flail (V10x/5.14a)—a 50-foot boulder problem/free solo in the Buttermilks—we all asked the same question: who is this guy?

Steven Roth is an unsponsored and mostly unknown twenty-year-old mechanical engineering major. On the weekends, he just so happens to send 5.14—sometimes without a rope. In addition to Too Big, Steven has quietly sent many other boulder problems in Bishop that blur the lines between bouldering and soloing, including Ambrosia (V11), Rise (V9), and a first ascent of the still unrepeated The Air Up There (V7/8).

Steven Roth Bishop climber

Steven on one of Bishop’s more moderate highballs, Larger Than Life (V3). Photo: Ethan Pringle

When asked how being a full-time student has affected his climbing, Steven told Moja Gear that school is actually something that fuels his sends:

School has kept me motivated to climb. I think I’d lose that burning desire to climb if I could do it all of the time.

Steven has also contributed to the progression of our sport in disciplines other than highball bouldering, making the first ascent of The Emperor’s New Clothes (5.14a) at Mickey’s Beach, CA, the first all-gear ascent of Cookie Cutter (5.13b) in Yosemite, and the first free ascent of Taipan Rising (5.13b) at Shuteye Ridge, CA.


Related: Climbing Destination Guides: Bishop, California & Yosemite Valley, California

Steven Roth

Steven after a free ascent of the West Face of the Leaning Tower (5.13b) in Yosemite.

With all of his hard sends and first ascents, it seems obvious that Steven would be a professional, sponsored rock climber. But he has made the decision to forego sponsorship opportunities, saying,

I love climbing the most when there aren’t any outside pressures or expectations to do it. That being said, I don’t think I could ever be a professional climber. When I competed, I buckled under pressure and didn’t really have fun. Now that I climb outside for myself, I am learning how to climb and really enjoy the time I can spend outdoors.

Steven Roth

Working a shift of Kids Camp at Berkeley Ironworks.

While school is his main focus at the moment, Steven has many climbing-related goals in 2015, including projects at Mickey’s Beach, Tuolumne, Lost World, and of course, more Bishop highballs. Steven hopes to tackle the daunting task of being a strong climber as well as a good student, and it seems that he is succeeding in doing that very well. Best of luck in 2015 Steven, we can’t wait to see what you do next!

To read more about Steven Roth, check out this interview with Dead Point Magazine.