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Last week, 27-year-old Italian climber Stefano Ghisolfi made the first ascent of Erebor (9b/+ or 5.15b/c) in Arco, Italy. Erebor is not only the first route that Ghisolfi ever bolted, but it is also now the most difficult line in his home country.
“It took me a lot of time, but I finally did it,” Ghisolfi wrote on Instagram. “Erebor is no more a project and became reality last Friday, with super cold weather and numb fingers I was able to climb the very first route I bolted in my life!”
During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, Ghisolfi took up equipping routes with seasoned Italian climber and developer Seve Scassa. Ghisolfi bolted Erebor and began trying it in June 2020, and “immediately realized it was nearly impossible.” He made serious attempts on the route throughout the year, but wasn’t able to clip the chains until seven months after he began work on it.
Video: Ghisolfi working Erebor earlier in the season. Note that English subtitles are only available via auto-translate, so take them with a grain of salt.
“I’m proud to have made a contribution in my small way!” Ghisolfi’s development mentor Seve Scassa wrote on Instagram. “I put my Hilti [drill] in your hand, it took you little to learn and you bolted a monster!”
Ghisolfi is among the strongest sport climbers in the game, having previously redpointed Perfecto Mundo and Change, both routes graded 5.15c (9b+). He was the fourth climber ever to climb the grade. Watch a short film and accompanying video series about Ghisolfie’s journey to send Change.
Ghisolfi wrote of Erebor: “In my opinion I never climbed in Italy something as hard as this route, but I still think it doesn’t reach the full 9b+ comparing it to Change or Perfecto Mundo. Therefore my grade suggestion is 9b/+ that makes it the hardest route in Italy and my proudest first ascent, and I’m looking forward to someone coming and repeating it soon!”
However, the job is not completely over for Ghisolfi. Erebor is the “easier” variation of a much more difficult route he bolted. With time and effort, this harder variation may very well become one of the most difficult routes in the world.