Today's video is a in depth look into Heather Weidner and her biggest climbing struggle yet. The infamously hard trad route "China Doll" is rated 5.14a R (8b+) and in 2016 had never been climbed by a female and by men only a handful of times.
Watch the full film below courtesy of Louder Than Eleven films. More about the climb, Heather Weidner, and the history - below the video.
When Heather Weidner climbed "China Doll", she became only the fourth Woman to have ever climbed 5.14 trad. Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden and Babsi Zangerl were the others. Since then Molly Mitchell has also climbed this route placing all gear on lead in 2019. Nadine Wallner, Maddy Cope also climbed 5.14 routes (both R's too).
"China Doll" is a climb that has evolved many times since it's first ascent. It was originally put up in 1981 by Marc Hirt and Kyle Copeland as an aid route going at 5.8 A3+. Later the first section was sent "free" without aid at 5.11. The long thin crack of the middle wasn't climbed "free" until it was bolted and climbed in 1996 by Bob Horan. Those two pitches were then climbed together as a trad route - clipping the chains at the second pitch - though there was more climbable rock above that still hadn't been climbed as trad "free" or with bolts
While climbing is constantly evolving in style and ethics, there are always people who will try to do things in the "purest" style. In 2010 Mike Patz decided to string together not just the first two pitches, but the full cliff from floor to top out. He worked the route and eventually climbed it clean all in one go - placing gear on the lead.
For more climbing videos for quarantine
- Pete Whittaker climbing "Recovery Drink" 5.14d crack
- Watch Reel Rock 14 online now
- Pretty Strong starring and made by an all female team
or read the best home climbing training equipment guide to survive lockdown
For those wondering, the R rating means there is either a big runout (a section where it's not possible to place gear) above gear or a section with very bad gear placement where a fall would mean the gear would probably rip out. It's similar to an X rating where there is a serious potential for a ground fall because there isn't gear for the first part, or a large section of no gear, or very bad gear. This video is a great example of what you'd give an X rating.
Heather Weidner Talks About Filming "China Doll"
Heather also wrote a really good article on the filming process and her own emotional process going from before the climb to well after. It's definitely a good read if you enjoyed the film.