chaehyun seo la rambla
Chaehyun Seo, seen here on "Migranya Profundo" (5.14a), became the second woman to climb "La Rambla"; (photo/screenshot)

Teenager Becomes 6th Woman to Climb 5.15: Sends ‘La Rambla’ in ‘Dream’ Ascent

If you think indoor climbers aren’t rock climbers, you’re not hip to the latest dish from 19-year-old Chaehyun Seo.

There’s the crusty, old climbing axiom that gym climbers can’t get the job done outside. And there’s a reason it’s crusty and old.

The latest case in point: Olympic climber Chaehyun Seo, who became the world’s sixth woman to send 5.15 by redpointing “La Rambla” (9a+/5.15a). The successful effort took her just seven attempts.

Seo dropped the news via Instagram on Nov. 22. In the post, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Champion disclosed something that might surprise anyone who thinks she’s “just a gym climber”: She’s been eyeing “La Rambla” for quite a while.

“Send it on my 7th try was just amazing! It’s been one of my biggest dream in my climbing life, and I still can’t believe that what happened today,” Seo wrote, along with the “holding back tears” emoji.

 

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As the South Korean noted, her redpoint marked the second female ascent of “La Rambla.” Seo followed in the tracks of Margo Hayes, who famously opened the 5.15 grade for women on the route in 2017.

That year, Hayes’ iconic effort swept international audiences away via a Reel Rock spot (“Break On Through“). Hayes’ stunning displays of creativity and flexibility helped her resolve segments of the route that ran contrary to her style.

There’s no video of Seo on “La Rambla” out as I write this, but I would bet on seeing more of the same from her. Seo’s status as a veteran competition climber gives her experience in a singularly acrobatic style.

Not only that, but her endurance is astounding. That’s evident from climbs like “Migranya Profunda,” which she also recently breezed through in Siurana.

Between Hayes and Seo, four other women broke through the 5.15 threshold: Anak Verhoeven, Angela Eiter, Julia Chanourdie, and Laura Rogora. Rogora holds the hardest redpoint by a woman with “Erebor,” 5.15b/c, and Verhoeven secured the only 5.15 first ascent by a woman with “Sweet Neuf,” 5.15a.

For Seo, it’s the first time she’s unlocked a new grade since she was 14. That year, 2018, she redpointed “Bad Girls Club,” 5.14d, in Rifle, Colo.

Seo signed off on social media with a signature move for anyone used to performing in front of crowds: a graceful bow.

“Thank you for giving me huge cheering, was just awesome,” she wrote. We can only hope she can hear the noise inside the GearJunkie newsroom.

hardest female rock climb
Laura Rogora Sends 5.15b/c 'Erebor,' Hardest Grade by a Female Climber
On Oct. 2, 20-year-old Laura Rogora set a new benchmark for the hardest rock climb done by a female climber. Three women, including Rogora, had previously climbed 5.15b. After 'Erebor,' 5.15b/c is the new benchmark. Read more…

Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.