When Zaya Aldar and her sister Yesui entered the Virgin River Gorge early this morning, they did not understand why no one else was on the famous Necessary Evil (5.14c).
In February 2018, the historic route in this scenic area of Northern Arizona was by chance the scene of two exciting possibilities for the first women’s ascent. The route was bolted by Boone Speed in 1989 and offered over to the teenage Chris Sharma, who climbed it in 1997 at 15. Michaela Kiersch was the first woman to send it. Paige Claassen did the route two days later, in the 17th and 18th ascents.
Yesterday the route saw not just its third female ascent, but its first in a day, and the youngest, as the 13-year-old Zaya even dusted the crap out of Sharma.
With the sisters, who grew up bouldering in the national park of Gorkhi-Terelj, Mongolia, swapping burns, Zaya sent when she least expected—on a token try at the end of the day.
“Yesui kept telling me to hurry up,” she said, “because she was cold. I just went faster and faster. This is the coldest, windiest place I’ve ever been.”
“Cool,” says Sharma, from lockdown in Catalonia, Spain. “Congrats! That route is hard. Actually, it’s not as hard as being shut in with two toddlers.”
The two sisters (Yesui is 15) have been working nanny jobs for an American family living off the grid and were unaware of the stay-at-home strictures in place during the current pandemic.
“I thought it was awfully quiet,” says Zaya. “You Americans are always yelling.”
Zaya’s ascent, witnessed by two dog walkers and 13 dogs, was April 1.