Yuji Hirayama, one of the world’s greatest all-time climbers, has made the first ascent of Hanabi 5.14c at Futagoyama on Mount Futago in Japan. At 52 years old, he’s been pushing the sport of climbing for over 30 years.
Futagoyama is three hours outside of Tokyo, near where Hirayama is based. He bolted Hanabi, Japanaese for fireworks, last fall, the route follows 20 metres of hard climbing to a good rest to a few metres of cruxy climbing at around V9 before the top.
In the late 1980s, he climbed what was then considered the hardest sport climb anywhere with Les Specialistes 5.14a.
He rose to the top of the climbing world in the 1990s with the first onsight of Sphinx Crack 5.13b/c trad in Colorado in 1995, onsighting Mortal Kombat 5.14a in Castillon in 1995, and winning a lead world cup in 1998. In 1997, he nearly onsighted Salathe Wall on El Cap.
In 2003, he made the first ascent of Flat Mountain 5.15a, still considered one of the hardest in Japan. The following year, he made the first-ever onsight of a 5.14b with White Zombie at Baltzola Cave in Spain. In 2002 and 2008, he and Hans Florine climbed their way into Yosemite history books by getting speed records on The Nose.
In 2009, he made a quick repeat of Cobra Crack 5.14 trad in Squamish. He talked to Planet Mountain after his send, and said, “Canada is great! This was my first visit here, the landscape is beautiful and I met lot’s of really nice people. Squamish is interesting because there are so many different types of climbing: trad, bouldering, sport and multi-pitches. The rock is solid granite and it felt so fresh to be in the wild forest. Apart from the Cobra, during my stay I also carried out the first on-sight ascents of the trad routes Zombie roof 5.13a and Flight of challenger 5.12c. When the weather was bad we travelled to Vancouver Island, where I did some first on-sights of hard sport routes such as Dinosaur Highway 5.14a, Globe trotters 5.13c and Moment of silence 5.13c.”