The latter half of the 2010s brought 9c, 9A and new horizons in women's climbing. In January 2015, online engagement with climbing-related searches had grown by 69% from January 2014 thanks to Dawn Wall mania, while searches related to climbing walls rose by over 200%. This was a turning point for the growth of indoor climbing and the sport's profile, which only continued to increase following the announcement of Sport Climbing's Olympic inclusion in 2016.
Despite the dark cloud of Brexit tainting the UK's political and cultural image from 2016 onwards, many of our climbers managed to uphold the UK's reputation somewhat - at least among the national and international climbing scene - with notable achievements at home and abroad in a variety of disciplines.
2017 was a particularly outstanding year for record-breaking feats, with Alex Honnold's free solo of El Capitan and two women pushing the women's redpoint bar higher by two grades: Margo Hayes with her multiple 9a+ ticks, and Angy Eiter breaking 9b. By the turn of the decade, a climbing film had won an Oscar, the first Olympians had been selected and climbing clothing and gear had street cred and fashion appeal.
By 2030, Sport Climbing will - all being well - have been presented at three Olympic Games in various formats. As for ascents on rock and ice, who knows where the limits will lie in ten years' time, or what state the mountains will be in.
Here are some global news highlights (and some lows) from 2015-2019.
The Dawn Wall Project: History in the Making
This was the first headline to grab our attention on 14th January. Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made history by free-climbing the Dawn Wall Project, after spending 20 days on the face in full view of the international mainstream media, "using only their hands and feet." Have a look at this fascinating piece which showed that online engagement with climbing-related searches grew by 378 percent from January 2014 to January 2015: The Dawn Wall by Numbers.
Marc-André Leclerc solos the Corkscrew
On his second trip to Patagonia, Canadian Marc-André Leclerc soloed the Corkscrew on Cerro Torre in snowy conditions with verglas present on the route. The Corkscrew is by far the hardest route soloed in the Cerro Torre. He climbed the route in a day - only belaying by back-looping - and descended via the southeast ridge.
Banana Wall XII/12 by Greg Boswell
Greg Boswell climbed a new route in Cairn Gorm - Cairn Lochan named Banana Wall. Graded at XII/12, the route is only the second ever to be given a XII rating in Scotland and follows a steep, curving wall between Fallout Corner and Bavarinthia. Greg's had a successful winter season in 2015, ticking a trio of hard new routes climbed onsight: Messiah, Range War and The Greatest Show On Earth.
El Bon Combat, 9b/+, first ascent by Sharma
Chris Sharma made the first ascent of El Bon Combat, 9b/+, at Cova de Ocell near Barcelona in March.
So far it remains unrepeated and is believed to be among the five most difficult routes in the world.
Tom Ballard solos the Six North faces of the Alps
British alpinist Tom Ballard, son of the late Alison Hargreaves, completed his mission to solo all of the 6 classic north faces of the alps in one winter season. The faces and routes, in the order that Tom climbed them, were: Cima Grande (Comici), Piz Badile (Cassin), Matterhorn (Schmidt), Grandes Jorasses (Colton-MacIntyre), Petit Dru (Allain), Eiger (1938 Route).
Ciudad de Dios, 9a/+, by Ashima Shiraishi
Ashima Shiraishi had an incredible year in 2015. Proving her ascent of Open your Mind Direct 9a wasn't just blind luck, Ashima went on to complete Ciudad de Dios, 9a/+ just a few days later - aged only 13!
The In Pinn Loses its Top Block - And Munro Status
Memorable for the wrong reasons, perhaps. Did our April Fool fool you? It's all Danny MacAskill's fault...our most-viewed news item of the year.
Dean Potter killed in Wingsuit Accident
Legendary climber, BASE jumper and highliner Dean Potter died at the age of 43 after a wingsuit jump from Taft Point (7,500ft) in Yosemite Valley went wrong, killing both Dean and his BASE partner Graham Hunt, 29. Dean set multiple speed records for climbing The Nose on El Capitan and made the first "freeBASE" (soloing with a parachute) ascent of Deep Blue Sea 7b+ on the Eiger.
