A route's grade is provisional until enough climbers have repeated the route to have a "consensus". At the highest grades, this can take years as few climbers are capable of repeating these routes. For example, in 2001, Realization was considered the world's first 9a+ (5.15a), however, the first repeat of the 1996 route Open Air [de], which only happened in 2008, suggested that it was possibly the first 9a+ (5.15a). Open Air has had no further repeats, and has had holds broken since 1996, whereas Realization has had many ascents and is thus a "consensus" 9a+. Therefore, where known, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranked candidates are also chronicled.
Silence (also Project Hard) – 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 for the 45 m route. Remains unrepeated (June 2023).
DNA [de] – Verdon Gorge (FRA) – April 29, 2022 – First ascent by Sébastien Bouin who proposed the grade of 9c, saying "Comparing this route to Bibliographie, Move, Beyond [Integral], it seems a step ahead", and "To choose 9c is to take a risk". Remains unrepeated (June 2023).
Alphane – Chironico, (SUI) – April 6, 2022 – First ascent by Shawn Raboutou [de], and first repeat by Aidan Roberts (October 2022); Roberts was silent on the grade having never climbed at V17, and having previously failed on Burden of Dreams.William Bosi made a second repeat in November 2022 and felt is was easier than his first ascent of Honey Badger8C+ (V16).
Gioia [fr] – Varazze (ITA) – 2008 – Considered the first-ever 8C+ (V16), by Christian Core. First repeat in 2011 by Adam Ondra who proposed an 8C+ grade, describing the boulder as one of the hardest in the world, together with Terranova (see below). Third ascent by Nalle Hukkataival in 2014, and Niccolo Ceria in 2020, who were silent on grade. In 2015, it was discovered that new holds were chipped on the route, which Core tried to fix but not with complete success, leaving one new crimp that Core felt does lower the grade. In 2021, a fifth repeat by Elias Lagnemma suggested a slightly lower grade of 8C/+ (using a kneepad).
Hypnotized Minds – Rocky Mountain, (US) – October 2010 – Considered one of the first-ever consensus 8C+ (V16) boulders, by Daniel Woods who initially proposed V15; first repeat by Rustam Asatowitsch Gelmanow [de] (2016), and a second repeat by Dave Graham (2019), confirmed it as V16.
Given the smaller number of entries, the sections combine overall and female ascents. In some cases (e.g. the Salathé Wall and Dawn Wall), the first free ascent was by a climbing pair alternating leads, and in such instances, the first individual to free climb all the pitches is also recorded.
Bellavista [it] (500-metres, 10-pitches) – Cima Ovest, Dolomites (ITA)– 18 July 2001 – First-ever big wall redpoint at 8c (5.14b), by Alexander Huber; repeating the route in 2007 (to create Pan Aroma, also 8c), Huber found some key holds were "treated" from a 2005 attempt, and the crux was heavily lined with pegs, which had softened the grade to 8b/8b+.
Neverending Story (450-metres, 11-pitches) – 7th Kirlichspitze, Rätikon (SUI) – 1991 – First big wall free climb at 8b+ (5.14a), by Beat Kammerlander [de].
The Nose (870-metres, 31-pitches) – El Capitan, Yosemite (USA) – 1993 – Second big wall free climb at 5.14a (8b+), by Lynn Hill (partnered by Brooke Sandahl); considered as one of the most important ascents in rock climbing history, and a major milestone in female rock climbing; in 1994, Hill repeated it in under 24 hours; took over a decade for the first clean repeat.
The "Alpine Trilogy [it]" of 8b+ (5.14a) big wall routes, all freed in 1993–1994:
^Excluded from 9b+: Bernabè Fernandez [es]'s Chilam Balam [fr] (2003), was an unconfirmed and disputed first ascent that Fernandez proposed at 9b+ (5.15c) (the world's first-ever 9b+), which Adam Ondra regraded to a "low end" 5.15b (9b) in 2008, and which was further downgraded by later repeaters to a consensus of "hard 9a+ or 9a+/b".
