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The world's hardest trad climbs
OffLine 8a.nu
  2019-06-12 00:00:00    
99 boulders has published another great article listing 44 trad routes in the world from 8b+ to 8c+. There is also some ethical thoughts and some "grey zone" ascents have been included. But in in order to make the list the climbing must be protected by removable gear (placed on lead).

The first 8b+ in the world, not including grey zones, is The Nose put up by Lynn Hill although she said it was just 8a in 1990. There are five 8c+' listed:

Blackbeard's Tears - Ethan Pringle
Meltdown - Beth Rodden, Carlo Traversi
Pura Pura - Tom Randall
Recovery Drink - Nico Favresse, Daniel Jung
Rhapsody - Dave MacLeod, Sonnie Trotter, Steve McClure, James Pearson, Jacopo Larcher

Jacopo Larcher's recent Tribe was not given a grade but it should be at least 8c+ as he thinks it is his hardest ever. In regards, Rhapsody there are some controversies and also the grade has been questioned. The FA-ionist did place the gear on lead but then he downclimbed it 25 meters to the start. On the actual sent he did not place any gear. It has further more been called an eliminate.

The diagram shows the ones having done most 8b+ and harder with Jacopo Larcher and Sonnie Trotter on top. Noteworthy is that Barbara Zangerl is up there tied #7. Including also Beth Rodden's Meltodown, it is obvious that the best female is almost equal to the male. It just might be that trad climbing is unique when it comes to gender equality of all the thousand sports out there? In the record book, Alex Megos flash of The Path 8b+ R should be mentioned.

Comparing trad grades to sport grades, it is quite obvious that sport grades are at least one grade softer. Almost all of the trad experts have, relatively fast, done harder grades in sport.
Click to Enlarge Picture
OffLine pbla4024
  2019-06-12 14:58:15    
Gérome Pouvreau did Rhapsody in 2018.
And Favresse did Recovery Drink on pre-placed gear IIRC.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2019-06-12 17:30:39    
"The first 8b+ in the world, not including grey zones, is The Nose put up by Lynn Hill although she said it was just 8a in 1990"

So the nose is a trad climb now? It has a huge number of fixed nuts, pitons, and bolts all over it, but specifically on the two hardest pitches (the great roof - a number of fixed nuts, pitons and cams), and the changing corners (several bolts). Under your rules, it's a mixed climb not a trad climb, remember?
OffLine The Whistleblower 6
  2019-06-12 19:08:03    
@Jens You forgot to include the part of the definition of ”trad climbing” that doesn’t fit your agenda. Let me do that for you: ”[...] the majority of the difficult climbing is protected by removable gear (placed on lead).”
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-12 20:52:34    
The post is based on the boulder99 article. It seems they did not follow the rule of "only pre-placed gear". I will edit the post.

Personally I think it is much easier to say that all gear should be placed on gear...otherwise we will just end up in grey zones as we can see in the examples above.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2019-06-12 21:44:25    
I can't wait for the stupid mixed climbing revolution to be over in Yosemite. Famous mixed climbers Royal Robbins and Warren Harding started this whole mixed climbing game, and eventually it was passed down to Lynn Hill, Tommy Caldwell and even Adam Ondra. All these mixed climbers ventured up the mixed big walls of Yosemite, clipping rock solid pitons and bolts, so lame! If only those bolt clipping mixed climbers like Lynn Hill knew that some day, a REAL trad climber (Carlo Traversi), will rapell into Meltdown, toprope it into submission off two shiny anchor bolts, and then finally do a REAL trad ascent for once. If only!
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-12 21:51:07    
Do you think the Nose is a trad climb?

" It has a huge number of fixed nuts, pitons, and bolts all over it, but specifically on the two hardest pitches (the great roof - a number of fixed nuts, pitons and cams), and the changing corners (several bolts)."
OffLine Guido Princess
  2019-06-12 22:57:19    
Duh... of course! The Nose is the most famous trad climb in the world. Any definition of trad climbing that makes the Nose not a trad climb is, using your words, a "dead wrong" definition!

In other words, if your trad climbing definition makes the Nose not a trad climb, it doesn't mean that we need to change the Nose, it means you need to change your definition.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-12 23:03:38    
So you think a route that has several bolts is still a trad climb?

It would be interesting to understand how a climb goes from trad to a sport climb based on your definition?
OffLine Guido Princess
  2019-06-12 23:14:50    
That article actually has a pretty good discussion on that very question. From the article, a trad route is a route "on which the majority of the difficult climbing is protected by removable gear (placed on lead)." That seems like a great definition that keeps most famous trad climbs as trad.

