On May 30, 19-year-old Italian climber Laura Rogora sent Pure Dreaming Plus (5.15a/9a+), making her the fifth woman ever to climb 5.15. Just outside of Arco, Italy, Pure Dreaming Plus is a steep and pumpy 50-meter route that climbs out of a limestone cave. The first crux is a boulder problem 15 moves off the ground, while the second crux comes after about 100 moves. Adam Ondra completed the first ascent of the line in 2018, and Rogora's redpoint marks the route's first repeat. She made quick work of the line, her first of the grade, in the two weeks since Italy lifted strict COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and allowed athletes to climb outside once again.
Rogora has made a name for herself as one of the most prodigious sport and competition climbers in the world. She has climbed multiple outdoor routes graded 5.14d/9a—the first when she was just 14—is a two-time World Youth Champion in bouldering, World Youth Champion in lead, European Champion in lead, and in 2019 qualified to represent Italy in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now scheduled for 2021).
Pure Dreaming Plus is a linkup of Pure Dreaming (5.14d/9a) and the initial bouldery section of the adjacent Underground (5.14d/9a). Last week, Rogora sent Pure Dreaming in just nine attempts.
“Pure dreaming (9a) is not a dream anymore!!” Rogora wrote on Instagram. “I guess it is time to dream bigger…”
Three days later, Rogora linked the extension of the route, completing the entirety of Pure Dreaming Plus and adding 5.15 to her resume.
“PURE DREAMING PLUS went down faster than I expected and yesterday I could clip the chain of my first 9a+!!” she wrote.
“Pure Dreaming Plus, 9a+,” wrote fellow Italian climber Stefano Ghisolfi, who filmed Rogora's ascent. “But this time I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about the world class achievement of [Laura Rogora], that just sent her hardest route in very few tries, making the second ascent after [Adam Ondra] himself.”
As Ghisolfi points out, Rogora chose to forego kneepads despite the route's critical upside-down kneebar rest.
Rogora joins the short list of climbers in the 5.15 club, and is the fifth woman ever to climb the grade. Her female predecessors are: Margo Hayes, who sent La Rambla (5.15a) in 2017; Anak Verhoeven, who made the first ascent of Sweet Neuf (5.15a) in 2017; Angela Eiter, who skipped 5.15a with her ascent of La Planta de Shiva (5.15b) in 2017; and Julia Chanourdie, who sent Super Crackinette (5.15a) earlier this year.
Rogora’s accomplishment is accentuated by the fact that Italy was on a strict COVID-19 lockdown for more than two months prior to her ascent. During that time, she was unable to climb outside at all, and also could not visit the gym for significant stretches. "One month without climbing is for sure the longest period since I started 12 years ago," she wrote on Instagram. Rogora climbed two 8c/5.14b routes as soon as she was able to return to rock—both on her second go. Then, just two week's later, she climbed her hardest route to date with Pure Dreaming Plus.