America’s Best 5.14’s Revealed

posted by dpm on 12/13/2013

Jonathan Siegrist has spearheaded the daunting task of determining the top five 5.14 routes in the good ol’ USA and the results are in. If there is one American suited for the job, it’s likely Siegrist who has spent the past few years traveling the US with his trusty four-legged companion Zeke in search of America’s best, and hardest, routes. Throughout his travels, he’s ticked off dozens of classic 5.14’s in famous areas like Smith Rock, Oregon and the Red River Gorge, but he’s also taken the time to seek out hidden gems like the solitary Sarchasm (5.14a) beneath Long’s Peak, Colorado.

Zeke Siegrist has laid in the dirt beneath more 5.14's than you can shake a stick at. Photo: Zeke's Facebook

This past fall, Jonathan rounded out his resume by ticking off a few classic 5.14’s at the New River Gorge, West Virginia, one of the last world-class American crags that had eluded him. With a few more solid gold sends under his belt he began to wonder, “which one is actually the best?” In a blog post published yesterday, Siegrist outlined his method for determining the winner(s). His first challenge was to determine what, exactly, defines a “classic?” He writes:

“What does it take to be a true classic? Is classic merely a creation of consensus? Can time only tell? Is there a possible formula - a list of characteristics required to be deemed a classic - or is it simply a feeling that you have while climbing, something visceral but not quantifiable?”

Jonathan goes on to explain his method for determining not only how to define a classic 5.14, but also which top-shelf American rigs made the cut. He asked 15 of America’s best climbers, and one B-lister (myself), to share their thoughts on what makes a classic 5.14 and which ones, in their opinion, are the best in the country. The answers came in from seasoned pros and, using some sort of complex and top-secret algorithm, Siegrist analyzed the data and proclaimed, “Without further ado, here it is. According to 16 pros, these are the very best 5.14s in the country. The absolute mega classics....

First Place (tie):

To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a), Smith Rock Oregon

Golden (5.14b), Cathedral, Utah

Remainder in Top Five:

China Beach (5.14b), Rumney, New Hampshire

Grand Ol’ Opry (5.14b), Monastary, Colorado

The Bleeding (5.14b), Mill Creek, Utah

Jonathan Siegrist on his #1 pick: Grand Ol' Opry at the Monastary, Colorado. Photo: Jstarinorbit

Jonathan goes on to list all the runner-ups, as well as his hard data lists from pros like Tommy Caldwell, Joe Kinder, Alex Honnold, Beth Rodden, Ethan Pringle and others. He also takes it a step further and details which US states have the most classic 5.14’s and which rock type most frequently harbors the true classics. It’s a blog post worth reading. Check it out at Jstarinorbit.com.

What do you think? Is this list the final say or is it totally bogus? Chime in on some routes that got left out. What do you think is requisite for “classic” status?