List of first ascents (sport climbing)

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In free climbing, a first ascent (FA), or first free ascent (FFA) is the first successful, documented climb of a route or boulder performed without using equipment such as anchors, quickdraws or ropes for aiding progression or resting. In this article, notable first free ascents of hard routes and boulders are listed, which are regarded worldwide as milestones in the history of free climbing.

Ratings on the hardest climbs tend to be speculative, until other climbers have had a chance to complete the routes and a consensus can be reached on the precise grade. This becomes increasingly difficult as the grade increases, because fewer climbers are capable of repeating the route and passing judgment on its grade.

Adam Ondra climbing Silence, 9c (5.15d), in 2017


As of November 2017:

Single-pitch routes[edit]

Redpointed by men[edit]

9c (5.15d) (unconfirmed):

  • Silence (formerly known as Project Hard)[7] - Flatanger (NOR) - September 3, 2017 - First ascent by Adam Ondra, who described it as "much harder than anything else" he had previously done, and cautiously suggested the 9c rating. The route is about 45 m long. The first 20 m are about 8b (5.13d), followed by three distinct boulder problems: an extremely hard 8C, a "burly 4-move" 8B and a 7C+ with slippery feet. The first of these was described by Ondra as the hardest 8C (V15) he ever climbed. It consists of 10 incredibly hard and unusual moves, including single-finger locks, climbing upside down and a variation of a figure four move.[1][8][9][10][11][12][13]

9b+ (5.15c):

9b (5.15b):

Chris Sharma climbing in Yangshuo (CHI)

9a+ (5.15a):

  • Open Air - Schleier Waterfall (AUT) - 1996 - First ascent by Alexander Huber, who initially proposed a 9a rating. Heralded as the world's hardest route upon completion, the route was first repeated twelve years later by Adam Ondra, who upgraded it to 9a+, trying to fit the grade to the "new school" rating conventions.[27] According to Alexander Huber,[28] the route is at least as difficult as La Rambla, first climbed by him in 1994. Those who doubt that the original version of La Rambla is 9a+ (including Huber), might consider Open Air to be the first 9a+ in history.
  • Biographie - Montagne de Céüse (FRA) - July 2001 - First ascent by Chris Sharma. Heralded as world's first 9a+ upon completion, because at that time Huber's Open Air was still considered to be a 9a route (see above).[29]
  • La Rambla Extension - Siurana (ESP) - 41 metres (135 ft) long extended version of Alexander Huber's route La Rambla, obtained by Dani Andrada by linking Huber's route to another route nearby, via a traverse - March 8, 2003 - First ascent by Ramón Julián Puigblanque, after more than forty failed attempts. Puigblanque proposed a 9a+ rating,[30] later confirmed by many other repeaters.

9a (5.14d):

  • Action Directe - Frankenjura (DEU) - 1991 - First 9a in history, by Wolfgang Gullich. Still described as one of the hardest routes worldwide. Originally graded 8c+, it is now widely considered to be a challenging 9a.[31]
  • La Rambla - Siurana (ESP) - 1994 - First ascent by Alexander Huber, who graded it 8c+ (5.14c). Based on its similarity with La Rambla Extension, a 6 metres (20 ft) longer version of the same route, La Rambla might be considered to be the world's first 9a+, but Huber would probably disagree. In his opinion, both routes are "not harder than" Wolfgang Gullich's Action Directe, the word's first 9a, which in 1994 was still rated 8c+.[28] In 2003, Ramón Julián Puigblanque climbed both routes and graded them 9a+. Since the additional 6 meters of La Rambla Extension were much easier than La Rambla's crux,[30] Puigblanque believed that they did not increase the difficulty of the ascent enough to justify an higher rating.
  • Bain de Sang Saint-Loup (Pompaples, SUI) - First ascent by Fred Nicole, 1993. Third 9a route in the world.

8c+ (5.14c):

  • Hubble - Raven Tor (GBR) - June 14, 1990 - First 8c+ in history, by Ben Moon.[32] Due to failed attempts from some of the world's best climbers, upgrading to 9a was suggested.[33] However, Alex Megos, after repeating it in 2016, stated that this was neither one of his hardest, nor one of his easiest 8c+ routes.[34]

8c (5.14b):

8b+ (5.14a):

8b (5.13d):

Redpointed by women[edit]

9b (5.15b):

9a+ (5.15a):

9a (5.14d):

  • Bain de Sang - Saint Loup (SUI) - October 29, 2002 - World's first female ascent of a 9a route, by Josune Bereziartu, after 15/20 trials. First ascent by Fred Nicole in 1993. Third 9a route in the world. The grade was confirmed by many repeaters.[40]


The east face of Monkey Face at Smith Rock, containing Just do it (8c+), onsighted by Ondra in 2018. When it was first ascended by Tribout, in 1992, Just do it was considered the hardest route in the USA.[41]

9a (5.14d):

8c+ (5.14c):

  • Bizi Euskaraz - Etxauri (ESP) - December 11, 2007 - First 8c+ onsight in history by Patxi Usobiaga. Project by Ekaitz Maiz.[42]
  • Kidetasunaren balio erantsia - Etxauri (ESP) - 6 March 2011 - Second 8c+ onsight in history, by Adam Ondra.[43][44]
  • Just Do It - Smith Rock (Oregon, USA) - November 12, 2018 - First ascended onsight by Adam Ondra. Bolted by Alan Watts in 1989 and first ascended in 1992 by Jean-Baptiste Tribout. Although this is the twentieth 8c+ route onsighted by Ondra,[45] it is mentioned herein because it is USA’s first 8c+.[41] Moreover, it is a particularly long slab (140 feet, 18 bolts) plenty of tricky moves, with small holds, hardly visible from the ground. This kind of classic routes is considered to be particularly difficult to onsight, by both Alan Watts and Adam Ondra.[46][47][48]