Ben Moon climbs Rainshadow 9a
Perhaps one of the most inspirational UK ascents of 2015. Ben Moon climbing his long-term project Rainshadow 9a at Malham Cove just days before his 49th birthday and 25 years after climbing Hubble 9a.
West Summit of Link Sar by Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman
British alpinists Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman made the first ascent of the West summit of Link Sar, 6,938m in Pakistan, climbing the Northwest Face via a route they named 'Fever Pitch'. In May 2015, Jon also made the first ascent of a new route in Alaska alongside Will Sim on the North West Face of Mount Deborah, Bad to the Bone (2000m).
Ueli Steck Completes 82 Summits Challenge...and Reclaims Eiger Speed Record
Two headlines in one for Mr Steck this year. His 82 Summits Challenge made us feel knackered just reading about it - Ueli climbed all 82 peaks over 4,000m in Western Europe in just 62 days, using only muscle power to travel between mountains. Not satisfied with this achievement, he only went and reclaimed the Eiger speed record, beating Dani Arnold's 2011 time of 2 hours 28 and reclaiming the fastest time in an astonishing 2 hours 22 minutes and 50 seconds.
Malham Waterfall - It's Raining Bats and Dogs...
Astonishing images were released in early December of water cascading down Malham Cove for the first time in living memory. The most important question remained: "Is Raindogs in?"
Boswell and Bullock Survive Grizzly Bear Attack
Certainly one of the least expected and most shocking headlines came in December as Greg Boswell and Nick Bullock survived a grizzly bear attack in the Canadian Rockies. The bear pounced on Greg and attacked his thigh, leaving him with 5 open wounds which required hospital treatment. The story made national and international press headlines, rounding off a year in which climbing news leaked into the mainstream more than ever before.
First Solo Ascent of Torre Egger by Colin Haley
American alpinist Colin Haley made the first solo ascent of Torre Egger in Southern Patagonia, Argentina - also managing tick off the first solo ascent of Punta Herron along the way. Torre Egger is widely regarded as the hardest of the Torre Group and is the spire which sees the fewest ascents, first climbed in 1976 by Americans John Bragg, Jim Donini, and Jay Wilson.
First Winter Ascent of Nanga Parbat
Simone Moro (Italy), Alex Txikon (Spain) and Ali Sadpara (Pakistan) made the long-awaited first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat 8,126m in Pakistan. 13 of the 14 8,000-metre peaks have now seen winter ascents. Only K2 remains to be summitted in winter.
Torre Traverse in a Day by Haley and Honnold
Colin Haley and Alex Honnold made the second ascent and first one-day ascent of the Torre Traverse in Patagonia, Argentina, in a staggering time of 20 hours and 40 minutes. This remarkable feat came 8 years after Colin made the first ascent of the traverse over 4 days alongside Rolando Garibotti in 2008.
Ashima Shiraishi repeats Horizon Font 8C
Ashima Shiraishi became the first female and youngest ever person at 14 to climb a Font 8C boulder by repeating Dai Koyamada's Horizon at Mt Hiei, Kyushu, Japan.
Rhapsody E11 7a repeated by Jacopo Larcher
Jacopo Larcher from Italy made the fifth ascent of Dave MacLeod's Rhapsody, E11 7a, at Dumbarton Rock.
James McHaffie completes every E9 in North Wales
James McHaffie had a 2016 summer trad siege by making the third ascent of Nick Dixon's Face Mecca E9 6c at Clogwyn Du'r Arddu (Cloggy) in a day and thereby ticked off every E9 in North Wales - having added a few of his own along the way. It's worth mentioning that 'Caff' was one of the most regularly reported-on climbers throughout the decade, and although he doesn't appear too frequently in this collection of global heavy-hitting headlines, he more than made his mark on the British trad scene in terms of mileage and new-routeing in the range of E7-E9.
Shauna's Big Weekend - MBE and Overall World Cup win
All eyes were on Shauna Coxsey in the sixth round of the IFSC Boulder World Cup in Vail, Colorado in 2016. A top-three finish would secure her the overall IFSC Boulder World Cup title - a feat she achieved, taking 2nd place in the event. However, Shauna perhaps never would have expected that partway through the competition, she would be able to add three letters to her name: Shauna Coxsey MBE.
