Jacopo Larcher has made the first free ascent of Tribe, a difficult 25-metre-tall trad route in Cadarese, Italy, and it might be the hardest trad line ever climbed. Larcher isn’t grading it, but he began working on the project six years ago and it took over 50 attempts. Larcher has climbed bolted routes up to 5.15a, including La Rambla. There are only a handful of 5.14c trad routes, but there’s never been a 5.14d.
Top climber Stefano Ghisolfi said, “Jacopo Larcher just sent his trad project in Cadarese, he worked it for three years and finally sent it. He didn’t say anything about the grade, but I’m pretty sure this is the hardest trad route in the world, maybe the first trad 9th grade [5.14d]?”
Larcher talked to planetmountain.com after sending his project and said, “At first I didn’t understand anything, it just seemed impossible, then as time went by I managed to unravel the moves. Now I know them so well that I’m hard pressed to give the route a grade. The only thing I know is that it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever climbed. Both in sport climbing and in trad climbing. I’ve never tried anything as hard as this before.”
“Tribe” (E none) ~ I’m thinking since two days what I should write about this journey. After so much effort, I was sure to have too many words to describe it, but the reality is that I can’t find any. I’m simply happy, very happy. I'm thankful for what I’ve learned from it, for the the support of my friends, Babsi and the community… and yes, I’m thankful to myself, because I believed in this dream and I didn’t give up, even if it would have been easier. ~ I brushed this line 6 years ago, on my first trip to Cadarese, when I got into trad climbing. At the beginning it felt completely impossible, but I was obsessed by the beauty of the line and I kept on trying it hoping to find a solution to climb it. It had witnessed my evolution as a trad climber, as well as a lot of up and downs in my life. I kept on trying it, often alone, even if I’d never done the last two moves until a couple of weeks ago; I believed it was possible and at the end the perseverance paid off. It taught me that we always have to believe in our dreams, no matter what, even if someone tells you’re crazy and if it’s not always easy. ~ Now the big question is the grade. Everybody is asking me about it and it seems to be the most important thing about the climb, but for me it is not. I’ve never invested so much time in a route before and I believe it’s the hardest I’ve done so far, but I don’t want to reduce it to a number. It wouldn’t make any sense to me. It seems like nowadays grades are the most important things in climbing and everything else gets forgotten…but at the end of the day, what we will remember is the experience, not a number. ~ 🙏🏻 to my “Tribe” for sharing with me this process and to the climbing community for all the messages and support. It wouldn’t have been the same without you! ~ Peter, this one is for you 🙏🏻 ~ @thenorthface @lasportivagram @blackdiamond @frictionlabs @katadyn_group ~ 📸 @paolosartophoto
Planetmountain noted that Larcher “dedicates the climb to Peter Mair, a mountain guide from Sexten who perished in the mountains in 2016. ‘He means a lot to me, he taught me so much and played an important role in my growth, as a person and as a climber. A bit like this route really.'” Larcher was recently in Canada and made quick work of The Path 5.14R at Back of the Lake in Alberta.
These days, there seems to be new 5.15 sport routes climbed monthly, but hard trad climbs are few and far between. However, in the past few years, there’s been 50 sends of 5.14 trad routes. The Dawn Wall is the hardest multi-pitch trad route, but the crux 5.14+ pitches are bolted.
Below is a list of the hardest trad climbs recorded. Some of the routes are slightly contrived. Into the Sun is more/less a highball boulder with a few gear placements near the top and Pura Pura is a boulder start to the classic Greenspit 5.14a. Magic Line was first climbed by Ron Kauk with gear pre-placed at 5.14b, Lonnie Kauk climbed it while placing gear and called it 5.14c.
The 5.14+ Trad Routes
Tribe 5.14d? / Jacopo Larcher
Meltdown 5.14c in Yosemite / Beth Rodden, Carlo Traversi
Blackbeard’s Tears 5.14c in Redwood Coast / Ethan Pringle
Rhapsody 5.14cR in U.K. / Dave Macleod, Sonnie Trotter, Steve McClure, James Pearson, Jacopo Larcher
Into the Sun 5.14c in Switzerland / Bernd Zangerl
Pura Pura 5.14c in Italy / Tom Randall
Recovery Drink 5.14c in Norway / Nico Favresse, Daniel Jung
Magic Line 5.14c in Yosemite / Ron Kauk, Lonnie Kauk