Hardest Female First Ascent? Laura Rogora Sends ‘Erebor’ 5.15b/c (9b/+) in Italy

On October 2, Laura Rogora redpointed “Erebor” 5.15b/c (9b/+) in Arco, Italy. It could be the most difficult sport climbing route ever climbed by a woman, and it’s the hardest one Italy has on offer. It was the Olympic climber’s second 5.15b+ and only the fifth female ascent of that climbing grade.

laura rogora on dreaming plus, 2020

Rogora works on ‘Pure Dreaming Plus’, circa 2020. Photo: L. Rogora

Rogora’s ascent, in context

Rogora became the second woman to ever climb 5.15b back in July 2020 with “Ali Hulk Sit Start Extension Total” in Rodellar, Spain.

Austrian Angela Eiter first broke through the 5.15b (9b) ceiling in late 2017 when she sent “La Planta de Shiva” in Villanueva del Rosario, Spain.

Only one other woman, Julia Chanourdie of France, joins Eiter and Rogora on the 5.15b podium. Chanourdie pocketed “Eagle 4” in Saint Léger, France in November 2020.

Eiter then returned to the fore in December 2020 with the first ascent — female or male — of “Madame Ching” in Tyrol, Austria.

But regardless of gender (or gender identity), sport climbing is lonely at the top. Only a handful of men have climbed above 5.15 (9a+), and only one or two routes in the world clock in at 5.15d (9c).

Stefano Ghisolfi, a fellow Italian and Olympian, is credited with developing “Erebor” (fans of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books will recognize as another name for the dragon’s lair, Lonely Mountain). Ghisolfi is also the only other climber to have redpointed “Erebor”, of course. As is customary, only those that cleanly ascend a route can weigh in on the grade assigned by its first ascensionist. If consensus says “Erebor” does, in fact, go at 5.15b/c (9b/+), Rogora’s just claimed the hardest ascent of any sport route by a female.

Laura Rogora climbing accomplishments, prospects

laura rogora on dreaming plus, 2020

Photo: Marco Iacono


Single-pitch sport climbing has more than its share of celebs, but few are as vehemently gale-force as the lithe and intense 20-year old Italian. Rogora’s redpoint on “Erebor” marks her fifth 5.15-range route within the calendar year.

The send comes just days after she put up the first-ever ascent of ‘Iron Man’ 5.14d (9a). And did we mention that she stands just 1.5m (4 ft 11 in) tall? The Olympian and three-time IFSC gold medalist took the competitive circuit by small-but-mighty storm in her mid-teens. At the age of 14, she sent her first 5.14d (9a) and enjoyed her first 5.13c (8a+) onsight in the same year.

So what’s next? According to Gripped, Ghisolfi is encouraging Rogora to push for “Bibliographie” 5.15c/d (9b+/c) — one of the world’s two hardest sport routes. If history is any indication, Laura Rogora will be clipping the chains before winter.

Check out the uncut footage of her epic ascent of “Erebor” below.

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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9 months ago

Side note: Bibliographie was rated 9c by Alex Megos, but nowadays consensus 9b+

8 months ago

Been watching Laura Ragora and others on the IFSC comps and liked the footage shared here. Thanks.