“How is it that you can climb so well,” A Russian climber asked Brit Ian McNaught-Davis, who was smoking on the summit of Peak Communism, “When you are so decadent?” That was back in the 70s but Russian climbers still have a reputation for intensity that shows in all disciplines of climbing.

We haven’t been able to confirm whether the current top-ranked World Cup climber, Russian Dmitrii Sharafutdinov will compete in the Canadian World Cup on June 1 and 2, but last year’s World Cup winner, Russian climber Rustam Gelmanov is on the starters list.

Rustam Gelmanov of Moscow
Rustam Gelmanov of Moscow

 25-year-old Gelmanov was born in Kazakhstan where he took up hiking and eventually gravitated towards climbing. His outdoor sends include Action Directe, a 5.14d in Frankenjura that is so difficult that despite its iconic status it hasn’t been climbed once in the last 14 months. Taking advantage of Russia’s fifty-year-old comp climbing tradition, he was able to build a strong career culminating in his Overall Bouldering World Cup victory and 3rd in the bouldering event at the World Championship in 2012.

In this year’s World Cup Bouldering  events thus far, Gelmanov has collected fourth in Chongquing China in March and sixths in Millau France in April and Log Dragomar Slovenia in May, and eighth in Kitzbuhel Austria in May. This string of steady, consistent performance is good enough for Gelmanov to be currently ranked sixth overall, but with more than a dozen World Cups still to be held, he still has an opportunity to defend his 2012 title.