Heather Weidner Sends China Doll (5.14a R) on Gear

Heather Weidner sends China Doll (5.14a R) in Dream Canyon, Colorado and becomes fourth woman in history to climb 5.14 on gear.

Member Exclusive

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great benefits.


Already a member?

Sign In

Heather Weidner makes history with her free ascent of China Doll (5.14a R) in Dream Canyon, Colorado. After a yearlong battle, Weidner, 36, sent the route and became the fourth woman in history to climb 5.14 on gear.

“Excited beyond belief to have sent China Doll, 14a R trad. Thanks to [Molly Mitchell], [Chris Weidner] and everyone else that believed in me
more than I believed in myself … It feels like a dream,” she posted on Instagram.

According to Weidner, the route has seen less than 10 ascents. Hers, which is the first female ascent, places her among the ranks of Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden
and Barbara Zangerl as the only four women to have climbed 5.14 on gear. Moreover, Weidner’s achievement is the fifth 5.14 trad ascent ever completed
by a woman.

Lynn Hill was the first female climber to break this barrier with her historic free ascent of the Nose (5.14) on El Cap, Yosemite in 1993 and
again, faster and in better style, in 1994.

Beth Rodden freed the Nose with Tommy Caldwell in 2005, each led half of the pitches. In 2008, Rodden, 28 at the time, returned to Yosemite and
made the first ascent of Meltdown (5.14c) in the Lower Merced River Canyon. She was the first woman to establish a 5.14 trad climb and her
testpiece has yet to be repeated.

“5.14 is freakin’ hard. Meltdown was not just trying physically, but mentally because it took me over 40 days, absolutely the longest I’ve
ever spent on a single route,” Rodden told Rock and Ice for a What I Learned article.
“After sending a project I feel relief. There’s joy, but mostly relief.”

Barbara Zangerl became the third woman to climb 5.14 on gear when she sent the spicy trad route Prinzip Hoffnung (5.14a), “the Principle of Hope,” in her backyard of Bürser Platte, Austria.
Zangerl, 25 at the time, redpointed the route in March 2014 for its third ascent.

A photo of Weidner after her ascent shows how overcome with emotion she was following her ascent.

“That moment of eternal bliss when you know you’ve made history and accomplished something you never thought was possible,” she captioned the photo. “Psyched
beyond belief to be able to have achieved my proudest ascent to date as a climber.”

Louder Than Eleven documented Weidner’s journey for a feature-length film.

Watch Matt Segal on the second ascent of China Doll:

Related Articles

VIDEO: Barbara Zangerl Sends Prinzip Hoffnung (5.14a)

Barbara Zangerl Sends the Spicy Trad Pitch Prinzip Hoffnung (5.14a)

Beth Rodden: What I Learned