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Three 5.14s in Eight Days at the Red River Gorge

Solveig Korherr has been on a tear this season climbing everything from 5.14a to 5.14d in Switzerland, Canada, and the U.S.

As the temperatures continue to decrease, greater numbers of difficult sport climbs fall to Autumn’s fresh conditions. Just this last October, Germany’s Solveig Korherr climbed Titan, a sustained 5.14 bolted in Lion’s Head, Ontario. After gaining her bearings on the slick style of Ontario rock climbing, she continued south.

In just this last week, Korherr managed to take down two incredible sandstone test-pieces in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. These last seven days brought about the end of a two-year-long project that will strike an inspiring chord among RRG regulars. Korherr’s project was Pure Imagination.

The 24 metre, 80-foot, sport climb moves across a series of progressively more challenging edges. As one of the most beautiful routes of the grade, Korherr was “obsessed.” She said that she had made progress in those years before, but found herself having “levelled up,” upon her return to the Red River Gorge.

In her recent Instagram post, Korherr mentioned her progression on the route.

This was the one that got away last time that I was in the Red. I have been obsessed with coming back to it for the last two years. It is a dream line of mine! The first time I went up it, I was mind-blown at how it would even be possible to hold on to these tiny little crimps on such a steep panel. I persevered a bit and made some very good progress back then but I just wasn’t quite fit enough to link all the sections.

 One week ago we finally made it back to the Red and I immediately hopped on Pure Imagination. My psych was flying high over the moon! I could definitely tell that I levelled up. I felt much stronger on the holds especially in the sustained upper part but I was still struggling a bit with the lower crux with the famous crimp that cuts your fingers and that is as thin as the sharp edge of a knife (pic 3&4)

On Sunday with some icy conditions and phenomenal vibes at the cliff, I was able to climb through the lower part and managed to clip the anchors!

After thanking her crew of supporters, Korherr moved onto to take down 50 Words for Pump, a 27-metre 5.14b that originally went up at 5.14c. It seems that Korherr has a proclivity for pumpy climbs with each of these three famous routes reaching 80 feet and beyond.

Although 50 Words for Pump is an endurance test-piece, its resistant style pushed Korherr through several boulder problems before they reached the final moves. Solveig said that she kept losing her body tension and ended up screaming her way through portions of the climb.

These screams would not have surprised many at the cliff as she ultimately sent on her fourth red-point try of the day. Korherr has a few more days left in the Red before she will head west for further climbing. This North American tour has not seen the last of Korherr and with her rapidly increasing list of ticked climbs, it appears ever more likely that she will ascend yet another route of high difficulty.

Korherr sent her first 9a, or 5.14d, just this August and appears to have not slowed down since that original challenging ascent.

Korherr wrapped up her trip south with an impressive ascent of The Zookeeper, a 5.14a that will conclude her time in Kentucky. With three 5.14 level climbs ticked, Korherr said that she will travel next to Utah.

Featured Image of Korherr on Pure Imagination. Photo by Jon Shen.