This year has been one of the most memorable in the world of climbing for some time.
Climbers have been pushing every style of climbing and succeeding with breakthrough ascents. There’s countless highlights, but here’s five big climbs from the past year.
Margo Hayes Climbs La Rambla: In February of this year, Hayes became the first female to send an undisputed 5.15a with her climb of La Rambla in Spain.
She told Rock & Ice after her climb, “I have so much respect for the climbers who have had the vision and the commitment to equip climbs such as La Rambla and for the many climbers in the international community who challenge and enjoy themselves, no matter the grade!”
Later in the year, Hayes climbed her second 5.15a with a tick of Biographie/Realization. She said after: “I am grateful to Jean-Christophe Lafaille for envisioning this graceful line, Biographie, in 1989.
“In 1996, Arnaud Petit completed the pitch to the first anchor, and five years later, in 2001, Chris Sharma became the first person to complete the line to the highest anchor, simultaneously sending the first ever 5.15a. Thank you for giving Biographie/Realization to our community!”
Angy Eiter Climbs 5.15b: On Oct. 22, Austrian Angy Eiter sent La Planta de Shiva, the first 5.15b climbed by a woman. Eiter began working the 45-metre route in Villanueva del Rosario in southern Spain back in 2015. She climbed first 5.14b pitch that year.
In January 2016, Jakob Schubert amde the second ascent of the 2011 Adam Ondra climb. His send reignited Eiter’s desire to project it.
Over the past year, Eiter took seven trips to the crag. Back at home in Spain, she trained on a wall that replicated many moves of the steep climb.
La Planta de Shiva was bolted by Manolo Del Castillo up an overhanging line of gray and orange limestone with blocky edges and tufa pinches.
Alex Honnold Free-Solos El Cap: On June 3, Honnold became the first climber to free-solo El Cap. His chosen route was Freerider, a technical 5.13a with low-percentage and committing cruxes. It took three hours and 56 minutes.
He told National Geographic after, “Honestly, I think this is the most satisfied I’ve ever been. It was exactly what I hoped for. I felt so good. It went pretty much perfectly.”
Top climber Tommy Caldwell said after: “In terms of mental mastery, I am convinced that it is one of the pinnacle sporting moments of all time. I hope others are inspired by Alex’s dedication to excellence and ability live without fear, and less by his willingness to accept risk.
“We have lost far too many in our world already. In terms of talent, preparedness, and climbing composure, Alex is a true outlier. He brought an element of sanity to this climb that no one else could, or probably ever will again.”
Adam Ondra Sends First 5.15d: On Sept. 3, Adma Ondra climbed his Project Hard route at Flatanger, Norway and graded it 5.15d, the first of the grade.
He ended up naming the world’s hardest single-pitch route Silence. Ondra noted after, “At the end of the route when I knew I did it, I had one of the strangest emotions ever. I clipped the anchor and I could not even scream.”
After his climb, he jumped into the sea and then tried to buy a beer to celebrate. But it’s illegal to sell alcohol on a Sunday in the country, so he danced instead.
He told Rock and Ice: “Finally, the radical breakthrough on the project came somehow naturally and surprisingly, in the end of second-to-last trip at the beginning of August. That made me overly psyched and confident. Then it was pretty easy to go back home, train and come back and finish it off.”
Magic Mushroom Repeated: Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl made a rare free ascent of the 30-pitch Magic Mushroom 5.14 on El Capitan. They topped out on December 10 after an 11-day push.
There are nine pitches of 5.12, nine pitches of 5.13 and two pitches of 5.14a, which qualifies it as one of the hardest free climbs up El Cap.
Tommy Caldwell and Justin Sjong freed it May 2008, and a month later, on his second attempt, Caldwell freed the entire route in less than 24 hours.
The first ascent was by Canadians Hugh Burton and Steve Sutton in 1972 at 5.10 A4. The free variation climbs variations into Jolly Roger.
Larcher told Alpinist: “Magic Mushroom felt way harder than the other routes we’d climbed on El Cap. It has a lot of hard pitches, most of which are beautiful (but weird) corners: it offers a very specific and unique type of climbing. At the beginning we looked at all those corners and had no idea how to climb them; we spent a lot of time figuring out beta.
“You have to be very creative with your body to climb some pitches. For me the hardest pitch was the 18th: a very weird 5.13c flared corner—I had a very hard time with that one. The scariest was probably a short 13c protected just with bad copperheads; I was surprised that they held a fall when I broke off a hold.
“The hardest pitch for Babsi was the last 5.14a (Pitch 26); she struggled on the last moves before the anchor. For her the scariest pitch was the second last; it’s a sandbagged 5.11b with long runouts. She was tired and it’s hard to find the holds.”
Free Magic mushroom what a blast!!! I never thought that I can climb all those crazy pitches. Especially the last hard one (just before the top) took everything I had…physically and emotionally. Falling on the last long move right before the chains made it to my biggest mental challenge. Thanks to ❤️ Jacopini for all those unforgettable days on the wall. It was a quite long journey—cleaning pitches; climbing ground up to the top first; hauling all that stuff up; stashing food and water for the final push; getting sick on the wall for a few days; almost had to bail, surprising ourselves, reaching the top full of happiness; and last but not least carrying down monster haulbags-back to where it started…. …..thanks to @tommycaldwell for the inspiration, you are our hero!!! @blackdiamond #lasportiva #skwama @sterlingrope ? @jonglassberg