In 2003, Tommy Caldwell redpointed his longtime project at the Fortress of Solitude near Rifle, Colorado. He called the 40-metre overhanging limestone line Flex Luthor.
Caldwell said it was the hardest thing he’d ever climbed. It’s found 30 metres right of Caldwell’s other powerful climb at the crag called Kryptonite 5.14d, which was the first of the grade in the country.
American crusher Matty Hong has now made the second ascent of Flex Luthor, nearly two decades after the first, and gave it a personal grade of 5.15b. Hong said on Instagram, “Tommy’s ascent, nearly 20 years ago is truly amazing and proves how far ahead he was as a climber and visionary. It’s undeniable some aspects of the route have changed over the years, however I believe the majority of the climb has stayed intact. With my best judgment, I’m proposing 5.15b.”
Hong became the fourth American to climb 5.15b with Fight or Flight, but it seems that Caldwell might have been the first American before Chris Sharma climbed Jumbo Love 5.15b on Clark Mountain, making Hong the fifth to tick the grade.
The first route ever graded 5.15b was Akira by Fred Rouhling, but a recent second ascent dropped the grade to 5.14d. Caldwell sent Flex Luthor in January 2003, a few months before Bernabè Fernandez made the FA of Chilam Balam at 5.15c, which Adam Ondra downgraded to 5.15b.
We’ve reached out Hong to hear more about the route and his send.