After 20 years of silence, the remote Flex Luthor at Colorado’s aptly named Fortress of Solitude has become the centre of many climbers’ attention with a flurry of attempts and sends. The most recent ascent was by Jonathan Siegrist in some high-mountain autumn conditions.
The first ascent of Flex Luthor was by Tommy Caldwell in 2003, and it went unrepeated until last year with Matty Hong and Carlo Traversi sent. Hong said he believes it’s 5.15b after 20 years of the route sitting with no grade, all anyone knew was that Caldwell said it was his hardest climb to date. It’s found 30 metres right of Caldwell’s other powerful climb at the crag called Kryptonite 5.14d, which was the first of the grade in the country.
We spoke to Hong after his repeat, and he told us, “The process felt almost like trying a first ascent. I didn’t have any beta for the route, so I spent a lot of time just working out sequences and trying individual moves. It took a long time. It took multiple trips to the cliff before I figured out a sequence that worked. Usually after someone’s climbed a route you have so much more information than you do if you’re the first person to climb something. A route like Flex Luthor, it doesn’t make sense right away. You have to put your body in different positions and really figure it out move by move.”
This year, Siegrist and Matt Segal teamed up to try Flex Luthor. Siegrist, who’s arguably America’s strongest sport climber with several 5.15s to his name, made quick work of it. Siegrist has not given Flex Luthor a personal grade. After his send, Siegrist said, “This past Monday I climbed Caldwell’s Flex Luthor. A mysterious and mostly forgotten route up until Hong did the much anticipated second ascent last year. It was awesome to return to this intense crag after a dozen years away. This route has some of the most unique movement and holds of all time.”