8c (5.14b):

  • White Zombi, Baltzola Cave (ESP) - October 6, 2004 - World's first 8c onsight, by Yuji Hirayama.[49]

Free-solo climbed[edit]

There are few climbers who have free-soloed in the 5.14 grade range. This list does not include "highball" boulder ascents because the climbers here did not use any padding or spotters. There is some debate on the blurred line between "highball" bouldering and short free solo climbs.[50]

8c (5.14b):

8b+ (5.14a):

Hardest projects[edit]

Chris Sharma is currently working on an extremely ambitious project that in his opinion may turn out to be harder than 9b+ (5.15c):

  • Le blond - Oliana (ESP) - Project by Chris Sharma, immediately to the right of La Dura Dura (world's first confirmed 9b+).[53][54] Named after Patrick Edlinger, who passed away while Sharma was bolting the route.
Es Pontàs, a natural arch in the coast of Mallorca

Deep-water solo routes[edit]

9b (5.15b) (unconfirmed):

  • Alasha - Mallorca (ESP) - September 12, 2016. First ascent by Chris Sharma, who estimated its grade based on the effort it took to climb it without rope: "If it had bolts on it, it probably wouldn’t be a 9b (5.15b). But when you’re 60 feet up with no bolts, it takes the same amount of effort.”[55] Sharma named the route after his daughter, Alana Sharma.

9a+ (5.15a):

  • Es Pontàs - Mallorca (ESP) - September 26, 2007. First ascent by Chris Sharma. Repeated by Jernej Kruder in November 2016. It features a 7 feet (2.1 m) dyno that took Sharma over 50 attempts to stick.[56][57]
Bryan Kennedy free soloing the Kennedy variant to the Organ Pipes, Mount Wellington (AUS), 1977

Multi-pitch routes[edit]


9a (5.14d):

  • The Dawn Wall - El Capitan (Yosemite, USA) - Height: 3,000 feet (915 meters) - 32 pitches, at least two of which graded 9a (5.14d). Described as the hardest big wall in the world.
January 14, 2015 - Redpointed by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson in 19 days, after 7 years of practicing.[58][59]
November 21, 2016 - Redpointed by Adam Ondra in only 8 days, after a few weeks of practicing.[60] Ondra was the first person to lead every pitch.[61]

8b (5.13d):

  • The Nose - El Capitan (Yosemite, USA) - Height: 3,000 feet (915 meters) - 31 pitches, one of which is graded at 5.14a/b. Described as one of the most important ascents in climbing history.[62][63] 1993 − First to free climb, Lynn Hill with partner Brooke Sandahl. Was not repeated for 10 years after their ascent.

Free-solo climbed[edit]

7c+ (5.13a):

Christian Core on Gioia (Varazze, ITA), first 8C+ (V16) boulder in history, 2008
Michael Rael Armas on Midnight Lightning, Camp 4 (Yosemite National Park, USA), one of the world's most famous bouldering problems

Boulder problems[edit]

9A (V17) (unconfirmed):

  • Burden of Dreams - Lappnor (FIN) - October 2016 - Grade proposed by Nalle Hukkataival after several years of trials. During these years, Hukkataival "very quickly" solved several 8C and 8C+ boulder problems throughout the world, including Gioia (see below). Compared to these other problems, Burden of Dreams felt "way way harder".[4][67]

8C+ (V16):

  • Gioia - Varezze (ITA) - 2008 - First ascent by Italian boulderer Christian Core, who first proposed 8C, "to play things safe". In 2011, Adam Ondra repeated the ascent and wholeheartedly proposed the 8C+ grade, describing the boulder as one of the hardest in the world, together with Terranova (see below).[68]
  • Terranova - Holstejn (Moravsky Kras, CZE) - 10 November 2011 - First ascent by Adam Ondra.[69][70]

8C (V15):

  • The story of two worlds - Cresciano (SUI) - January 2005 - First confirmed 8C in history, by Dave Graham.[71] Five years earlier, Fred Nicole had proposed 8C for Dreamtime, on the other side of the same boulder, but most repeaters downgraded it to 8b+ (see below).
  • The Game - Boulder, Colorado (USA) - 2010 - First ascent by Daniel Woods, who originally graded it 8C+ (V16).[72] Second ascent in 2013 by Carlo Traversi, who proposed 8C (V15).[73][74]
  • Lucid Dreaming - Bishop, California (USA) - 2010 - First ascent by Paul Robinson, who initially graded it 8C+ (V16),[75] and later downgraded it. In 2010, together with The game (see above), this was considered to be one of the world's most challenging boulders. Second ascent by Daniel Woods, who confirmed the 8C (V15) grade.[76]

8B+ (V14):

  • Dreamtime - Cresciano (SUI) - October 28, 2000 - First ascent by Fred Nicole, who proposed an 8C rating, making it the first unconfirmed 8C boulder in history. In 2002, Dave Graham repeated it by finding a different solution. He used a heel-hook to make the brutal start sequence easier, and downgraded the problem to easy 8b+. Most of the following repeaters, including Adam Ondra, Chris Sharma, and Daniel Woods adopted Graham's solution and agreed with him about the grade.[77][78] Notable exceptions are Jan Hojer and Christian Core, who confirmed the 8C rating.[79]

7B+ (V8):

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]