Margo Hayes became the first woman to climb 5.15a this weekend with a send of ‘La Rambla’ in Catalonia, Spain.
Hayes, 19, from Boulder, Colo., completed the route on Feb. 26. No other woman has climbed a route of that difficulty before. Neither have very many men.
A route of the grade 5.15a is for the elite climber. The most difficult route ever established ranks at 5.15c, only two grades more difficult than what Hayes just sent.
Routes of this level are incredibly challenging. ‘La Rambla,’ for example, is 40 meters of unrelenting, overhanging rock. Tiny holds require near-superhuman strength to ascend. Only a tiny fraction of climbers ever come close to ascending this difficulty.
First Female 5.15a Sport Climb
In sport climbing, the climber ascends with a rope, attaching it to pre-placed bolts in the wall as they climb. This is the proven method of climbing the most challenging movements on single pitch routes.
When the difficulty of the grade gets to the upper tiers of human completion, there is more and more dispute about the validity of the grading. Previous female ascents of comparable difficulty include 5.14d/5.15a, a grade marked between both 5.14d and 5.15a.
Ashima Shirashi climbed 5.14d/5.15a in 2015 and Josune Bereziartu also climbed 5.14d/5.15a in 2005. Margo Hayes’s completion of ‘La Rambla,’ a distinct 5.15a grade, sets her accomplishment apart.
It establishes her at the pinnacle of the sport.
La Rambla, 5.15a
The route was first climbed by Alexander Huber in 1994. It has seen a total of 14 repeat ascents, with notable ascents by Edu Marin, Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra, Alexander Megos, and now Margo Hayes.
Hayes’s climbing partner, Matty Hong, also sent ‘La Rambla’ this week.
Hayes’s ascent is a milestone for women’s climbing. With a number of 5.14 ascents and now the world’s first 5.15a at just 19 years-old, her future looks promising indeed.