Sasha DiGiulian has opened Rolihlahla (5.14c), which is now considered the hardest route at Waterfall Boven--one of South Africa's premier sport climbing destinations. Rolihlahla, which was dubbed the Overlord Project and bolted in 2008 by South African strongman Andrew Pedley, traverses a gorgeous and seemingly blank swath of orange sandstone.
"The route is one of the most spectacular lines I have ever climbed," DiGiulian recently wrote in an e-mail to Rock and Ice. "It is also my first time doing a first ascent of a route and it was a fun experience to realize that something was possible."
DiGiulian mentions that the route houses a variety of climbing. "The climb includes crack climbing, big falls, and some very technical portions that required my full commitment," she says. "In comparison to other routes that I have done, I am comfortable with considering the route around 8c+ [5.14c].
DiGiulian also notes that this may be the hardest first ascent of a sport climb achieved by a female climber. Writing on her 8a.nu scorecard, she elaborates: "As far as I know, and I can of course be mistaken, this is the hardest ever sport climbing first ascent by a woman. Beth Rodden’s 2008 traditional test piece Meltdown in Yosemite, which has yet to see a repeat is called ~8c+ [5.14c], but I don’t know if Rodden herself ever suggested a grade."
As for calling the route Rolihlahla, DiGiulian explains that this is the middle name of South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela, and also colloqiually means troublemaker.