There are really only two contenders for the hardest crack climb in the world: Nico Favresse’s The Recovery Drink, in Jossingford, Norway, which he established in 2013; and Beth Rodden’s Meltdown, in Yosemite, California, which she established in 2008. Both sat unrepeated in the year since, rebuffing all suitors. That is, until this past Sunday, August 5, when Daniel Jung scored the long-awaited and highly coveted second ascent of The Recovery Drink.
Jung, who hails from Siegen, Germany, posted news of his accomplishment on Instagram this evening: ““The ‘Recovery Drink’ is DONE!! What a beautiful line, what a nice challenge! I‘m extremely happy to have [sent] it finally on my very last day.” The “finally” is a reference not just to this trip but to Jung’s years-long battle with the climb; he was along with the Belgian Favresse and his brother Olivier Favresse on the first trip in 2012 during which the friends discovered the climb.
In addition to the second free ascent, Jung’s is also the first ever full redpoint ascent, as he placed every single piece of protection on lead—something that Favresse admittedly did not. Fred Moix confirmed for Rock and Ice that Jung placed all gear on lead. In a piece about his first ascent on Planetmountain.com back in 2013, Favresse wrote,”I sent the pitch placing gear on lead except for a few pieces in the easier sections which I had left in place to make it easier to clean the route after each try, because it’s very overhanging. So a slightly purer ascent could still be done.”
Located on the Profile Wall—where even the easiest routes tip the scale at 5.13+—The Recovery Drink tackles 115-feet of overhanging, energy-sucking rock and connects several different splitter cracks. Favresse wrote about his first time seeing the line, “Even though it looked way too futuristic, we were so motivated we decided to waste no time and check it out right away.” It took him two separate trips to finally complete the route.
When he did finally send it, Favresse declined to assign a grade, but called it the hardest crack he’d ever climbed and said it was harder than Cobra Crack, Sonnie Trotter’s 5.14b splitter finger crack in Squamish that was at one time itself a contender for the hardest crack in the world. This, plus the route’s refusal to yield to some of the world’s best trad climbers—notably the Brits Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker—suggest The Recovery Drink is in the 5.14c range, if not harder. In his feature “World’s Hardest Cracks,” from Rock and Ice issue 230 (November 2015), Tom Randall explains that he asked Favresse multiple times why he never proposed a grade. Favresse told Randall, “Why do we always need a grade? Somehow putting a grade on this route felt like it would reduce what this climb meant to me. So here, with this route is not a grade, but rather The Recovery Drink.”
With this ascent, Jung further solidifies his reputation as one of the best all-around climbers today. In addition to hard trad single pitch, he has also sent hard sport climbs such as La Rambla (9a+/5.15a), Siurana, Spain; The Elder Statesman (9a/5.14d), Frankenjura, Germany; and Jungle Speed (9a), a first ascent in Siurana.
Now that Jung can finally close the book on The Recovery Drink and devote his full energies towards other projects, it will be exciting to see what he does next!
Nico Favresse Making the First Ascent of The Recovery Drink in 2013