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

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 ascents of hard routes and boulders are listed, which are regarded worldwide as milestones in the history of sport 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.


Single-pitch routes

Redpointed by men

9c (5.15d) (Unconfirmed):

  • Silence (formerly known as Project Hard)[11] - 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 hard and unusual moves, including single-finger locks, climbing upside down and a variation of a figure four move.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

9b+ (5.15c):

9b (5.15b):

  • Akira - Vilhonneur cave (Périgord, FRA) - June 06, 1995 - First ascent by Fred Rouhling. He proposed a grade of 9b (5.15b).[32] The route was later repeated by Seb Bouin and Lucien Martinez, both of whom proposed a grade of 9a.[33]
  • Chilam Balam - Villanueva del Rosario (ESP) - July 4, 2003 - Unconfirmed[34] first ascent claimed by Bernabè Fernandez. He proposed a rating of 5.15c (9b+)[35] but the route was later repeated by Adam Ondra, who graded it as a "low end" 5.15b (9b).[36]
  • Jumbo Love - Clark Mountain (Mojave National Preserve, USA) - September 11, 2008 - First ascent by Chris Sharma. This route is 250 ft long (76 m). Sharma has called it his hardest ascent to date. In climbing it, he skipped up to three clips in a row due to the difficult sequences, which resulted in falls of 70 ft (21 m) or more.[37][38][39] Repeated by Ethan Pringle, May 2015[40][41] and Jonathan Siegrist in May 2018. [42]

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.[43] According to Alexander Huber,[44] 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).[45]
  • Flex Luthor - Fortress of Solitude, CO (USA) - Jan 2003 - First ascent by Tommy Caldwell, despite the fact that he lost his left index finger in 2001. It's considered one of the first 5.15 in the United States.[46] Route named as a play on Superman’s archenemy, following the naming logic of another close-by hard route called Kryptonite (5.14d), also established by Caldwell. It remains unrepeated, mainly because of the inconvenience of approaching and potentially harder difficulty.[47]
  • 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,[48] later confirmed by many other repeaters.

9a (5.14d):

  • Action Directe - Frankenjura (DEU) - 1991 - First 9a in history, by Wolfgang Güllich. Still described as one of the hardest routes worldwide. Originally graded 8c+, it is now widely considered to be a challenging 9a.[49]
  • 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 Güllich's Action Directe, the world's first 9a, which in 1994 was still rated 8c+.[44] 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,[48] Puigblanque believed that they did not increase the difficulty of the ascent enough to justify a higher rating.
  • Bain de Sang Saint-Loup (Pompaples, SUI) - First ascent by Fred Nicole, 1993. Third 9a route in the world.

8c+ (5.14c):

  • Liquid Ambar - Lower Pen Trwyn (Wales) - May 30th 1990 - First 8c+ in history,[50] by Jerry Moffatt. Originally graded at 8c, Liquid Ambar was later upgraded to 8c+ making it the first of this grade in the world. A year before, Jerry Moffatt made it to the last move before falling off, he then crashed his motorbike shortly after the attempt and was unable to complete this route in 1989.
Ben Moon completed Hubble at Raven Tor (8c+) 15 days later.

8c (5.14b):

8b+ (5.14a):

  • Ravage - Basel (SUI) - 1985 - First 8b+/c in history, bolted by Wenzel Vodicka but first ascended by Antoine Le Menestrel.[52]
  • Punks in the Gym - Mount Arapiles (AUS) - 1985 - First (or second after Terminator, see 8b (5.13d):) 8b+ in history :, by Wolfgang Güllich.

8b (5.13d):

  • Kanal im Rücken - Frankenjura (DEU) - 1984 - First 8b in history, by Wolfgang Güllich.
  • Terminator - Totoga (I) - 1984 - First 8b in history, by Manolo. According to Marco Zanone, who repeated the route in Spring 2021, could be also graded 8b+. Manolo gave it 8a+ at that time because "was harder than any other 8a I've climbed till that moment"

8a+ (5.13c)

8a (5.13b)

  • Grand Illusion (8a) - 1979 - Sugar Loaf, Lake Tahoe. First 8a in history, by Tony Yaniro
  • Oyster (8a)[54]  August 1983 Pen Trwyn Wales. First 8a in the UK by Jerry Moffatt.