Sport Climbing makes Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Following a vote at the 129th Session of the International Olympic Committee in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sport Climbing was selected as part of a package of five new sports - alongside baseball/softball, surfing, skateboarding and karate - to be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Session voted unanimously for the inclusion of the package, and marked the end of a long lobbying campaign by the IFSC to convince the IOC of Sport Climbing's merits.
The Path 5.14a/ 8b+ R flashed by Alex Megos
Alex Megos flashed Sonnie Trotter's The Path 5.14a/8b+ R. Having repeated the hardest Canada had to offer in terms of sport climbing, and having added some first ascents including Fightclub, 9b, Alex Megos decided to have a play at trad climbing.
Winter Solo Ascent of Torre Egger by Marc-Andre Leclerc
Canadian alpinist Marc-Andre Leclerc made the second winter ascent of Torre Egger - the first solo ascent in winter and only the second solo ascent ever - in a 21-hour push. With this ascent, Marc-Andre completed his project of soloing the three main summits in the Cerro Torre group.
World's First 9A by Nalle Hukkataival - Burden of Dreams
Nalle Hukkataival finally linked the moves on what used to be the Lappnor project at Lappnor (~100km east of Helsinki, Finland). From then on it would be known as Burden of Dreams, the world's first Font 9A boulder.
First Ascent in Tibet by Bullock and Ramsden
Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden made the first ascent of a 1600m, ED+ route up the North Buttress of Nyainqêntanglha's South East Face (7046m) in Tibet, China over seven days. They won a Piolet d'Or for this ascent.
Pete Whittaker makes all-free Rope Solo of El Cap in a Day
Pete Whittaker made the first all-free solo ascent of El Capitan, Yosemite in a day, using rope solo techniques. Pete climbed the classic 37-pitch Freerider 5.12d in just 20 hours and 6 minutes, which he flashed in 2014.
First repeat of Es Pontas DWS 9a+ by Jernej Kruder
Slovenian Jernej Kruder made the coveted 2nd ascent of Chris Sharma's Es Pontas. Sharma never graded the route, although it's thought to be in the region of 9a+.
Adam Ondra repeats the Dawn Wall
Adam arrived in Yosemite Valley on 13th October and less than 7 weeks later he topped out on the hardest big wall climb in the world, making the first - and to date the only - repeat of the line.
Second Ascent of Metanoia
Thomas Huber, Roger Schaeli and Stephan Siegrist made the coveted second ascent of Jeff Lowe's legendary route Metanoia on the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland, 25 years after Lowe's remarkable solo ascent. Metanoia was established in 1991. The route had been attempted before by several parties without success.
Margo Hayes climbs La Rambla 9a+
Margo Hayes broke the women's sport climbing barrier of 9a+ by repeating Ramon Julián Puigblanque's La Rambla (extension), 9a+, at Siurana in Spain. This was the first female ascent of a confirmed 9a+ route, and it would be the first of a few for Margo so far...
Ueli Steck dies on Everest
Swiss Alpinist Ueli Steck - known as the 'Swiss Machine' - died in an accident on Mount Everest. His body was discovered by six rescuers near the Nuptse Face of Everest. In a report on Reuters, Kamal Prasad Parajuli, an official with Nepal's Department of Tourism, confirmed that Steck "slipped and fell 1000 metres" in the Western Cwm, near Camp Two. Ueli held numerous speed records, notably for the North Face trilogy in the Alps.
Steve McClure establishes Rainman 9b
Steve McClure finally ticked his long-term super project at Malham Cove to establish the UK's first 9b, which he appropriately named Rainman. The line starts up Raindogs 8a, negotiates the crux of Rainshadow 9a, then leads up Batman 9a/+ before finishing up Bat Route 8c and also incorporates some new ground. The line's working title was The Easy Easy - a play on 'La Dura Dura' 9b+.
