The first 5.15c in the world has finally been repeated: Stefano Ghisolfi has done the second ascent of Adam Ondra’s Change, in the Hanshelleren Cave, Flatanger, Norway, eight years after the first ascent, and confirmed the grade at 9b+ (5.15c).
Change is a behemoth of a route: 55 meters long and 185 moves (at least the way Ghisolfi climbed it.).
“I was very close to falling at the last dynamic move, a few meters before the top, but I somehow grabbed it and kept going,” Ghisolfi told Rock and Ice regarding his send. “It took me one hour and I ran out of chalk in my chalkbag at the end!”
The route can be broken down into two pitches (though the 5.15c grade comes from climbing them as a single mega-pitch). The first pitch is a 9a+/b (5.15a/b), while the second is a long 9a (5.14d). The “pitches” are separated by a mediocre rest.
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Ghisolfi spent a month in Flatanger beginning in early August, working the first pitch into submission and eventually sending it. He devised different beta for the crux than what Ondra used on the first ascent.
“There’s no way I could do Adam’s beta on the lower part, flexibility and dropknee aren’t my things,” Ghisolfi told Rock and Ice, “so for me works better the kneebar and the swing, a bit easier than the original beta.”
Ghisolfi Vs. Ondra’s Beta for the Crux of Change 5.15c
Toward the end of that first trip he began sussing out the moves on the second pitch, but ran out of time before he could attempt a full redpoint.
He returned to Norway just a few days ago to get back to business. He wrote on Instagram about his quick return to the project, “I don’t like to leave unfinished jobs.”
His send burn was touch-and-go at various spots, but he managed to hang on.
“It was an exhausting battle from the first crux, which I barely did, until the top” Ghisolfi said. “I fought hard on the second crux too, but climbed it smoothly, and then the real battle with the heat and a few wet (but fortunately good) holds.”
Change is Ghisolfi’s second 9b+. He made the second ascent of Perfecto Mundo—a route equipped by Chris Sharma and opened by Alex Megos—in December 2018. When he clipped the chains on that route, he became the fourth person to climb the grade, along with Ondra, Chris Sharma and Megos. Since then Jakob Schubert has joined their ranks, following his own ascent of Perfecto Mundo.
On UKClimbing, Ondra explained his thoughts on deciding to give Change the grade of 9b+ back in 2012:
The more I tried, the more the idea of 9b+ was buzzing in my head. The final decision was made two days before my ascent. My self-confidence was low down, the ascent a million miles way and I was playing with the idea that chances of doing this trip are dashed. As I though about it, it felt so much harder than any 9b’s I have done so far, I put so much time into it, additionally it fits my style quite well, I told myself that it was going to be too hard for a 9b…
While Change was Ondra’s crowning achievement in the Hanshelleren Cave when he established it, he went on to one up himself in 2017 by climbing Silence, the world’s first 9c (5.15d) (and until Alex Megos’ recent first ascent of Bibliographie, the only one).
In the years between Change and Silence, however, Ondra added several other hard lines to the cave, notably the 9b/+ (5.15b/c) Move. Séb Bouin redpointed that route after four years of effort in June 2019, the only repetition to date.