7c+ (5.13a)

  • The Phoenix (7c+) - 1977 - Yosemite. Ray Jardine

7a (5.11d)

Alex Megos climbing Action Directe in Frankenjura (DEU), 2014

Redpointed by women


  • Erebor - completed by Laura Rogora. The first ever female ascent of a 9b/9b+, on October 2, 2021.[3]

9b (5.15b):

9a+ (5.15a):

9a/9a+ :

  • Bimbaluna - Saint Loup (SUI) - 1 May 2005 - World's first female ascent of a 9a/9a+ route, by Josune Bereziartu.[63]
  • Open your Mind direct - Santa Linya (ESP) March, 2015 - Second female ascent of a 9a/9a+ route, by Ashima Shiraishi.[64] The route has been repeated by several others, but they have not reached consensus about its grade[65][66][67]

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.[68]
  • PPP - Verdun (FRA) - August, 2011 - Second female ascent of a 9a route, by Charlotte Durif.[69]
  • Action Directe - Frankenjura - May 2020 - First female ascent by Mélissa Le Nevé.[70]

8c+ (5.14c):

Onsighted / Flashed

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 United States.[72]
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 United States.[72]

9a+ (5.15a):

  • Super crackinette - Saint Léger (FRA) - 10 February 2018 - First 9a+ flash in history by Adam Ondra.[9]

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.[76]
  • Kidetasunaren balio erantsia - Etxauri (ESP) - 6 March 2011 - Second 8c+ onsight in history, by Adam Ondra.[77][78]
  • 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,[79] it is mentioned herein because it is USA’s first 8c+.[72] 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 route is considered to be particularly difficult to onsight, by both Alan Watts and Adam Ondra.[80][81][82]

8c (5.14b):

8b+ (5.14a):

  • Massey Fergusson - Calanques (FRA) - 1995 - World's first 8b+ onsight, by Elie Chevieux.[85] In the same year, Chevieux onsighed a second 8b+ route (Maldita Maria, Cuenca, ESP).
  • Mortal Kombat - Castillon, (FRA) - November 25, 1999 - Onsighted by Yuji Hirayama. Initially announced as the world's first 8c onsight. A few days later, Hirayama himself downgraded the route to 8b+.[86] In the following years, the grade of the route settled at 8b.[83]

8b (5.13d):

  • Liaisons dangereuses - Les Calanques (Les Goudes), (FRA) - 1993 - Elie Chevieux

8a+ (5.13c):

  • Centre Court - Frankenjura, (GER) - 1989 - first 8a+ on-sight in history by Jerry Moffatt.

8a (5.13b):

7c+ (5.13a):

7c (5.12d):

Free-solo climbed

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.[90]

8c (5.14b):

  • Panem et circenses - Length: 15 metres (49 ft) - Arco (IT) - December 2019 by Alfredo Webber.[91]

8b+ (5.14a):

Hardest projects

Possibly 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+).[95][96] Named after Patrick Edlinger, who died while Sharma was bolting the route.
  • King line Arco (ITA) - Project by Stefano Ghisolfi and Adam Ondra, bolted by Mauro Mabboni on the Laghel crag, which was initially used only for dry tooling, as it was thought to be impossible to free climb. A variant of Queen Line, a 9b (5.15b) route first ascended by Ondra in 2017 and repeated by Ghisolfi in 2019.[97][98] The crux is in the final section, starting at the end of the hardest part of Queen Line.[99]
Es Pontàs, a natural arch in the coast of Mallorca
Es Pontàs, a natural arch in the coast of Mallorca

Deep-water solo routes

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.”[100] Sharma named the route after his daughter, Alana Sharma.

9a+ (5.15a):

Bryan Kennedy free soloing the Kennedy variant to the Organ Pipes, Mount Wellington (AUS), 1977
Bryan Kennedy free soloing the Kennedy variant to the Organ Pipes, Mount Wellington (AUS), 1977

Multi-pitch routes


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 searching for the line and practicing.[103][104]
November 21, 2016 - Redpointed by Adam Ondra in only 8 days, after a few weeks of practicing.[105] Ondra was the first person to lead every pitch.[106]

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 (8b+/8c). Described as one of the most important ascents in climbing history.[107][108] 1993 − First to free climb, Lynn Hill with partner Brooke Sandahl. Was not repeated for 10 years after their ascent.

