David Lama, a 25-year-old free-climbing prodigy from Austria, became the first person to climb Lebanon's Baatara Gorge, a spectacular waterfall with an 837-foot drop. "When I walked in for the very first time, I almost thought, 'This can't be real.' I was just really excited to come here and try to put up a new route," says Lama.
The terrain made it difficult to clip quickdraws on the roof of the sinkhole to run a lead rope along the route, called Avaatara. So Lama, or "Fuzzy," as his friends call him, skipped the process to conserve energy, making the 5.14d climb even harder. But this shouldn't be a surprise. His success in climbing started at a young age. In 2003, at age 12, he completed an 8b+ route, becoming the youngest climber to accomplish this in free climbing's history. At 15, Lama was a junior world champion and twice winner of the European Youth Cup. This led to even bigger achievements: Becoming the youngest competitor in a climbing World Cup event and the first, along with Peter Ortner, to free ascent Cerro Torre's Compressor Route.