I’m not sure what it is about 2012, but there seems to be a definite trend of people both young and old excelling on routes in the 5.14 range that were once the purview of the sport’s elite. Whether this is just a factor of increased media exposure for these types of ascents, soft grades, people climbing smarter and harder these days or something else, I don’t know. The grade of a climb, much like the age of the person climbing, is just a number, but here are a few recent ascents of note from people not in their late teens or early twenties:
12-year-old Drew Ruana did the second 5.14a of his young climbing career back in May when he repeated Chemical Ali at Smith Rock, OR. You can see some footage of Ryan Palo on this route here.
Also notching his second 5.14a was 11-year-old Cameron Hörst. Hörst is out in Ten Sleep, WY where he clipped the chains on Galactic Emperor which you can get a taste of in this video of Alli Rainey on the route.
Bridging the gap between young and not as young is the mother-daughter team of Brooke Raboutou and Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou. They are spending the summer in Europe and 11-year-old Brooke notched another 5.13c while 49-year-old Robyn has done two 5.14a’s according to 8a.nu.
55-year-old Jean-Pierre Bouvier opened a problem called Fou Rire en aller-retour in Fontainebleau. The problem is actually a traverse right and then back left on a boulder that, when put together, is somewhere in the traverse 9A grade-range which, I guess, is somewhere in the 8C or V15 range for the climbing up variety of boulder problems.
And finally, 56-year-old Chuck Odette did the FA of Morphine at a new crag he’s developing in Idaho. On his 8a scorecard he comments that the route is, “an amazing climb, enduring, varied, powerful & fun“. At a potential grade of 5.14b, this would be Odette’s hardest route ever. Rock & Ice has some pictures from the area1 and this salient quote from Odette:
Odette redpointed his first 5.12 at age 34, his first 5.13 at 37, and first 5.14 at 44, and said that aging pushed him to develop better systems of training, preparation, and nutrition. “If climbers stay active and focused,” he says, “they can transcend the common misconception that with aging, physical performance levels tend to go down. Climbing is a sport that lends itself to continued growth with aging.”
- Which is actually on private property ↩