Hardest sport climbing routes in the world Silence Adam Ondra La Dura Dura Sharma Megos Ghisolfi

The Hardest Sport Climbing Routes

Sport climbing is a discipline that challenges climbers with routes that demand exceptional strength, endurance, and technical skill. Over the years, climbers have continually pushed the boundaries of what’s possible, establishing routes that defy the imagination. This article delves into some of the hardest sport climbing routes in the world, showcasing the pinnacle of climbing difficulty and the remarkable climbers who have conquered them.

Silence (9c/5.15d) – Flatanger, Norway

Topping the list is “Silence,” the world’s first route graded 9c (5.15d), located in the Hanshelleren Cave in Flatanger, Norway. Climbed by Czech climber Adam Ondra in September 2017, Silence is the epitome of climbing difficulty, combining extreme physical strength with unparalleled mental fortitude. The route features a series of incredibly hard moves, showcasing the upper limits of human climbing capability. Silence has not got a second ascent although very good climbers like Stefano Ghisolfi have been projecting it. 

B.I.G (9c) – Flatanger, Norway

A groundbreaking addition to the elite climbs of the world, “B.I.G” in Flatanger, Norway, was first ascended by Jakob Schubert in September 2023. Bolted by Adam Ondra in 2013, around the same time as the iconic “Silence,” B.I.G has quickly become a focal point for climbers pushing the limits of the sport. Schubert’s ascent was marked by a heart-stopping moment when he snapped a jug in the upper section, narrowly avoiding a fall. After thorough reflection and discussions with Ondra, Schubert proposed a grade of 9c for B.I.G, placing it a whole step beyond the confirmed 9b+ routes like “Perfecto Mundo.” This climb challenges the climber with a blend of technical mastery and mental fortitude, setting a new benchmark in the climbing world for difficulty and ambition.

La Dura Dura (9b+/5.15c) – Oliana, Spain

La Dura Dura is another testament to the extreme levels of sport climbing. Adam Ondra was the first to climb this route, later followed by Chris Sharma, with both climbers agreeing on its 9b+ (5.15c) grade. The name, translating to “The Hard Hard,” perfectly encapsulates the essence of this climb. It’s a relentless overhang peppered with tiny holds, demanding unparalleled endurance and technique from anyone who attempts it.

Perfecto Mundo (9b+/5.15c) – Margalef, Spain

Another gem in Spain, “Perfecto Mundo” in Margalef, was first ascended by Alex Megos in 2018. This route is a showcase of endurance and technical skill, with a relentless sequence of hard moves that leave no room for error. Its completion marked a significant milestone in Megos’s climbing career and solidified the route’s status as one of the hardest in the world. The route has also been climbed by Jakob Schubert in 2019.

Change (9b+/5.15c) – Flatanger, Norway

Back in the Hanshelleren Cave, “Change” stands as another monumental route climbed by Adam Ondra in 2012. As the first route in the world to be graded 9b+ (5.15c), Change combines overhanging rock, requiring climbers to navigate through a maze of complex moves and sustain their strength over a lengthy climb, pushing the climber to their absolute limits.

Bibliographie (9b+/5.15c) – Céüse, France

The most recent addition to the list of world’s hardest climbs, “Bibliographie” in Céüse, France, was first climbed by Alex Megos in 2020. Initially proposed as a 9c (5.15d), it was later downgraded to 9b+ (5.15c) after a repeat by Stefano Ghisolfi. This route is characterized by its sustained difficulty, requiring not just explosive power but also incredible stamina and mental resilience.

Sleeping Lion (9b+/5.15c) – Siurana, Spain

Sleeping Lion located in  Siurana is a testament to the evolving challenges of sport climbing. The route is characterized by its small pockets, an intricate mix of bad rests, bouldery moves, and daring dynos, making it a significant addition to the climbing world.

Chris Sharma, at the age of 41, made the first ascent of Sleeping Lion on March 28th, 2023, marking his second 9b+ climb.  Alex Megos made the second ascent on January 5th, 2023, suggesting a downgrade to 9b, considering it more of an endurance route. Despite breaking a hold during his climb, which Sharma repaired, Megos felt the route’s grade remained unaffected, showcasing his impressive climbing prowess.

The Future of Sport Climbing

As climbers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, the list of the world’s hardest routes will undoubtedly evolve. Also climbing gear is continuously improving and for example new climbing shoes are getting better and better. These routes not only represent the physical and mental pinnacle of climbing achievement but also inspire future generations to dream big and challenge their limits. The progression of sport climbing is a testament to the human spirit’s relentless pursuit of excellence, and the climbers who tackle these routes are paving the way for new milestones in the sport.

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