Alex Honnold solos Freerider on El Capitan
The biggest climbing news of the decade, surely? Everyone remembers where they were when news of Alex Honnold's El Cap solo broke. On 3rd June 2017, Honnold began climbing Freerider at 5:32am and topped out in 3 hours and 56 minutes. This ascent is undoubtedly one of the most significant in the history of the sport and it considerably boosted the profile of both Honnold and climbing itself.
8B+ Flash in Rocklands by Ned Feehally
Ned Feehally flashed Nalle Hukkataival's Trust Issues at the Realm area in Rocklands, making him the 4th person to have flashed a boulder problem at the grade of Font 8B+ after Daniel Woods (Entlinge), Adam Ondra (Gecko Assis and Jade) and Jimmy Webb (The Globalist).
Sweet Neuf 9a+ First Ascent by Anak Verhoeven
Anak Verhoeven made the first ascent of Sweet Neuf, 9a+ at Pierrot Beach, France. This is the hardest single pitch first ascent and was only the second ever 9a+ by a woman.
Biographie 9a+ by Margo Hayes
Margo Hayes repeated Chris Sharma's iconic Biographie, 9a+, at Céüse, France. This was the first female ascent of Biographie and Margo's second of the grade after La Rambla, which she repeated in February. The route attracted the attention of other women who were pushing for the FFA, notably Janja Garnbret, who fell from the last hard move on her sixth attempt.
Adam Ondra climbs the World's First 9c, Silence
Featuring upside-down toe looks in incredibly steep terrain, Adam Ondra's Silence deserved a grade of its own: 9c. Adam completed his long-term project at the Flatanger cave in Norway, which was given the working title of Project Hard. Silence is the first route of the grade and remains the hardest sport climb in the world.
World's First D16 by Gordon McArthur
Canadian ice and drytool climber Gordon McArthur established the world's first D16 in a cave near his home in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Gordon named the line Storm Giant, which climbs 80 metres through a steep roof with over 50 bolts for protection. The route took Gordon three years in total to clean, bolt and eventually climb.
Hayden Kennedy dies aged 27
US alpinist Hayden Kennedy died at the age of 27. Having survived an avalanche whilst ski touring in the southern Madison Mountains near Bozeman, which killed his partner Inge Perkins on Saturday, Hayden took his life the following day. Hayden was a highly talented and respected climber with all-round abilities in the mountains, having made noteworthy ascents worldwide, from hard rock routes near his home in Colorado to new routes on Himalayan peaks.
First Female 9b by Angy Eiter
Continuing the 2017 theme of breaking boundaries in women's climbing, Austrian climber Angela 'Angy' Eiter became the first woman to climb 9b. Angy redpointed Adam Ondra's La Planta de Shiva 9b at Villanueva del Rosario, Spain after spending time on the line over several trips in the previous two years.
First Female D15 by Angelika Rainer
Italian ice and drytool climber Angelika Rainer became the first woman to climb D15 with an ascent of A Line Above the Sky at Tomorrow's World in the Dolomites, Italy.
Nuptse South Face climbed in Alpine Style
A team of French guides who go by the name of 'Le Gang des Moustaches' made an alpine style ascent of Nuptse's south face in the Nepal Himalaya. Hélias Millerioux, Frédéric Degoulet and Benjamin Guigonnet established a new line leading to the summit of Nuptse west, AKA Nuptse Nup II (7742m), which required six days of effort following two previous attempts in past seasons. Aside from their fine facial hair, the team's ascent was highly impressive and earned them a Piolet d'Or.
Free Ascent of Salathé Wall by Hazel Findlay
Hazel Findlay made a free ascent of the classic 35 pitch Salathé Wall on El Capitan's Southwest Face, Yosemite Valley. Hazel worked the line for four days from above before completing the route in an eight day push. This was her fourth free route on El Capitan.
First Repeat of Magic Mushroom by Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl
Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl made the first repeat of Magic Mushroom, the 8b+ multi pitch on El Capitan, Yosemite. This Steve Sutton and Hugh Burton route was first climbed free by Tommy Caldwell and Justin Sjong in May 2012. It is one of the most sustained routes on El Cap, with 12 pitches in the 7c+ to 8b+ range.