^Excluded from 9b: Dani Andrada [fr]'s Ali Hulk Sit Start Extension (2007) is excluded post its 2021 downgrade to 9a+/b by Alex Garriga, and further downgraded to 9a by Dani Moreno in 2023.
^Excluded from 9b: Dani Andrada [fr]'s Delincuente Natural (2008) is excluded post its 2021 downgrade to 9a by Jonathan Flor, who made the first repeat.
^Not included in 9b: Tommy Caldwell's Flex Luthor (2003) is not included as Matty Hong's 2021 upgrade to 9b included the breaking of over a dozen handholds and twenty footholds, so much so that Hong could not opine on whether it was the same route Caldwell climbed, and Caldwell himself intervened to say that it was not as hard as Jumbo Love. In November 2022, Jonathan Siegrist made the fourth ascent and downgraded it to 9a+ (5.15a)
^Excluded from 9a+: Alexander Huber's Weiße Rose (1994) was graded 8c+ but Adam Ondra's 2008 repeat estimated it at 9a (and potentially 9a+, which would have made it the world first-ever 9a+), however, Jakob Schubert's 2020 repeat confirmed it 9a.
^Excluded from 9a+: Bernabè Fernandez [es]'s Orujo (1998), was an unconfirmed and disputed ascent that Fernandez proposed at 9a+ (5.15a) (the world's first-ever 9a+ at the time), which has not been repeated due to concerns over manufacturing of holds.
^Not included in 8c:Jerry Moffatt's Stone Love (1988), is listed in some climbing databases as the world's second-ever 8c, however, its consensus grade is considered at 8b+.
^Not included in 8b+: Wolfgang Güllich's Dead Line (1986) in listed in some climbing databases as the world's third-ever 8b+, however, its consensus grade is now closer to 8b.
^Not included in 8b: Martin Scheel [de]'s Vuelo a Ciegas Direct (trans: Blind Fight) which was Spain's first 8b and sometimes mistaken as being climbed in 1984, whereas Scheel did the first ascent in 1986.
^Not included in 8a+: Dave Cuthbertson's traditional climb Requiem (1983) is listed in some climbing databases as the world's second-ever 8b+, however, its consensus grade is now closer to 8a (or E8 6b in the English traditional grading system).
^Not included in 8a: Peter Cleveland's Phlogiston (1977) at Devil's Lake is sometimes proposed as a first 8a (5.13b), but it was clarified as a top rope.
^Excluded from 9b: Laura Rogora's 2020 ascent of Dani Andrada [fr]'s Ali Hulk Sit Start Extension (2007), is excluded post its 2021 downgrade from 9b to 9a+/b by Alex Garriga.
^Excluded from 9a: Sasha Digiulian's 2012 ascent of Era Vella, which was at the time considered the fourth-ever female ascent of a 9a.Era Vella has since been downgraded to 8c+/9a in the main climbing databases.
^Not included in 9a: Alizée Dufraisse's 2012 ascent of La Reina Mora, which is sometimes considered as being 9a (thus the fourth-ever female 9a), but the climbing databases regard La Reina Mora as 8c+/9a.
^Excluded from 8c:Kajsa Rosén [cs]'s onsight of T-1 Full Equip in March 2016 was considered a possible first female 8c onsght, but the consensus grade was settled at 8b+ in 2021.
^Not included in 8b+: Katie Brown's onsight of Omaha Beach in 1999 is sometimes mistakenly classed as an 8b+ onsight, however, several holds had broken from the sandstone route since Brown's onsight, and the original route was not considered an 8b+ (5.14a)-graded route.
^Not included in 8b+:Charlotte Durif [fr] lists a number of 8b+ onsights in her personal database: Spider cochon (2008), Ultime démence (2009), Basse température (2009) and Snails paradise (July 2010), that would rank as the earliest 8b+ female onsights, however, they have not been verified in climbing media (unlike Les Rois du Pétrole in 2010).
