The world of sport climbing has progressed in leaps and bounds since the days of the first 5.13 (The Phoenix in Yosemite) which was done by Ray Jardine in 1977.
Standards have continued to increase, year over year, reaching a high point in 1991 when Wolfgang Gullich sent the now incredibly famous “Action Direct”, the world’s first 9a. But 9a wasn’t the limit, and in the Age of Sharma, Ondra, Megos and now up and coming top pros like Jakob Schubert and Seb Bouin, even 9b+ is becoming the realm of more than just a single climber.
There are an ever increasing list of hard climbs, and here are the world’s hardest (as of the beginning of 2020).
La Rage D’Adam // 9b/+ (5.15b/c)
“La Rage D’Adam” is a hard, steep sport route located in the Verdon region of France, the home climbing zone of Seb Bouin. Seb managed to redpoint the route in September, 2019 after a great deal of effort and time. The route is around 8c up to an absolutely vicious boulder problem that gives the route it’s grade. To date, the grade is un-comfirmed, however, as Seb has also sent “Move”, which is also 9b/+ and also one of the World’s Hardest Sport climbs
Move // 9b/+ (5.15b/c)
“Move” is another difficult roof route put up by Adam Ondra in 2013 in the famous Hanshelleren cave in Flatanger, Norway. The route combines a stiff 9a “warm up” section that leads into an incredibly strenuous crux just before the lip of the roof. The route was repeated by Seb Bouin in June 2019.
El Bon Combat // 9b/+ (5.15b/c)
“El Bon Combat” is a route by Chris Sharma in the Cova De l’ocell region of Catalunya, near Barcelona in Spain. The route was sent by Sharma in 2015, and later repeated by both Jakob Schubert and Filipe Camargo. The route was potentially downgraded by Jakob, suggesting the route was potentially “only” 5.15a.
I know it’s easy to not think about it and just take the grade of the first ascensionist which is 9b/9b+ (5.15b/c) in this case but I feel the responsibility to have more thoughts about it. For me it felt easier from the first day I tried it and i would guess it’s a hard 9a+ (5.15a).
Jakob had already sent 3 other 5.15b’s including Fight or Flight, Stoking the Fire, and Planta de Shiva.
Vasil Vasil // 9b+ (5.15c)
“Vasil Vasil” is a route put up by Adam Ondra in 2013. The route was bolted by Adam in 2008, but took him many years to complete the route, giving it the (at the time) maximum grade of 5.15c/9b+. The route is in a relatively unknown region of the Czech Republic called Sloup. The route has yet to see a repeat.
Change // 9b+ (5.15c)
“Change” is another 5.15c/9b+ put up by Adam Ondra in the Flatanger Cave in Norway (the same location as “Move”, and “Silence”). Another route with no repeats from anyone other than Adam, it will be interesting to see climbers such as Seb Bouin, Jakob, Alex Megos and others begin to repeat some of these hard climbs.
Perfecto Mundo // 9b+ (5.15c)
Perfecto Mundo is a stunning line located in the Margalef region of Spain. The line was first bolted by Chris Sharma in 2010, and at the time, he say it as a futuristic project beyond his abilities at the time. Chris spent many years working on the project with no success, and eventually moved on to other projects (sending La Dura Dura in 2012).
The line was finally sent by Alex Megos on May 9, 2018 after many weeks of work on the project. Alex is best known for sending hard routes up to 9a+ and 9b in very short time spans. Putting many of these projects down in as few as 5 days. This line represented the most time and effort Alex had ever put into a project.
The line was shortly after repeated by Stefano Ghisolfi and then Jakob Schubert.
La Dura Dura // 9b+ (5.15c)
La Dura Dura is one of the most famous hard routes in the world. First bolted by Chris Sharma in 2009, it was famously sent on February 07, 2013 by Adam Ondra after many seasons of effort with Sharma. Chris then returned and sent the route shortly after. A the time, it was the world’s hardest sport climb, and was featured in Reel Rock 7
Silence // 9c (5.15d)
Silence is currently the World’s hardest sport climb. The route was again bolted by Adam Ondra as a futuristic line ascending a steep section of the Hanshallaren cave in Flatanger, Norway. The route took many seasons of effort to climb, but Adam finally clipped the chains on September 03, 2017. The route famously features an awful, inverted roof crack that Adam climbs upside down, followed by many double digit boulder problems with little rest in between.
While Silence is currently the World’s hardest sport climb, there are other projects currently being worked on by climbers like Alex Megos and Seb Bouin in Ceuse which could match or exceed Silence in terms of difficulty. Only time will tell, but if history is any lesson, it’s that there is always someone stronger out there who will push the limits that no one thought was possible.