Rescue on Nanga Parbat
January saw the dramatic rescue of French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol and the death of her climbing partner Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat. Elisabeth and Tomasz reached the summit (8126m) after which Tomasz became ill and eventually unresponsive. Elisabeth descended alone, while a rescue team comprising elite mountaineers Adam Bielecki, Denis Urubko, Jaroslaw Botor and Piotr Tomala were dropped below Nanga Parbat Base Camp at 4900m. Adam and Denis climbed to Camp 2 at 6100m, meeting Elizabeth and ensuring her safe descent to Camp I, where she was taken by helicopter to the hospital in Islamabad. This marked the start of an eventful year of helicopter rescues in Pakistan.
Ondra flashes 9a+
Adam Ondra (who else?) made the world's first 9a+ flash of Supercrackinette 9a+, achieving a long-held ambition after numerous failed flash attempts on other climbs around the world.
Uisdean Hawthorn sets Winter Cuillin Record
Uisdean Hawthorn set a new speed record for a winter Cuillin traverse, knocking over one hour off the previous known fastest time. Seizing an opportunistic weather/conditions window, and with minimal planning, Uisdean set off from Sgurr nan Gillean just after 8am. Travelling solo and unsupported, he capitalised on good firm snow cover to reach Gars-bheinn at the southern end of the ridge just 4 hours 57 minutes and 7 seconds later.
Marc-André Leclerc dies in Alaska
Accomplished Canadian alpinist Marc-André Leclerc (25) died in an accident while climbing near Juneau, Alaska together with his partner Ryan Johnson. On 5th March, the pair had established a new route on the north face of the Main Tower of the Mendenhall Towers, but were reported missing after they failed to return as planned on Wednesday 7th.
Perfecto Mundo 9b+ by Alex Megos and Stefano Ghisolfi
In May, Alex Megos made the first ascent of Perfecto Mundo, 9b+, at Margalef, Spain, thereby becoming the third person to climb this grade after Adam Ondra and Chris Sharma. Stefano Ghisolfi added his name to the list by repeating the line in December.
Kaddi Lehmann boulders 8C
German boulderer Kaddi Lehmann made the fourth ascent of Franz Widmer's Kryptos at Morchelstock in the Balsthal, Switzerland, becoming only the second woman in the world to climb 8C, after Ashima Shiraishi.
Gukov Rescue & Latok I First Ascent from the North
Another dramatic rescue took place in July on the North Ridge of Latok I (7145m). Alexander Gukov's climbing partner Sergei Glazunov fell to his death while abseiling above 6000m on 25th July, leaving Gukov stranded in harsh weather conditions. Poor weather continuously hampered rescue efforts on the mountain, but after 6 days without food or water and no communication by sat phone, Gukov was rescued by pilots of the 5th Pakistani Army Aviation High Altitude Squadron.
A few weeks later, a British-Slovenian team consisting of Tom Livingstone, Aleš Česen and Luka Strazar made the coveted first ascent of Latok I (7145m) in the Pakistan Karakoram from the north. The team decided against an integral ascent of the North Ridge and instead opted for a safer line on the face in the last quarter, summiting via the West Col and making only the second ever ascent of Latok I and the first from the north.
Daniel Jung repeats Recovery Drink 5.14+
German sport climbing star Daniel Jung made the much sought after first repeat of Nico Favresse's 2013 steep crack test piece Recovery Drink on the Profilveggen at Jøssingfjord in Norway, beating crack connoisseurs such as Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker to the tick.
Solo first ascent of Lunag Ri by David Lama
In October, Austrian alpinist David Lama completed the first ascent of Lunag Ri's main summit (6907m) on the border between Nepal and Tibet, solo and after two unsuccessful attempts in the last three years. In 2015, Lama and Conrad Anker reached 300m short of the summit after a three day ascent. The next year, following Anker's heart attack at 5800m, Lama continued alone and was forced to retreat 250m below the summit.
Meltdown first repeat by Carlo Traversi
US climber Carlo Traversi made the long-awaited first repeat of Beth Rodden's Meltdown 5.14c/8c+ at the Upper Cascade Falls, Yosemite Valley. Rodden made the first ascent in 2008 and the line was both the hardest single pitch trad climb in the USA and the hardest trad climb established by a woman at the time (and to our knowledge, remains so).
