Big-wall free solos and mountaineering first ascents don’t happen in a vacuum—they are part of (and are influenced by) the broader evolution of climbing performance. To provide context for the long climbs we have documented in this edition, we record here some of the most notable achievements in 2017 on the world’s shorter cliffs. –The Editors
Margo Hayes (USA), 19 at the time, redpointed La Rambla at Siurana, Spain, the first solid 9a+ (5.15a) free climbed by a female climber. She followed up this performance by making the first female ascent of Biographie (also 9a+) at Ceüse, France, in September.
Gordon McArthur, a 37-year-old Canadian, redpointed Storm Giant, a dry-tooling route that climbs out a gigantic cave near Fernie, British Columbia, and took two and a half years to complete. The 80-meter pitch has more than 50 bolts and some manufactured holds, and is the first dry-tooling route to be given the grade of D16.
Adam Ondra (Czech), 24, completed Silence, a 45-meter free climb in Norway for which he proposed the world’s first 9c (5.15d). The first half of the climb is 8b (5.13d), followed by three distinct boulder problems: 8C (V15), 8B, and 7C+. The route climbs the roof of a granite cave near Flatanger, Norway, where, in 2012, Ondra freed Change, the first 9b+ (5.15c) in the world.
Anak Verhoeven, 21, from Belgium became the first female climber to do the first ascent of a climb graded 9a+/5.15a (and the second woman ever to free a route of this difficulty): Sweet Neuf at Pierrot Beach in France. This new linkup extended Sang Neuf (9a/5.14d), a route that Verhoeven had climbed for its first free ascent one day earlier, with the 5.14 upper section of Home Sweet Home.
Angela Eiter, 31, from Austria, redpointed La Planta de Shiva (9b/5.15b) at Villanueva del Rosario, Spain, the first route of this grade free climbed by a woman. The route was first freed in 2011 by Adam Ondra and is believed to have been repeated only once before.