5.14a at age 10

posted by dpm on 03/30/2012


Is it April Fool’s Day already? Yesterday I was climbing at the Red River Gorge’s Darkside crag. Little did I know that a few hundred yards away, on a wall I could see, 10-year-old Brooke Raboutou was sending the 5.14a God’s Own Stone to become the youngest person ever to have climbed the grade. At least that’s what I would have thought, had I known. Instead I heard about her awesome ascent from some nice folks in Colorado that keep me informed via the internet which seems to be more speedy and reliable than actual geo-location. The joke is on me this time…but the story gets even more bizarre.

Brooke after the send. Photo: Team ABC blog

Brooke is at the Red River Gorge, Kentucky enjoying spring break with the rest of the ABC team from Boulder, Colorado. You may remember them from their impressive tear through Hueco on their Thanksgiving break last fall. According to Jackie Hueftle, writing on their ABC blog, “Brooke’s ascent (of God’s Own Stone) took 5 tries. On her first day, Wednesday, it was quite hot and Brooke went up the route to figure out all the moves and then gave two redpoint burns. On Thursday she tried the route cold, fell, came down, rested, and then sent next go.”

God’s Own Stone didn’t seem to give Brooke much trouble but rest-assured it’s a hard route. The Gold Coast wall is about 20 degrees overhanging with small crimps and pockets throughout its 60-foot duration. Aside from some 5.13d murmurings from beefcakes like Jimmy Webb, who also just sent the route, the climb is regarded as 5.14a and has held its grade since its first ascent in 2003.

Exiting the crux of God's Own Stone. Photo: Team ABC blog

Brooke’s ascent set all kinds of new records: youngest female to climb 5.14, youngest American to climb 5.14, and youngest human to climb 5.14. The previous youngest person to climb the grade was none other than Adam Ondra who sent the ironically named Baby Basher (5.14a) in 2004 at the age of 11. That ‘youngest person’ record stood for eight years (though it was matched by at least one other person: Brooke's brother Shawn).      

Now here’s where the story takes an interesting twist. By only a few hours, Brooke never actually got to claim the ‘youngest human to climb 5.14’ title. Due only to the fact that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, 10-year-old Tito Traversa of Italy beat her to the punch by sending his project Sarsifal (5.14a) in Tetto di Sarre, Italy. In a single day, an eight year record was broken by two extremely talented young climbers. For now, Tito is the youngest person to climb 5.14. He is, after all, a whole two weeks younger than Brooke!

We’ll likely be hearing more from the ABC climbers as there is still some time left in their Red River Trip. Keep an eye on the ABC blog for frequent updates. Congrats to Brooke and Tito! 

Tito Traversa on Sarsifal (5.14a). Last year, we reported Tito's ascent of the first part of Sarsifal (5.13d). His ascent this year tacked on a more difficult exit and extension for the full line at 5.14a. Click the image for Tito climbing the first part of Sarsifal. 

Read a report from Jackie Hueftle about Brooke and Tito from last summer including her quote: "Brooke owns the female youngest/hardest record and so far is just behind Tito on the overall youngest/hardest scale. It will be interesting to see which of them hits the big 8b+ first."