Michaela Kiersch, 22, adds to an amazing week in climbing with her ascent of Twenty Four Karats (5.14c)
at the Gold Coast, Red River Gorge, Kentucky. She came close to sending the route on her first day on the climb, weeks ago, but it would take her twenty
attempts and a long mental battle before she finally clipped the chains.
“Twenty Four Karats was a little frustrating for me because it fit my style so well,” she tells Rock and Ice. “I one hung it the first
day I got on it! From there, I really just struggled to close on it.”
Kiersch says she “dry-fired” off the climb three times in a row. “Sometimes it was a foot pop, sometimes it was too cold and I numbed out. Sometimes I
was too pumped or too weak. Basically, I epic-ed on this thing!”
Jonathan Siegrist, who established Twenty Four Karats in November 2010, described it as “savage and brilliant” on his blog. “There is essentially no resting until you reach the final bolt,” he wrote. “Finishing this climb was not easy, and even
on redpoint I had to fight for it.” Siegrist suggest 5.14c for difficulty, and wrote that, for him, it felt “solid” for the grade. He also called it
one of his favorite routes that he’s ever done.
Kiersch worked the route over four or five weekends, with up to five attempts on a given day. “Maybe 20 tries?” she says. “Twenty Four Karats is relatively short—it's a five-bolt sprint on bad crimps and monos—so each attempt takes no more than a few minutes.”
In the end, “It wasn't a physical barrier but mental for me,” she says. “I knew that I had the strength and could send it, but I let small things get to
me and throw me off (literally).”
When she was able to relax for a send go this weekend, she sent the rig.
“I need to remember that sometimes it's better to just go with the flow rather than pressuring myself to perform,” she says. “Every route is a learning
experience in its own way, and I am continuously improving on my climbing and mentality.”
She adds: “As for the recent storm of amazing female accomplishments, how cool! From young Italian Laura [Rogora] to Margo [Hayes] and Nina [Williams],
women around the world have been crushing. I think that the best part of it all is that these climbs are not only impressive for women, but for anyone.
We can focus on the people who accomplished them more than their gender, and just celebrate how far strength, resilience, and tenacity can take you.”
Kiersch spends most of her weekends in the Red River Gorge, despite the seven-hour drive from her hometown of Chicago. She has also climbed Lucifer (5.14c), Thanatopsis (5.14b) and Pure Imagination (5.14c) in one weekend—her
first 5.14b and first 5.14c ascents—and The Golden Ticket (5.14c), among many others. Twenty Four Karats is Kiersch's fourth 5.14c ascent.
Watch Michaela Kiersch & The Golden Ticket (5.14c):
Snapshot: Michaela Kiersch - The Chicago Hustle
Michaela Kiersch Sends Golden Ticket (5.14c), Red River Gorge
Michaela Kiersch Sends Pure Imagination (5.14c)