After Alex Honnold free soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, even your mom was clued in to the gut-clenching thrills of rock climbing. The sport has seen a surge in mainstream popularity thanks in part to the video of Honnold’s sweaty palm-inducing climb, but he’s not the only one sending epic routes. If there’s rock, people will climb it—no matter how scary the climbing routes look, no matter how inhospitable the surroundings.
Climbs are ranked by difficulty according to the Yosemite Decimal System, but that’s not the only factor that determines just hard a climb can be. In some places, just getting to the wall can be a journey, and once you’re on it, you’ve got to navigate factors like cold and wind along with your line.
These six climbing routes are all ranked among the most technically difficult, but when you take a more micro look at what they entail, you’ll see just how gnarly they really are—and how skilled the climbers who mastered them must be.
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