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Who Is in the 5.15c Club? A Timeline of First Ascents and Repeats

Here's a breakdown of the world's hardest routes and the climbers who have climbed them

Photo by: Petr Chodura

This is a short story about the world’s 5.15c sport routes and the climbers who have climbed them. First, a few facts for some context. 5.15c, or 9b+, is currently the second hardest sport climbing grade. There are nine recognized 5.15c routes in the world. Four of these have been repeated and have had their grades confirmed (for the most part—more on this later). Five have yet to see a repeat.

Six routes around the world fall somewhere between 5.15b and 5.15c and are often referred to as 5.15b/c. They’ve been granted this slash grade directly from their first ascensionist or indirectly through grade debate from different ascensionists.

The world’s hardest sport grade is 5.15d (9c). There are only two 5.15d routes currently in existence—Adam Ondra’s Silence and Seb Bouin’s DNA—neither of which has seen a repeat.

Let’s run through the history of the 5.15c grade in sport climbing—the routes, the first ascensionists, the repeats— touching on important 5.15b/c and 5.15d routes along the way.

The Ondra Era (2012–2017)

The world’s first consensus 5.15c was Change, first sent by Adam Ondra in October 2012 in the famous Flatanger cave in Norway. A little over four months later, Ondra would go on to make the FA of the world’s second 5.15c, La Dura Dura in Oliana, Spain in February 2013. Chris Sharma repeated the route the following month.

Ondra made the FA of the world’s third 5.15c—Vasil Vasil in the Czech Republic—nearly a year later, in December 2013. The route has never been repeated. It’s important to note here that Ondra made the FA of Move in Flatanger, Norway a few months prior, grading the route 5.15b/c. Seb Bouin would go on to repeat the route in 2019 and suggest an upgrade to 5.15c.

After Ondra’s send of Vasil Vasil in December 2023, nearly four years elapsed before another route harder than 5.15b was sent—and again it was put up by Ondra. On September 3, 2017 he sent the world’s first 5.15d, Silence in Flatanger.

By early May 2018, the 5.15c club remained at a membership of two—Ondra and Sharma.

The Megos Years (2018–2020)

In early May 2018, German climber Alex Megos made the first ascent of Perfecto Mundo 5.15c in Margalef. He was the first climber not named Adam Ondra to make a 5.15c first ascent. Italian climber Stefano Ghisolfi repeated the line in December that year, and Austrian climber Jakob Schubert made the third ascent in 2019.

In Summer 2020, Megos made the first ascent of Bibliographie in Céüse, proposing a grade of 5.15d. The world now had two 5.15d’s: Ondra’s Silence and Megos’ Bibliographie.

A few other repeats and first ascents mark this era. In 2019, Bouin put up La Rage d’Adam and in 2020 he made the FA of Beyond Integral, grading both routes the slash grade of 5.15b/c. As mentioned above, in 2019 he also repeated Ondra’s Move, suggesting an upgrade to 5.15c. With this repeat of Move and FAs of La Rage d’Adam and Beyond Integral, Bouin had three 5.15b/c’s to his name, but no confirmed 5.15c.

Ghisolfi made big news in Fall 2020, repeating Ondra’s Change 5.15c and confirming the grade.

By the end of 2020, the 5.15c club included Ondra, Sharma, Megos, Ghisolfi, Schubert, and likely Bouin, depending on how the grades of Move, La Rage d’Adam, and Beyond Integral will settle over time.

The Year of the Downgrades (2021)

In August 2021, Ghisolfi made the second ascent of Megos’ Bibliographie 5.15d and suggested a downgrade to 5.15c—huge news in the climbing world. At the time (and still true today) Ghisolfi had repeated more 5.15c routes than any other climber—Perfecto Mundo, Change, and Bibliographie—and thus had a solid understanding of the grade. Megos agreed with the downgrade suggestion, cementing Bibliographie as 5.15c and leaving Silence as the world’s only 5.15d. American climber Sean Bailey would go on to make the third ascent of Bibliographie a month later.

In March 2021, British climber Will Bosi made the first ascent of King Capella in Siurana, proposing a grade of 5.15c. In Novemeber that year, Megos went on to repeat the route but did not comment on the grade, although he did say he found a different sequence. Schubert made the third ascent the following month an suggested a grade of 5.15b. In a single day he sent both King Capella and Ondra’s and La Capella, downgrading that route too—from 5.15b to 5.15a.