^Excluded from V17: Charles Albert's No Kpote Only (2019) was proposed at V17 but was downgraded by the first and second repeaters, Ryohei Kameyama (to V16 in 2020) and Nicolas Pelorson respectively (to V15 in 2020).
^Not included in V17: Simon Lorenzi [cs]'s Soudain Seul (2021), proposed at V17 but repeated by Nicolas Pelorson (2021) who felt it was V16 saying "V17 is impossible for Soudain Seul because you do a V12 before a V14/15"; a second repeat by Camille Coudert (2022) upheld the V17 grade, however, it remains listed as V16 or V16/V17 in the main climbing databases.
^Not included in V15: Markus Bock [de]'s Gossip (April 2002) was proposed by Bock at 8B+ (V14) but later revised upwards by Bock to 8C (V15), however, a first repeat by John Gaskins disputed the grade and felt it was closer to 8B+ (V14); led to a very acrimonious public
exchange with Bock.
^Not included in V15: Klem Loskot's Emotional Landscapes SS (November 2002), was originally proposed by Loskot at 8B+ (V14), and Martin Moser's 2004 repeat was silent on the grade (he used different beta), however, Nalle Hukkataival's second repeat in 2014 (who also used different beta) suggested a possible 8C (V15), one of the world's first; currently listed at 8B+/C (note the standing start is 8A+).
^Excluded from V14: Werner Thom's Zerberus (1997), was downgraded to V13 (8B) on its repeat by Thomas Lindinger in 2017.
^Excluded from V12: Jacky Godoffe [it]'s Partenaire Particulier (1987), which was considered at 8A+ (V12), but has since been regraded to 8A (V11) in the main climbing databases.
^Not included in V13: Therese Johansen's ascent of Bernd Zangerl [fr]'s Propaganda (May 2011) would have ranked as the third-ever female ascent of a V13 (8B), but she downgraded the boulder herself to hard V12 or maybe V13 after climbing it.
^Potter, Steven (18 October 2021). "Matty Hong Sends Tommy Caldwell's Flex Luthor—Upgrades to 5.15b". Climbing. Retrieved 26 January 2022. When I asked Hong what he thought about it, he said that after breaking roughly half a dozen handholds and 20 footholds off the route in his early attempts, he could say with confidence that the climb had changed, though he couldn't weigh in on how those changes had changed the grade, nor could he measure the impact of the climbers who'd attempted to the climb before him.
^Miller, Delaney (11 November 2021). "Carlo Traversi Makes Third Ascent of Flex Luthor, 5.15b". Climbing. Retrieved 23 June 2022. After breaking multiple holds on the route, Hong upgraded it to 15b, adding that it was unclear just how much the route has changed since it was originally established and how hard it was when Caldwell made the first ascent.
^Bisharat, Andrew (4 April 2016). "Setting and Revising the Record in Climbing". EveningSends. Retrieved 21 June 2022. The other interesting point about Open Air that's worth mentioning is that the route reportedly contains some rather flaky holds that have broken off over the years. So was the Open Air that Ondra climbed the exact same route that Alex Huber climbed? Maybe, but probably not.
^ abHobley, Nicholas (17 November 2012). "Adieu Patrick Edlinger". PlanetMountain. It was at the famous Luberon crag Buoux that Edlinger first began to leave his indelible mark, climbing numerous routes up to 7a solo (such as the exposed Pilier des Fourmis), succeeding 30 years ago in the world's first 7b on-sight (Captain crochet) and then, in that magic 1982 and still at Buoux, managing to on-sight the world's first 7c, La polka des ringards.
^"Being Bachar". Rock & Ice. March 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2023. [In 1982] 'I was so pissed off', says Bachar, 'That I went to Joshua Tree and soloed Baby Apes,' a 60-foot 5.12b/c he'd previously top roped but never led, thereby making the first "lead" of the now-classic line.
American online climbing website, Planet Mountain, on notable climbs, redpoints, onsight, free sole and male-female (1918–2012): Oviglia, Maurizio (23 December 2012). "The evolution of free climbing". PlanetMountain.com. Retrieved 4 January 2022.