Beth Rodden established a single-pitch traditional route in late February that she named Meltdown (70'). The grade checks in at around 5.14, making it one of the most difficult climbs in Yosemite National Park. Rodden has not proposed a grade, but if it is 5.14c (8c+), which some have suggested, the ascent likely makes her the first woman to climb that difficulty on traditional gear.
The new route has been described as "improbable": it climbs an ultra-thin finger crack for about 45 feet on slightly overhanging, dark, north-facing granite, then transitions into "discontinuous seams to the top," Rodden said.
Ron Kauk stumbled upon the Meltdown line about a decade ago after he finished Magic Line (5.14b sport, 1997), but he never finished redpointing the short crack. Rodden redpointed the climb on all natural gear, placing all protection—eight pieces in total; TCUs, small offsets and one nut—on lead. Tenuous moves combined with "pretty serious fall potential" persuaded Rodden to develop a special gear system. Instead of clipping gear to her harness, she connected three vital cams with duct tape. This system allowed her to rip them off her harness easily, saving time and energy in the most desperate situations.
Beth is sponsored by Marmot, Sportiva, Petzl, Metolius & Bluewater
UPDATE: UKC Interview with Beth Here
Full Report by Erik Lambert (with larger photo) on the Alpinist Website.
STOP PRESS: See photos of Beth Rodden on Meltdown at bigupblog.com