The Year of Bouin (2022)

In Spring 2022, Bouin made the first ascent of DNA in Verdon Gorge proposing a grade of 5.15d. With Bibliographie downgraded to 5.15c, DNA would join Silence as the only other 5.15d route in the world. The line has yet to see a repeat.

On a trip to Norway in Summer 2022, Bouin repeated the world’s original 5.15c, Change. He said the route was less difficult than Move and suggested a grade of 5.15b/c. Unlike Ondra during the FA, Bouin used kneepads for his repeat (as did Ghisolfi). As more sends rack up in the future, will ascensionists agree with Bouin? Will Change remain the world’s first 5.15c?

On the same trip, Bouin also made the first ascent of Nordic Marathon, a 130-metre mega line through the entire cave. A lover of slash grades, he again graded this route 5.15b/c. In Fall 2022, he went on to make FA of Suprême Jumbo Love in California, grading it 5.15c—the first of the grade in the Americas.

In March, Ondra made the FA of Wonderland in Arco, Italy, grading the route 5.15b/c. In November, he sent a 5.15c for the first time since late 2013. He made the first ascent of Zvěřinec in his home country, grading the line 5.15c and proving the Ondra era of sport climbing is not over.

By the end of 2022, the 5.15c club included seven climbers: Ondra, Sharma, Megos, Ghisolfi, Schubert, Bailey, and Bouin. Of these seven, only four had put up 5.15c or 5.15d first ascents: Ondra, Megos, and Bouin.

New 5.15c FAs (2023)

We’re only two months in to 2023, there have already been two new 5.15c routes. The first was Excalibur in Arco by Ghisolfi. Although he had several 5.15c repeats to his name this was his first 5.15c FA.

Earlier this month, Spanish climber Jorge Díaz-Rullo made the first ascent of his Margalef project, Mejorando la Samfaina, grading it 5.15c. Both Excalibur and Mejorando la Samfaina have yet to see a repeat.

To date, the 5.15c club includes eight climbers: Ondra, Sharma, Megos, Ghisolfi, Schubert, Bailey, Bouin, and Díaz-Rullo. Five of these climbers have put up 5.15c first ascents: Ondra, Megos, Bouin, Ghisolfi, and Díaz-Rullo.

Another 5.15c or harder may be coming soon in 2023. Ondra and Schubert, for example, have been working hard on “Project Big” in the Flatanger Cave. You can learn more about the route here.

To Summarize

Below is a list of routes graded 5.15b/c, 5.15c, and 5.15d. Ascensionists are mentioned with the year they sent the route, with first ascensionists being listed first.


  1. Move – Ondra (2013), Bouin (2019)
  2. La Rage d’Adam – Bouin (2019)
  3. Beyond Integral – Bouin (2020)
  4. King Capella – Bosi (2021), Megos (2021), Schubert (2021)
  5. Wonderland – Ondra (2022)
  6. Nordic Marathon – Bouin (2022)


  1. Change – Ondra (2012), Ghisolfi (2020), Bouin (2022)
  2. La Dura Dura – Ondra (2013), Sharma (2013)
  3. Vasil Vasil – Ondra (2013)
  4. Perfecto Mundo – Megos (2018), Ghisolfi (2018), Schubert (2019)
  5. Bibliographie – Megos (2020), Ghisolfi (2021), Bailey (2021)
  6. Suprême Jumbo Love – Bouin (2022)
  7. Zvěřinec – Ondra (2022)
  8. Excalibur – Ghisolfi (2023)
  9. Mejorando la Samfaina – Díaz-Rullo (2023)


  1. Silence – Ondra (2017)
  2. DNA – Bouin (2022)


5.15c Club Climber Stats

Ondra: 5.15d = 1 | 5.15c = 4 | 5.15b/c = 2

Bouin: 5.15d = 1 | 5.15c = 2 | 5.15b/c = 4

Ghisolfi: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 4 | 5.15b/c = 0

Megos: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 2 | 5.15b/c = 1

Sharma: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 1 | 5.15b/c = 1

Schubert: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 1 | 5.15b/c = 1

Bailey: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 1 | 5.15b/c = 0

Díaz-Rullo: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 1 | 5.15b/c = 0

Bosi: 5.15d = 0 | 5.15c = 0 | 5.15b/c = 1

Lead photo: Petr Chodura