Babsi Zangerl repeats Rodden's Meltdown 5.14c/8c+

© Babsi Zangerl Collection/Ben Neilson

Babsi Zangerl has made the fourth ascent of Beth Rodden's Meltdown (5.14c/8c+) at Upper Cascade Falls, Yosemite Valley. This rarely repeated line was first climbed by Rodden in 2008 and, for a while, was not only the hardest single-pitch trad climb in the USA but also the hardest trad climb established by a woman at the time (and to our knowledge, remains so).

Zangerl first looked at the route in 2016 for a couple of days in between attempts on El Cap but got to work in earnest last year, although she had to admit defeat after snowstorms moved through the valley. She returned to Yosemite two weeks ago and began working the route again. Writing about her experience, she said:

'For me, it was a real mental battle. I had to reduce my gear to a minimum to save some power, because to get through the crux was always a low percentage. It was not even close to 50/50 that my foot stuck on the tiny mini-edge. My foot slipped so many times. When I got past this hard sequence today I knew that it was my chance; I had to keep it together. But it is still not over there. The upper part of the route was still very hard, and very tricky to place the final micro-nut. I almost fell off on the last two hard moves.

'Such an iconic line and big thanks to Beth Rodden for the inspiration, you are a legend!'

The route was an old Ron Kauk project which follows a thin seam of fingerlocks and laybacks. While the line is not particularly dangerous, the gear is small, fiddly, blind, and hard to place. Rodden's first ascent was featured in the classic climbing film collation Dosage V back in 2008, but it wasn't until 2016 when US climber Carlo Traversi made the second ascent.

At the time of his ascent, Traversi sang the praises of both the line's quality and Rodden's ascent:

'A huge thanks to Beth Rodden for the vision, tenacity, and incredible climbing ability that brought this route to life over 10 years ago. The First Ascent of this route is a benchmark in the history of climbing and is one of the most impressive achievements I can think of in the last few decades. Respect.'

Zangerl has also stated that she believes this is the hardest trad route she has climbed and that it felt hard for the grade. She is no stranger to climbing at the very highest level and in the past couple of years has repeated James Pearson's Le Voyage (E10 7a), Sprengstoff (9a), and Eternal Flame (VI 7c+ [5.13a], 650m) on the south face of Trango Tower (6,240m).

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