hardest female rock climb
A limestone crag near Arco, Italy — the approximate location of 'Erebor.' (Photo/Danny Iacob)

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.

Laura Rogora has claimed the mantle of the hardest route climbed by a woman. Stefano Ghisalfi’s “Erebor” (seemingly named after the Lonely Mountain from “The Hobbit”) at the Eremo di San Paolo crag near Arco is considered Italy’s hardest route at 5.15b/c.

In one fell swoop, Rogora snagged both the hardest female ascent and the route’s first repeat. In an Easter egg for her fans, she almost immediately posted uncut footage of the send (see below).

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Laura (@laura.rogora)

The Italian claimed definitive “world’s hardest” status for women by breaking her own previous personal best, which she shared with two other climbers. Angela Eiter broke the 5.15b ceiling for women with her 2017 ascent of “Planta de Shiva” in Andalucia, Spain.

Then in 2020, Rogora and Julie Chanourdie joined the club — Rogora with “Ali Hulk Extension Sit Start” in Rodellar, and Chanourdie with “Eagle 4” in Saint Léger du Ventoux, France.

Erebor: The First Female 5.15b/c

But Laura Rogora put herself alone at the top with her repeat of Erebor. First ascensionist Ghisalfi took to Instagram to comment on the significance of Rogora’s send.

“I am probably the only one in the world who fully understands what this means,” Ghisalfi said.

Rogora is nothing short of virtuosic on the send. At 4’11”, she dances up the rock with tiny holds, sequency heel hooks and calculated rests. When she moves, it’s decisive, athletic, and impressively powerful for someone her size. She makes no noise — until, at the top, she makes a lot of it.

Watching the video leaves zero doubt about how hard the route is. And Ghisalfi is no stranger to judging the objective difficulty of challenging routes — earlier this year, he downgraded Alex Megos’s “Bibliographie,” then the world’s second 5.15d. According to the 5.15 aficionado, Erebor is very much the real deal.

“In my opinion, I never climbed in Italy something as hard as this route,” Ghisalfi said on Instagram. “But I still think it doesn’t reach the full 9b+ comparing it to Change or Perfecto Mundo. Therefore, my grade suggestion is 9b/+. That makes it the hardest route in Italy and my proudest first ascent, and I’m looking forward to someone coming and repeating it soon!”

Rogora obliged but has yet to offer her own opinion on the route’s difficulty. Despite her youth and young career, Rogora has established herself. At 14, she became the second-youngest person to climb 5.14d. She’s an accomplished first ascensionist, having established routes up to 5.14d, and a successful IFSC competition climber.

Sam Anderson
By

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.