Third Ascent of One of the World’s Hardest Trad Routes

First ascents remain the ultimate achievement for many climbers: the chance to create a new line through the rock and name it yourself.

But repeating a route gives it — and the sport — deeper meaning and context, like a new version of a classic song.

And that’s exactly the case with Jacobo Larcher’s third ascent of a daunting Beth Rodden trad route in Yosemite Valley. After sending the route this week — an epic 8c+, 21-metre crack called “Meltdown” — Larcher wrote a tribute to Rodden’s achievement and what it means to follow in her finger jams.

“There are many hard trad climbs around the world, but very few have become iconic,” wrote the Italian climber who’s become well-known for sending hard routes on gear. “For me, ‘Meltdown’ was definitely one of those.”


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Una publicación compartida por Jacopo Larcher (@jacopolarcher)

One of climbing’s historic routes

As Larcher relates in the post, Rodden’s first ascent remained unrepeated for 10 years until Carlo Traversi managed the first repeat in 2018. That finally dispelled the myth (or excuse) that the route’s perilously thin cracks just wouldn’t work for thick-fingered climbers.

In a 2019 Black Diamond video about Traversi’s ascent, he didn’t mince words about his respect for the route and the woman who created it.

“Beth’s achievement in establishing Meltdown is one of the single most impressive achievements in rock climbing, in my opinion,” Traversi said. “It’s a really specific style. It’s not easy to train for and it takes a lot of commitment to do it…it’s also scary over gear.”

Located in Yosemite’s Cascade Creek, Rodden sent “Meltdown” on Valentine’s Day 2008. It was featured in Dosage V. That led to many of the world’s best climbers attempting the route, which was first bolted and tried by the legendary Ron Kauk.

Mysterious aura

It had a big impact on Larcher, who remembers watching the send and thinking that the route “had this mysterious aura”.

“The route just looked so beautiful, yet completely desperate to me,” Larcher wrote on Instagram. “Something unthinkable for me to consider climbing, at the time…Some years later, when I started to get more and more into this aspect of climbing, I began to realize that her achievement was ahead of its time.”

Larcher first attempted Meltdown in 2016. He spent at least two days piecing together the segments and moves. When he returned this month, Larcher also brushed the holds (to increase friction) and spent about seven days working out his sequence, he wrote. He sent it in trad style, placing all his gear on lead.

You can catch a video of Larcher’s ascent in a documentary coming out next year called “How Hard Is Hard?”, according to Or catch him laybacking on El Cap in the Black Diamond doc below.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.