Free-solo climbed

7c+ (5.13a):

7b+ (5.12c):

  • Weg durch den fish : Marmolada (Dolomites, It) - Height: 3,000 feet (1000 meters) - 2007 - First free solo ascent, world's hardest multi-pitch free solo by that time by Hansjorg Auer.


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

Boulder problems

Solved by men

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".[5][6]
  • Return of the Sleepwalker - Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada (USA) - March 30, 2021 - First ascent by Daniel Woods, who proposed the grade 9A (V17).[7][8] This problem adds a seven move 8B (V13) sit start into Jimmy Webb's Sleepwalker (V16/8C+).

8C+/9A :

  • Soudain seul (Big island assis) - Fontainebleau (FRA) - February 2021 - First ascent by Simon Lorenzi.[113] Though Lorenzi opted not to grade it, multiple attempts over several years by some of the world's strongest climbers have led many to believe that it may be 9A (V17).[114] The boulder has since been repeated by Nico Pelorson, who suggested the grade 8C+ (V16). [115]

8C+ (V16):

  • Hypnotized Minds - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (USA) - October 21, 2010 - First ascent by Daniel Woods. This is one of world's first V16/8C+s. It has been repeated by Rustam Gelmanov [116] in 2016 and Dave Graham in 2019. [117]
  • Terranova - Holstejn (Moravsky Kras, CZE) - 10 November 2011 - First ascent by Adam Ondra.[118][119]
  • The Process - Bishop, California (USA) - January 15, 2015 - First ascent by Daniel Woods. Note that the crux hold on the last move was broken off in February 2015, possibly making this climb harder. Located on the same boulder as the infamous Lucid Dreaming (V15/8C), this problem features a scary ~40ft highball top out. [120]
  • Creature From the Black Lagoon - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (USA) - September 28, 2016 - First confirmed 8C+ in history, first ascent by Daniel Woods. Subsequent repeaters have largely agreed with the proposed grade.[121]
  • La Révolutionnaire - Fontainebleau (FRA) - November 8, 2017 - First ascent by Charles Albert.[122] Repeated by Ryohei Kameyama in March 2019. [123]
  • Off the Wagon Sit - Bavona, Ticino (SUI) - 2018 - First ascended by Shawn Rabotou, this test piece adds a V11 (8A) starting sequence to Off the Wagon (8C/V15). Has since been repeated by Jimmy Webb and Daniel Woods. The problem's namesake is the wagon on which the climber starts the problem. [124]
  • Box Therapy - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (USA) - October 30, 2018 - First ascent by Daniel Woods.[125] This powerful, crispy problem is located near Box Lake in RMNP. It was repeated by Drew Ruana in July 2020.[126]
  • Sleepwalker - Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada (USA) - December 15, 2018 - First ascent by Jimmy Webb. Has since been repeated by Daniel Woods, Nalle Hukkataival, and Drew Ruana. [127]
  • Poison the Well - Bavona, Ticino (SUI) - February 2019 - First ascent by Giuliano Cameroni. It was repeated in February 2020 by Jimmy Webb, who projected the boulder initially with Cameroni. Jimmy said of the problem in 2019, "Dude that's so hard... I don't even feel it's possible."[128]
  • REM - Bavona, Ticino (SUI) - March 2019 - First ascent by Giuliano Cameroni. Cameroni sent this within a month of also FAing Poison the Well. [129]
  • Ephyra - Chironico,(SUI) - March 2019 - First ascent by Jimmy Webb. [130] Repeated by Niky Ceria in November 2020 who confirmed the grade. [131]
  • Brutal Rider - Sloup, (CZE) - May 2019 - First ascent by Adam Ondra. This is the hardest boulder problem in CZE, linking Brutus (V11/8A) into Ghost Rider (V15/8C). [132]
  • United - Mount Mizugaki, (JPN) - November, 2019 - First ascent by Ryuichi Murai. Considered to be the hardest problem in Japan, this problem is the sit start to Decided (V14/8B+), which was first ascended by Toru Nakajima. [133]
  • The Grand Illusion - Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah (USA) - Jun 17, 2020 - First ascent by Nathaniel Coleman. This problem, an extension of Euro Roof Low (8B/V13) put up by Chris Sharma, was projected by Coleman and Drew Ruana in 2020. This epic roof features a multitude of pinches that leads up to the start of Euro Roof Low. [134] It was repeated by Sean Bailey on the 2nd November 2020. Bailey proposed the sport grade of 9a+/9b due to the length of the boulder. [135] Daniel Woods claimed the third ascent in June 2021.
  • Big Z - South Lake Tahoe, California (USA) - December 29, 2020 - First ascent by Shawn Raboutou.[136][137] It's the first of this grade in Lake Tahoe area.
  • Insomniac - Mount Evans, Colorado (USA) - July 9, 2021 - First ascent by Drew Ruana.[138] It's described as linking a physical demanding V14 sequence and a power endurance V14 sequence ending with a hard lip and finish.[139]
  • Moonlight Sonata - Joe's Valley, Utah (USA) - October 3, 2021 - First ascent by Taylor McNeill, who has been projecting this boulder problem since March 2018. [140]

