Climbing News: A Roundup of What’s Happening Out There

Cimbing News is a series at Moja Gear where we bring you an assortment of stories within the community. We explore what’s happening, where it’s going down, and why it’s important. Have other news to share? Leave it in the comments. Onward!


Story 1: 3 major updates on Yosemite’s El Cap

Update 1: Adam Ondra begins Dawn Wall push

On the morning of Monday, November 14th, Adam Ondra began his first (and perhaps his only) ground-up attempt to claim the second free ascent of the Dawn Wall.

He completed the first nine pitches in about six hours, finishing around 9 a.m. as the day became too warm for climbing. Ondra and his climbing partner, Pavel Blažek, rested for a little over a day, then began their next bout of climbing on the evening of November 15th.

That night, Ondra went on to complete pitches 10, 11, 12, and 13—putting a number of 5.13b to 5.14b pitches behind him. Not bad for a single day on the Dawn Wall. Here he shares details on his exciting night on El Cap:

Ambassador @adam.ondra is 13 pitches in on the Dawn wall and sending. Video: @pavelblazek

A video posted by Black Diamond Equipment (@blackdiamond) on

Update 2: Jorg Verhoeven claims second free ascent of Dihedral Wall


Jorg Verhoeven became the first to repeat the Dihedral Wall —a 26-pitch 5.14a—twelve years after Tommy Caldwell’s first free ascent. The 5.14a crux became the hardest pitch on El Cap after Caldwell’s ascent.

Verhoeven completed the Dihedral Wall in just five days. He was belayed by his wife Katha Saurwein and supported by Dustin Moore and Jon Glassberg. After sending The Nose (5.14a) in 2014, Louder Than Eleven (Glassberg’s media production company) released an impressive film documenting Verhoeven’s achievement. Expect more of the same in coming months!

Update 3: Pete Whittaker becomes first climber to ever all-free rope solo El Cap in a day

On Thursday, November 10th, Pete Whittaker became the first to climb the classic Freerider (5.12d, 37 pitches) as an all-free roped solo—in under a day.

Rope soloing is, in essence, the practice of belaying oneself. Check out this in-depth article from rope soloist Andy Kirkpatrick to learn all about the gear, technique, and mental fortitude required to be a successful rope soloist. Disclaimer: it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Whittaker climbed Freerider in 20 hours and six minutes. His time on the wall went unimpeded by other climbers—the ideal situation for a speed-climbing soloist. In an interview with UK Climbing, Whittaker noted,

I was glad there was no one there when I topped out, the whole idea was to do the wall by myself, and it felt good not to be interrupted.

Story 2: 14-year-old Laura Rogora climbs 5.14d

14-year-old Italian Laura Rogora has climbed Grandi Gesti, a 40-meter 9a (5.14d) route in Sperlonga, Italy. In doing so she becomes the first Italian female and the second youngest person on the planet to climb the grade (Adam Ondra and Ashima Shiraishi both climbed 9a at age 13).

The following video from Epic TV shows Rogora’s process in climbing the route:

But Rogora doesn’t just climb massive, incredibly difficult sport routes. She’s also the current Italian youth champion in both the lead and bouldering disciplines, and just finished competing at the Youth World Championships in Guangzhou, China.

It’s relatively rare to see a young climber with such well-rounded skills as Rogora. Her recent surge in popularity and renown has placed her in the ranks of Shiraishi and others who will carry the sport into the future. And considering the Olympics are going to play a huge role in said future, it will be fascinating to observe how the strongest kids of today improve and compete with each other in the years leading up to Japan in 2020.

Story 3: New “Precautionary Principle” could impose easier bans on climbing in National Parks

Meg Gallagher
Meg Gallagher climbing The Kind (V5), Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.

Last Wednesday The Access Fund announced details of the National Park Service’ (NPS) Director’s Order (DO) #100; a measure that could potentially make bans on rock climbing within National Parks significantly easier to impose.

If institutionalized, DO #100 would introduce a “Precautionary Principle” to NPS policy. The principle states the following:

“The Precautionary Principle requires that, when an activity raises plausible or probable threats of harm to park resources and/or human health, management should take anticipatory action even when there is uncertainty.  When such uncertainty exists, NPS managers will take actions that err on the side of caution to protect natural and cultural resources in accordance with section 7 of this Order.  Any decision made using the precautionary principle should take into account:  (1) the threat of harm to park resources or public health; (2) the level of scientific uncertainty; and (3) the preventive, precautionary action.”

To read the DO #100 document in its entirety, visit this page on nps.gov and scroll to the bottom for a download link.

Obviously, rock climbing is a bit of a gray area. While typically harmless, it could be viewed by park officials as one of the activities that raises “threats of harm” as described above. The language is ambiguous, which could lead to questionable enforcement of the policy.

The Access Fund points out that the Precautionary Principle could lead to a “ban first, ask questions later” type of practice, which could easily damage relations between climbers and the NPS. As the writer states, “If the NPS continues to restrict legitimate uses, they risk disenfranchising the climbing community while losing valuable National Park System supporters and partners.”

Check back in with the Access Fund on Friday for more updates. And if you want to do your part to protect climbing, join or donate to the Access Fund today.


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