Pete Whittaker rope solos El Cap and Half Dome in a day
Pete Whittaker made another mark in Yosemite's history books in 2018. He rope-soloed Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite in 20 hours and 19 minutes. This is believed to be the first sub-24 hour 'Big Linkup' since Dean Potter and Hans Florine's ascents in 1999, with the exception of Alex Honnold's sub-24 'Triple Crown' solo in 2012. Adding to the significance of his achievement, Pete had only climbed The Nose twice, Half Dome once and had not soloed either route before.
Honnold and Caldwell climb The Nose in sub 2 hours
In June, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell set their third speed record on The Nose of El Capitan in the space of a week, breaking the 2 hour barrier that they had set their sights on, with a time of 1 hour, 58 minutes and 7 seconds (1:58:07). On 4th June, they stopped the clock after 2:01:53, just five days after they set a time of 2:10:15. That's over 2,600m (3 x ~880m) of Yosemite granite climbed at speed in the space of a week...
Keita Kurakami rope-solo frees The Nose
Relatively unknown Japanese climber Keita Kurakami's free ascent of The Nose in rope solo style came as a surprise at a time when some big names were announcing attempts at 'the free Nose.' As if a free ascent with a partner wasn't impressive enough, Keita climbed, abseiled and jumared the classic line alone; all pitches freed in a single push from the ground over 5 days. Keita had redpointed each pitch the previous year, but didn't feel satisfied with his achievement, having not completed a free ascent in a single push from the ground. This was his first big wall rope solo ascent...
15 year-old Connor Herson frees The Nose
Freeing The Nose is a lifetime ambition for many a top climber, but for 15-year-old American Connor Herson, he achieved his goal a fair bit earlier than the 5(!) people who went before him. Not only did he make the youngest ascent to date, but he also climbed the classic in good style with no fixed ropes and completed the full ascent over a 3-day period with his dad in between school commitments. 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of the first free ascent of The Nose by Lynn Hill, and what a year it was...
The Year of the Mainstream Climbing Movie
Two major climbing films were released in 2018: Free Solo, which documents Alex Honnold's solo ascent of Freerider on El Capitan in 2017, and The Dawn Wall, which tells the story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's first ascent of the route of the same name in 2015. Both won numerous awards and were screened at multiple film festivals and events around the globe.
Emma Twyford on a roll
Emma Twyford had a stellar year in 2018. With two E9s (Once Upon a Time in the South West E9 6c, The Big Issue E9 6c) two E8s - including the infamous Nightmayer E8 6c - and an 8c (Mind Control) under her belt, we knew it would be worth watching this space for news about Emma in 2019...
Indian Face repeated by Angus Kille
In July, Indian Face saw its 8th ascent by local lad Angus Kille - the first ascent in five years since the sending spree of summer 2013, which saw three ascents in one week.
Dave MacLeod's Big Day Out
One of the most-read news reports of 2018 concerned Scottish all-rounder Dave MacLeod. Dave completed a long-held ambition to complete what he calls his '24/8' challenge - climbing a Font 8A+ boulder, an E8 trad route, an 8a sport route, a VIII,8 winter route and 8 Munros within 24 hours. Dave managed the challenge in 18.5 hours after many years of waiting for perfect conditions to align for all disciplines.
World's second 9A by Charles Albert
Barefoot climber Charles Albert added the world's second Font 9A, No Kpote Only at Rocher Brûlé in Fontainebleau.
Sport Climbing provisionally included in Paris 2024 Olympic Games
Sport climbing came one step closer to earning a place at a second Olympic Games. At the 134th International Olympic Committee session in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC unanimously voted to provisionally include Sport Climbing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The final decision on the sports to be included in Paris 2024 will be made in December 2020.
Free Solo wins Best Documentary Feature Oscar
Free Solo, the documentary film of Alex Honnold's historic solo of Freerider on El Capitan won a Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards in Hollywood. Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and produced by National Geographic, the 100-minute film accrued a total worldwide gross of $28.6 million, having screened in numerous cinemas and at events worldwide.
Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi die on Nanga Parbat
The pair went missing during an attempt at a first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat's (8126m) Mummery Ridge on the Diamir face. Severe weather conditions and high avalanche risk hampered rescue efforts and the subsequent search for bodies. Those involved in the expedition and rescue efforts believe that the pair were hit by an avalanche, which was audible to villagers within a radius of some miles.
Margo Hayes ticks Papichulo 9a+
Margo Hayes continued her consolidation of 9a+ by redpointing her third of the grade with an ascent of Papichulo 9a+ at Oliana, Spain.
Maddy Cope climbs Prinzip Hoffnung F8b+/E9/10
Maddy Cope climbed Prinzip Hoffnung (F8b+/E9/10) at Burs in Austria. The route attracted a great deal of attention in 2019, with Michi Wohlleben, Nadine Wallner and Maddy all climbing the route in the same two weeks.
Jim Reynolds free solos up and down Fitz Roy
25-year-old Californian climber Jim Reynolds free soloed Cerro Fitz Roy in Argentine Patagonia, both ascending and downclimbing the peak with no use of ropes or gear. Reynolds soloed up and down the Northwest Ridge (Afanassieff route, 5.10c) in a time of 15.5 hours. Although lower in technical rock climbing difficulty than Alex Honnold's 2017 free solo of Freerider (5.13a) on El Capitan, Reynolds' navigation through mixed terrain on rock, snow and ice and his decision to avoid an abseil descent arguably combined to make it one of the most impressive solo ascents of all time.
Hardest Crack Line by the WideBoyz
Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall made another hard first ascent in the Utah desert – Black Mamba 5.14b – their hardest roof crack yet. This ascent came just days after they made the first repeats of Necronomicon 5.13d/5.14a.
Avalanche kills David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley
The bodies of world-class Austrian mountaineers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer and leading US alpinist Jess Roskelley were recovered following an avalanche on 16th April on Howse Peak in Banff National Park, Canada. The three climbers were attempting to make the first repeat of M16 (VI WI7+ A2), a route on the peak's East Face established in 1999 by Steve House, Barry Blanchard and Scott Backes when a size 3 avalanche was presumed to have killed them.
13-year-old Mishka Ishi climbs Font 8C
13-year-old Japanese climber Mishka Ishi climbed Dai Koyamada's Byaku-dou (Font 8C) in Horai, Japan. Only two women had climbed at this level before; Ashima Shirashi with her ascent of Horizon in 2016 and Katrin Lehmann who climbed Kryptos in 2018. Ishi is the youngest person to climb a Font 8C.
First Ascent of Greatness Wall E10 7a
Steve McClure made the first ascent of the headwall project at Nesscliffe. Steve named the route Greatness Wall and graded it E10 7a. The project had been attempted by Nesscliffe legend Nick Dixon and attracted attention from Ed Booth and James McHaffie.
Janja Garnbret sweeps Boulder World Cup Season
6/6 wins – a first in the history of the World Cup circuit for the young Slovenian. Garnbret also became the first woman to win overall World Cup titles in two disciplines, following her three consecutive overall lead wins in 2016, 2017 and 2018, in addition to having already become the first woman to win the World Championships in two - and now three - disciplines (Lead 2016, Boulder 2018 and 2019, Combined 2019). Over the course of the 2019 season, Garnbret topped a staggering 74/78 boulders across all rounds. Janja is seeded in 1st place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Free Pre-Muir Wall and The Nose by Babsi Zangerl
Austrian all-rounder Babsi Zangerl freed the Pre-Muir 5.13c/d on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California. This was Babsi's fourth free ascent of El Cap, having made the first female free ascents of El Nino in 2015, Zodiac in 2016 and the first free repeat of Magic Mushroom in 2017. Her partner Jacopo Larcher came agonisingly close to a free ascent, just falling short at the top of the iconic crux 5.13c/d stemming corner. In November, she made ticked her 5th free route on El Cap, by climbing The Nose to make a double free ascent alongside Jacopo. Belgian climber Sébastien Berthe also made an unexpected free ascent this Autumn.
