Jacopo Larcher secures the third ascent of the iconic Trad crack line Meltdown (8c +) in Cascade Creek in California's Yosemite Valley. After Beth Rodden's first ascent in 2008, it was a full decade before Carlo Traversi was the first to repeat the trad test piece.

On November 22 rose Jacopo Larcher through one of the most difficult trad lines in the world: Meltdown (8c +) in Yosemite Valley. he is after Beth Rodden and Carlo Traversi only the third climber who can claim an inspection of this extraordinary line for himself.

“There are many difficult trad climbs around the world, but very few have achieved cult status. For me, Meltdown was definitely one of them. I don't know why, but there was this mysterious aura."

Jacopo Larcher
Third ascent: On November 22, Jacopo Larcher climbs the Trad test piece Meltdown in Yosemite Valley. Image: Andrea Cossu
Third ascent: On November 22, Jacopo Larcher climbs the Trad test piece Meltdown in Yosemite Valley. Picture: Andrea Cosu

Aesthetics and difficulty go hand in hand

It's been six years since Jacopo Larcher's first attempts at Meltdown. "At the time I was surprised by the beauty of the line, but also by its difficulty," recalls the South Tyrolean.

Not only because of the thin finger cracks, but also because of the very powerful laybacking on extremely bad and glassy steps.

"After my first two days in Meltdown I was even more impressed with Beth's 2008 ascent!"

Jacopo Larcher

Video: Carlo Traversi on the first rerun of Meltdown

An inspection ahead of its time

When Beth Rodden first climbed the line in 2008, he didn't know much about trad climbing and therefore couldn't understand the importance of the route and its ascent, says Jacopo Larcher. "The route just looked so beautiful, even if it looked absolutely hopeless to me."

"A few years later, as I began to get more and more involved with this aspect of climbing, I realized that Beth Rodden's achievement was ahead of her time."

Jacopo Larcher
In 2016, Jacopo Larcher started projecting Meltdown for the first time. Image: Andrea Cossu
In 2016, Jacopo Larcher started projecting Meltdown for the first time. Picture: Andrea Cosu

More trad experience in the luggage

On his most recent trip to the climbing mecca of Yosemite, Jacopo Larcher worked on the route for another seven days until success came. Fortunately, this time he immediately had much more positive feelings while projecting.

"The kicks were still terrible and the route difficult, but I kind of felt like a more mature (trad) climber."

Jacopo Larcher
When inspecting the Trad crack line Meltdown (8c +), Jacopo Larcher placed all the safety devices in the lead. Image: Andrea Cossu
When inspecting the Trad crack line Meltdown (8c +), Jacopo Larcher placed all the safety devices in the lead. Picture: Andrea Cosu

He was surprised and at the same time motivated when he was able to top-rope through Meltdown cleanly on the third day. "After that, I naively thought that the lead climb would be quick, but laying the mobile belays adds spice and definitely makes the route much more difficult."

"In this route I had to fight very hard and I was about to fall in the upper part, which makes the experience even more unforgettable."

Jacopo Larcher

On the fourth day of his lead attempt, Jacopo Larcher had to fight hard and dig deep into his bag of tricks to reach the deflector. Normally, the ascent on difficult trad routes usually feels very smooth.

Not so in Meltdown: "In this route I had to fight very hard and was about to fall in the upper part." Factors that made the experience of this ascent even more unforgettable for him.

Jacopo Larcher spent the month of November in Yosemite filming for a new documentary about the world's toughest trad climbs. The North Face series How Hard Is Hard? should appear in 2023.

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Credits: Cover picture Andrea Cosu

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