8C/8C+ :

  • Gioia - Varazze (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 above). However, Nalle Hukkataival downgraded the problem again to 8C, so the true grade of this problem is still disputed. [141]
  • The Finnish Line - Rocklands (South Africa) - June 27, 2017 - Named after the home country of Nalle Hukkataival, who put up the first ascent, this problem has seen multiple repeats by some of the world's best climbers. This famous problem features a highball arête, and it is a contender for the hardest problem in the Rocklands. [142]
  • No Kpote Only - Fontainebleau (FRA) - December 2018 - First ascent by Charles Albert, who proposed a 9A rating.[143] Repeated by Ryohei Kameyama, who needed only four sessions to send it and downgraded it to 8C+/9A.[144] Repeated by Nicolas Pelorson with a different beta using heel hooks, with climbing shoes.[145] He proposed hard V15/8C.

8C (V15):

  • Monkey Wedding - Rocklands (South Africa) - August 2002 - First 8C in history, by Fred Nicole.[146] The distinction from first confirmed 8C is made because Fred Nicole originally proposed a grade of 8b+, not 8c. Since then, Monkey Wedding has received a consensus 8C grade by almost all repeaters.
  • The story of two worlds - Cresciano (SUI) - January 2005 - First confirmed 8C in history, by Dave Graham.[147] 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).[148] Second ascent in 2013 by Carlo Traversi, who proposed 8C (V15).[149][150]
  • Lucid Dreaming - Bishop, California (USA) - 2010 - First ascent by Paul Robinson, who initially graded it 8C+ (V16),[151] 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.[152]

8B+ (V14):

7B+ (V8):

Solved by women

8C (V15):

  • Horizon - Mount Hiei (JPN) - March 22, 2016 - First female ascent by Ashima Shiraishi. World's first female 8C ascent. At the time, Ashima Shiraishi was the youngest person to send 8C. First ascent by Dai Koyamada, in 2015.[160]
  • Sleepy Rave - Hollow Mountain Cave, Grampians (AUS) - 2 August 2016 - First female ascent by Ashima Shiraishi. World's second female 8C ascent. First ascent by Dai Koyamada in 2004.[161] Some suggest this problem's rating is really V14.[162][163]
  • Kryptos - Morchelstock, Balsthal (SUI) - June, 2018 - First female ascent by Kaddi Lehmann. World's third female 8C ascent. First ascent by Franz Widmer in 2008.[164]
  • Byaku-Dou - Mount Horai (JPN) - May 3, 2019 - First female ascent by Mishka Ishi. Third female and youngest individual to achieve the grade at the age of 13. First ascent by Dai Koyamada in 2003[165]
  • Satan I Helvete low start - Fontainebleau (FRA) - May 27, 2020 - First ascent by Oriane Bertone. Grade is unconfirmed.[166]

8B+ (V14):

  • Catharsis - Shiobara (JPN) - October, 2012 - First female ascent by Tomoko Ogawa. World's first female 8B+ ascent. First ascent by Dai Koyamada.[167]

See also


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  3. ^ a b c "Rogora's Instagram post on repeating Erebor 9b/+". Cite error: The named reference ":0" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ Planet Mountain, ed. (26 July 2020). "Laura Rogora climbs 9b at Rodellar in Spain!". Retrieved 31 July 2020.
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  6. ^ a b "Interview: Nalle Hukkataival - Burden of Dreams (9A bloc)". Relais Vertical. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
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  8. ^ a b "The North Face Presents: "Return of the Sleepwalker" (9A/v17) (First Ascent)". mellow. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
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  10. ^ World's Hardest Flash - Adam Ondra Climbs 5.15 (9a+) First Try, retrieved 2021-07-19
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