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Yesterday Margo Hayes clipped the chains on La Rambla in Siurana, Spain, becoming the first woman to send 5.15a and making history.
Last year, Hayes, a 19-year-old from Boulder, Colorado, made it her goal to climb 14 5.14s to “learn as much about the grade as she could.” She not only succeeded in ticking 14 routes 5.14a and harder, but she sent her first and second 5.14c’s, Pure Imagination in the Red River Gorge and The Crew, a Rifle, Colorado, testpiece. She also made the first female ascent of Bad Girls Club, her first 5.14d. She had only been in Siurana for a week when she added La Rambla to her impressive tick list.
“I conscientiously work on being positive in life,” Hayes told Climbing, in an interview for her 2016 Golden Piton Award win. “When I am positive, I’m more productive and open-minded, and that carries over into climbing.”
While Hayes is the first female to send a confirmed 5.15a, Ashima Shiraishi and Spanish climber Josune Bereziartu have come close, each sending routes graded 5.14d/5.15a. Bereziartu claimed the second ascent of Bimbaluna at St. Loup, Switzerland, in 2005. At just 13 years old, Shiraishi sent Ciudad de Dios in Santa Linya, Spain, in March 2015. Shiraishi was the first to climb Ciudad de Dios after a hold broke, and there was speculation that the route had become 5.15a, but future ascensionists disagreed with the upgrade.
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Alexander Huber established La Rambla Original (5.14c) in 1994. While working a longer version of the route, a hold broke near the top. Huber lowered the anchors and made the first ascent of the shortened lines. Ramón Julián Puigblanque extended the climb and made the first ascent of what is now called La Rambla (5.15a) nine years later. Since then, many of the world’s strongest climbers have added La Rambla to their tick lists, including Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra (on his fifth attempt), Alex Megos (on his second attempt), and most recently, Boulder, Colorado, native Matty Hong. Hong sent La Rambla, his second 5.15a, the day before Hayes made the first female ascent. Both Hayes and Hong were awarded Climbing’s 2016 Golden Piton Award for sport climbing for their impressively long and diverse 5.14 tick lists last year.