On September 29, Italian climber Stefano Ghisolfi made the second ascent of Change (5.15c) in Flatanger, Norway. It was his second route of the grade, after completing Perfecto Mundo (5.15c) in 2018. The 27-year-old phenom projected Change during two trips to Flatanger over the course of a month. Despite the hot and humid conditions in Norway on Monday, Ghisolfi gave it his all and surprised himself when he redpointed the route.
“The battle is over, unexpectedly soon,” Ghisolfi wrote on Instagram. “A mental and physical fight that took me more than one month and two trips to Flatanger, it ended today with a bloodbath that lasted more than one hour of climbing to complete the 185 moves and 55m of Change.”
Adam Ondra made the first ascent of Change in 2012. It was the first route to receive the 9b+ [5.15c] grade. The line is long, wildly steep, and notoriously wet—when Ondra was projecting it as a 19-year-old, climbers visiting Flatanger reportedly witnessed him trying to dry wet holds with toilet paper. Ghisolfi worked out his on beta for the line. The EpicTV Italia video below shows a side-by-side comparison of Ondra and Ghisolfi on the crux at 3:37. (Turn on English captions, though the automatic translation is not great.)
Fellow climber Henning Wang was in the Flatanger cave the day of Ghisolfi’s ascent, and described the conditions as less than ideal: “Today was a warm and windless day in the cave. The sudden change in temperature made the rock humid, and holds that were dry just a few days ago were suddenly seeping. In the sun the rock was a bit better, but it was boiling hot, so when Stefano then went for his attempt I didn't really think he had much of a chance.”
Ghisolfi maintained his composure and climbed smoothly through the initial crux boulder problem and on to the “easier” terrain above as a crowd gathered below to spectate. Though he was through the crux, in several places the moves seemed desperate and as though he might blow off at any moment.
“Close to the top he climbed into some sidepulls and suddenly seemed unsure of himself, having climbed into something that didn't look possible to reverse, the crowd was buzzing,” Wang wrote. “But then he composed himself and made a full on dyno sideways. The cave went completely silent.”
Not long after, Ghisolfi clipped the chains of Change, and uproarious cheers bellowed out of the Flatanger cave.
“I feel relieved, tired, and happy, and I enjoyed everything it came with this amazing (and frustrating) journey,” Ghisolfi wrote. “Thanks to Sara as always, to all the people who took part in this process, and to all the people who cheered me up today during the endless climb.”