So something like
1. Mostly gear with an occiasional fixed nut, piton or bolt - trad. This is what most multipitch trad routes are like, and calling these not trad climbs is just silly and "dead wrong".
2. Half and half bolts and gear - would depend on the route. if the hard climbing is on gear, I would say trad. if the easy climbing is on gear, mixed
3. Mostly bolts with a few gear placements - mixed.
4. All pitons - definitely trad. Pitons are sketchy!
OffLine pbla4024
  2019-06-12 23:34:51    
The Nose is in fact an aid route.p
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-12 23:59:00    
I do not think the community would agree that the world’s hardest trad route could have two bolts protecting the 9a crux.

I understand that the original definition was based on placing gear on lead instead of rappelling down. I also understand that once talking about multi-pitches it would be ok to call them traditional as they were opened ground up.

However, when we are talking about the world’s hardest trad routes we can not include fixed gear that can not be removed.
OffLine Mark Nauser
  2019-06-13 08:18:03    
That's because you still don't understand that the difference between trad and sport is not in difficulty, but in knowledge. We've explained it to you many times, but apparently you refuse to understand.

Trad climb is a climb that requires additional knowledge on protection placement, careful evaluation of in-situ gear and advanced methods of anchor setup. Sport climb is a climb where all protection is fixed and bolts&anchors are all mostly set up and can be (mostly) relied on. Mixed climb is a climb on mixed (rock&snow) terrain. Difficulty has nothing to do with this characterisation.

If you'd want to be precise, you'd say that Lynn Hill did a trad ascent of the Nose using preplaced in-situ gear. But sadly, you don't want to be precise. In fact, I doubt anyone understands what do you even want? Make up some new words?
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-13 09:04:22    
Do you think the hardest trad route in the world could be a climb where the 9a crux is protected by bolts?
OffLine Mark Nauser
  2019-06-13 09:23:15    
Read my answer above again :).

Do you think that a route that uses one or more in-situ pitons is not a trad route?
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-13 09:33:55    
I understand that the original meaning of trad routes but when it comes to the world's hardest we have to use a more strict definition.

Any hard core trad climber understands that they can not use the driller and hammer in two bolts and later claim such route to be the world's first 9a trad route.
OffLine Sebastian Peace
  2019-06-13 10:09:04    
Jens, maybe do something like the great grade debate. Get all the mentioned climbers (+ maybe others) into a video call and record it or do a livestream/podcast (youtube/twitch/etc.). Or (even better, tho more expensive) do an offline event sponsored by some climbing companies. Let them decide for you.
OffLine Mark Nauser
  2019-06-13 12:26:46    
More strict definition is not necessary. What is necessary is PRECISION. When reporting an ascent, one should be as precise as possible and tell all the factors that may have an influence on the ethics of the ascent.

If you theoretical climber would protect the crux of otherwise trad route with two bolts, he should state so and describe the reasons for this decision. He could say he made an ascent of a route using both trad gear and pre-placed protection using bolts. Possible repeaters would then know that they require a knowledge of trad techniques to repeat the route. This is in fact the main intention of trad/sport route characterisation.

And responsible media should be interested in providing accurate, correct and precise news, not in chasing "best/hardest" comparison lists and in simplification/dumbing down of facts.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-13 12:57:43    
Media is always interested in record grades and this is the same for most climbers.

We have defined onsight, flash and redpoint instead of with a exact precision describe any ascent. I do think all top trad climbers agree that they would not like to include a route with a couple of bolts in the all time hardest trad routes.
OffLine Kenny Walker
  2019-06-14 02:52:50    
Who says Dave downclimbed “25 metres” on Rhapsody? Ridiculous. That’s like the entire height of Dumbarton Rock!
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2019-06-14 08:49:32    
Steve McClure has said that.
OffLine JLH
  2019-06-15 10:14:00    
One ascent missing on the list:
Jernej Kruder did green point ascent of Umazana igra (Dirty game) in Kotečnik, Slovenia (article and video).

Also, I find the title 'hardest trad climbs' misleading, it's only about hardest part of a climb, which may be few meters of well protected climbing (easy to place gear). Regarding this, I believe Dawn wall is the hardest and Nose most impressive from historical point of view.
Also, grades sometimes does not express (consensus) difficulty ;) It's probably only small fingers that make Nose 8a for Hill and (ungraded) Meltdown probably the same or a bit harder for Beth.