Ghisolfi Claims ‘Excalibur,’ Suggests It’s Now Italy’s Hardest Route

After prolonged anticipation among rock climbing devotees and fanboys, Stefano Ghisolfi has pried the sword from the stone.

Ghisolfi announced that Excalibur, a brutal crimp line on wildly steep Italian limestone near Arco, yielded to his efforts Sunday. Conjecture among Ghisolfi, Adam Ondra, and Jakob Schubert held that the route consisted of an 8C boulder problem that guarded a finish around 9b. Ghisolfi’s proposed grade posts no arguments with that theory: Excalibur clocks in at 9b+, or 5.15c.

More juicily, the rising sport climbing star posited it as the country’s new hardest route.

“Hard to imagine a more perfect line than this, I have to admit the process has been extremely difficult, from the first time on it figuring out the beta and thinking it was impossible, to the send go, when I felt solid and confident,” Ghisolfi wrote on Instagram. “I’m also confident to propose 9b+ as [a] grade. This time, I have no doubt about it, and for sure it is the hardest of all my first ascents, and probably the hardest route in Italy now!”


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Erebor previously held the consensus title as the hardest climb in Italy. At 9b/+, it resisted efforts from many of the world’s best climbers for years and was the site of the hardest redpoint by a woman, which Laura Rogora secured in 2021.

To Ghisolfi’s credit, Excalibur looks about as punishing as a rock climb gets. One installment of the Italian’s YouTube series zeroes in on the holds of the world’s hardest climbs. He examines each weakness in the unforgiving, 40˚ overhang of Excalibur.

The verdict? Not much purchase up there.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.