The world’s first Olympic Gold medalist for climbing is out on real rock! Janja is now attempting “La Dura Dura”, a historic 9b+ / 5.15c route bolted by Chris Sharma and first sent by Adam Ondra in 2013/
Janja first tried the route back in November of 2021 in a short four day trip. In the same trip she also casually onsighted two 8c routes, becoming the first Woman to ever onsight the grade. Now, she’s back in Oliana and trying “La Dura Dura”, saying in a recent insta post: “Stupid of me to think La Dura Dura is just hard when obviously it’s hard hard“.
Back then it was also being projected by Hamish McArthur, a young British comp climber with big aspirations. He’d managed to make big links but no send. Janja seems to have done all of the individual moves but is working on linking them. It’s a 50 meter route, meaning incredible endurance on terrible crimps. It has some really big reaches that will probably mean extra footwork for Janja.
From what we know, Janja really doesn’t spend much time climbing outdoors. She’s so focused on indoor comps she’s known as the Queen of climbing. When she does go outside, her hardest grade was the 9a “Seleccio Natural” in Santa Linya. She’s also been very close to sending “Biographie”, another historic Sharma 9a+.
“La Dura Dura” was a huge step forward for difficult sport climbing at the grade of 9b+ / 5.15c. It was bolted in 2009 by the legendary Chris Sharma. At the time he was by far the most famous climber in the world and still to this day is an incredible climber. He pushed the grade of sport climbing twice during his reign, being the first person to climb both 9a+ and 9b.
Sharma pushed grades by being pro-active in searching for and bolting many hard project – some of which are still unclimbed even though many others have tried. “La Dura Dura” was one of his longest passions, and he worked on it from 2009 up until 2013, making scant progress.
At the time another young gun was also pushing grades – Adam Ondra. Ondra had recently sent “Change”, a route he graded 9b+ in Flatanger, Norway. The climb was the first of the grade and has since only seen one repeat – by Stefano Ghisolfi eight years later in 2020 – despite many pros trying it.
Ondra was talking to Sharma about the route and Sharma invited him to come and try his personal project. Together they worked the route, exchanging beta and belays. Eventually Ondra was the first person to send “La Dura Dura” in 2013, the second 9b+ in climbing history. Sharma would go on to send the route just a month later, after getting a huge boost in motivation from seeing what Adam was able to do.
Since then many people have tried the route and failed. It’s not called “The Hard Hard” for no reason. The area is an excellent crag with good access and tonnes of other hard routes of a similar – many bolted by Sharma – available to work on.
Both have since said that “La Dura Dura” is harder than “Change”, meaning it’s possibly the hardest 9b+. Check out our comprehensive article on the hardest climbs in the world for a full list of 9c, 9b+, and unfinished projects that could still take the top spots.