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Alfredo Webber, Age 52, Free Solos 5.14b

The 52 year old Italian has made history by free soloing one of the most difficult pitches to date.

Italian rock climber Alfredo Webber has just free soloed Panem et Circenses at Muro di Pizarra near Arco, Italy. The route is graded 8c/5.14b, making this one of the most difficult ropeless climbs of all time. Webber is 52 years old.

Panem et Circenses is a 50-foot-long wall of slightly overhanging limestone. The climb is characterized by hyper-technical and delicate movements with tiny crimps and shallow sloping pockets. Webber climbed it with no rope and no spotters. His only protection were two bouldering pads.

Alfredo Webber is not a household name, nor is he a professional climber. He has spent his life working long days in a quarry, but has been dedicated to the craft of climbing for decades. This dedication has paid off for Webber later in life. In 2017, at the age of 48, he sent Thunder Ribes (9a/5.14d) at Massone in Arco, Italy.

After climbing Thunder Ribes, Webber told Planet Mountain: “Sending 9a at my age, apart from being a dream, is such an impossible thought. I grew up when 9a was a mystical grade, it seems like yesterday when I first saw the photo of Wolfgang Güllich climbing Action Directe. At the time those moves and those holds were simply superhuman.”

He continued: “You have to be consistent, climb on terrain as steep as this to get your body accustomed to this stamina trip … In practice, it’s a true inner journey, which for me it is fundamental. I evolve daily as a climber, and it’s a continuous discovery of novelties and friendship.”

Webber first sent Panem et Circenses in 2019. His recent free solo of the route was not a snap decision, but rather a well calculated process. He spent two years training physically and mentally for those “four minutes of pure magic.”

Video: Webber’s 2019 redpoint of Panem et Circenses.

This free solo ascent has made history as one of the most difficult ropeless pitches of all time, up there with Dave MacLeod’s 2008 solo of Darwin Dixit (8b+/5.14a) and Alex Huber’s 2012 solo of Kommunist (5.14a). Webber stands as a proud example that age and career need not be limiting factors on climbing performance; dedication and willpower will ultimately prevail.