Community Team Petzl Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll

Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll

"I started climbing when I was 13 years old, in a climbing gym in Belgium. I then started sport climbing. In the beginning, camping and hitchhiking were enough to satisfy my need for adventure. Then I discovered what has now become my specialty, big wall free climbing, wet mossy off-widths, runout slabs..."

Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll

Profile of Sean

  • Date of birth : February 7 1981
  • Current status : Professional climber
  • Hometown : Brussels (Belgium)
  • Activities : Rock climbing, Multi-pitch climbing
  • Training :
  • Joined the Petzl Team : January 1 2011


First free ascents with my tin whistle

"I love climbing. It’s the challenge. Moving over rock, giving it everything, exploring. I like all styles of climbing. Good quality, bulletproof rock with perfect holds is amazing to climb, and so is wet, mossy, chossy off-widths. It adds to the adventure, and makes it… interesting. Climbing is my way to live life. I can travel, meet amazing people, share experiences and live incredible adventures. Big wall free climbing teaches you everything about life. It makes you live the moment. You can really feel things, you can really taste food, and you can really feel the rock shredding your fingers as the blood oozes out. There is nothing I don’t like about big wall free climbing. Any activity I do is related to climbing really. I like to slackline. It teaches me to be in an optimal state of mind in which thought, emotion and experience become one. It brings me to a state where the notion of time does not exist, everything happens in the here and now, where everything is connected. The same state of mind as when the climbing flows. My tin whistle is an essential part of my climbing equipment. When I’m dangling high up a vertical cliff, stuck in a storm in a small portaledge for days in a row, my tin whistle is there to make sure that I’m not waiting. I’m being. I play music."


Playlist video featuring Sean Villanueva

My favorite place is planet Earth

"I like wild and remote places and preferably with big rock walls. Places I have visited include Yosemite, Patagonia, Pakistan, Baffin Island and Greenland. There are many other places on the planet that I would like to visit."

My goal in life: to meet, to share, to inspire

"I like to share my experiences and adventures and I do so through writing articles, making films and giving slide shows. It is very important. It’s great to be able to inspire people to live their dreams. I also think it is meaningful to share with people the importance of respecting the rock, the mountains and nature and to have good vibes. I would like to continue doing what I do, and go and explore big walls in remote and wild places."

Sean’s anecdote

"One of my most difficult moments on a Big Wall, was on the Central Tower of Torres Del Paine in Chilean Patagonia. On day five of an eleven day ascent, while going to the bathroom in a storm, hanging 150 m off the ground, my last piece of toilet paper flew away! Forcing me to continue the rest of the ascent with rocks, ice and whatever I could find really!"

Other informations


  • "Pakistan Project" First ascents in Characusa Valley, Karakorum (Pakistan) production, out of stock.
  • "Asgard Jamming" An award-winning film about an expedition to Mount Asgard, Baffin Island (Canada), production, 2010.
  •  Vertical Sailing Groënland " production, 2011.

Major ascents

  • West Coast of Greenland "exploring the fjords in search of virgin big walls", 2010.
    During this sailing-climbing expedition, we lived together on a small 10 m sailboat for three months and climbed nine first ascents. Our team: Nicolas Favresse, Olivier Favresse, Ben Ditto, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll, and Bob Shepton, skipper and priest.
  • Fitz Roy (Patagonia, Argentina) "first free ascent on the East face of Fitz Roy, a variation of the aid route El Corazon" (1200 meter big wall) 2011.Together with Nicolas Favresse, we each climbed every pitch free and onsight, climbing through the night with almost 30 hours of non-stop climbing

Included in this article

Florence Pinet Pushing the limits "I am a climber who loves more than anything to have a good time climbing with a great group of friends. I love to push my limits and climb fantastic routes in order to experience the beautiful movements and figure out the sequences. I love all kinds of climbing: sport climbing, boulders, big routes and especially onsight climbing. As long as it’s climbing, it’s great!" Nina Caprez Searching for happiness in the present moment. "I have great confidence in myself. I am someone who is sure of herself. In our sport, this is fundamental to being able to complete difficult multi-pitch routes. Being outside, living life to the fullest, meeting people on the same wavelength, climbing together... That is happiness for me. My first big competition was the youth championships in Beijing... It was the first big memory for "Little Nina". I love this feeling of succeeding in competitions. Competing with yourself doesn't really do it for me. I am always looking to improve in sport climbing and to complete the great routes that I hold really close to my heart." Kilian Jornet Burgada "During my childhood we lived in the Cap del Rec hut at the Lles de Cerdanya cross-country ski area in the Spanish Pyrenees: I learned to ski there with my sister. Before even learning to walk, we already had tens of kilometers under our belts. In the mountains, the only way to have fun was through sport. During the summer, after school got out, we would run on the trails or through the woods around the hut, and during the winter we’d do the same thing on skis. At five years old, we had already scaled multiple 3,000 meter peaks, including Pico Aneto and Pico Posets. When I was ten years old, we traversed the entire Pyrenees range. This is how we were raised, with the mountains as our playground and playing sports for fun." Stéphanie Bodet Life on the wall is a great source of personal enrichment and self-knowledge.