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Caldwell's Kryptonite: 5.14d?
Monday, Oct. 25, 1999

Tommy Caldwell's new sport route Kryptonite may well be the hardest in the United States, superceding Chris Sharma's Necessary Evil (5.14c). It took Caldwell 20 days of effort to achieve the first ascent of this new route, located in a limestone area dubbed the "Fortress of Solitude" in the Klinetop range near Rifle, Colorado.

Caldwell describes the climb as "100 feet long and overhangs about 40 feet. It has a couple of V9 boulder problems with hard climbing in between. Once you get into the meat of the route there are no good rests. The climbing gets harder as you go up with the crux at about the 80-foot point." The cave area itself is about 250 tall and 800 feet wide with obvious potential for vast amounts of hard sport climbing.

"I am not sure whether it is 5.14d because I have never climbed anything that hard before..."

"The route also is 100% natural," Caldwell said, "with no chipping or glue. In my mind it is the perfect sport climb with creative movement and interesting holds."

When asked about the unconfirmed difficulty, he replied "It is definitely the hardest route I have done. Necessary Evil took me about nine days and Kryptonite took me about 20. I am not sure whether it is 5.14d because I have never climbed anything that hard before."

"It's very exciting that he sent it," Nick Sagar, Tommy's partner in developing the area, said. "I was climbing on it as well and feel that it is every bit as hard as he says."

The 21-year-old Caldwell has had an impressive year, starting with his redpoint of Necessary Evil in Arizona's Virgin River Gorge last November. In May of this year, Caldwell showed he can place natural gear with the best of them when he became the first American to do a full redpoint ascent of El Capitan's Salathe Wall (Grade VI 5.13b) in Yosemite.

Matt Stanley, MountainZone.com Staff

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