Seb Bouin repeats Ondra's Move 9b+
Seb Bouin seemed to be hitting the headlines on a weekly basis in 2019. His major feat was making the second ascent of Adam Ondra's Move (9b/+) at Flatanger, Norway. Seb belayed Adam when he made the first ascent in 2013 and it had been a 'long journey' since then. He started working the route in 2016-17, taking five trips of 2-3 weeks each. For most of his trips, he went to Flatanger alone and tried to find climbing partners at the crag.
Steve McClure onsights Nightmayer E8 6c
Steve McClure made the first onsight ascent of Steve Mayer's Nightmayer E8 6c on Dinas Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass. The route features sustained technical climbing, long run-outs, some iffy gear and a tricky high crux. It was made famous by a video of Belgian climber Nico Favresse taking a huge lob from the top crux, which was also written about by Nick Bullock (UKC article).
First ascent of Link Sar by Steve Swenson and Team
The first ascent of Link Sar (7,041m) in the Eastern Karakoram in Pakistan was made by a group of four American mountaineers in August: Steve Swenson, Graham Zimmerman, Chris Wright and Mark Richey.
Third Ascent of Recovery Drink by Pete Whittaker
Pete Whittaker made the third ascent of Nico Favresse's 2013 testpiece Recovery Drink 8c+, a steep crack on the Profilveggen - 'Profile Wall' - in Jøssingfjord in Norway. The line has attracted crack connoisseurs including 'Wideboyz' Tom Randall and Pete over the last 12 months, but it was German Daniel Jung who beat them to it for the coveted second ascent in August 2018.
Shauna Coxsey books an Olympic Ticket
By qualifying for the final of the Combined World Championships in Hachioji, Japan, Shauna earned a quota place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the earliest possible opportunity. She finished 3rd in the final and is therefore seeded 3rd for the Olympic Games in August 2020.
Emma Twyford becomes first British Woman to climb 9a
Emma Twyford became the first British woman to climb 9a with a redpoint of The Big Bang at Lower Pen Trwyn, North Wales. Emma's ascent is only the third of this route, first climbed in 1996 by Neil Carson. She ticked the line just before winter conditions would make an ascent impossible and celebrated with prosecco.
Mind Riot E10 7a by Dave MacLeod
Dave MacLeod completed his long-term project at Binnein Shuas, Lochaber, to make the first ascent of Mind Riot E10 7a. In a stellar year, Dave also made the third ascent of the Scottish testpiece Hunger 9a at The Anvil after failing on the route over a decade ago.
Andy Pollitt dies aged 56
'80s climbing legend Andy Pollitt died aged 56 after suffering a cerebral aneurysm. Andy was born in Prestatyn, Wales, in 1963 and went on to pioneer some of the hardest sport and trad routes of the 80s and 90s in Wales and beyond, eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia. He was a keen user of the UKC forums and a well-loved member of the UKC community.
Third Ascent of Perfecto Mundo 9b+ by Jakob Schubert
Top Austrian climber Jakob Schubert made the third ascent of Alex Megos's Perfecto Mundo (9b+) at Margalef - Zona del Panta North, Spain. The route was bolted by Chris Sharma who worked the route on and off for a few years before attempting it with Alex Megos. Stefano Ghisolfi made the second ascent in December 2018.
Magic Line 8c+ by Hazel Findlay
Hazel Findlay repeated Ron Kauk's highly aesthetic Magic Line 8c+ (5.14c) 35m line at Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. After one month of sessions working the line, Hazel ticked her project on her last day before leaving the Valley. Hazel's ascent is only the second redpoint ascent after Ron's son Lonnie Kauk made the first ascent placing gear on lead in November 2018. Ron's 1996 ascent was made using pre-placed gear, also known as a pinkpoint ascent.
Brad Gobright dies in Accident in El Potrero Chico
31-year-old Californian climber Brad Gobright died in an accident while descending on the classic multipitch El Sendero Luminoso on El Toro in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. Gobright was known for his audacious free solo ascents - including Hairstyles and Attitudes 5.12b/c on the Bastille in Eldorado Canyon and his multiple free solos of the Rostrum in Yosemite - in addition to his many record-breaking speed ascents of big wall climbs.
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