Many of the world’s strongest booted up for a go at the line, but all came away empty handed. But on November 7, 2018, BD Athlete Carlo Traversi put all the pieces together, and clipped the chains on the route, claiming the coveted second ascent of Meltdown. For Traversi, however, the achievement solidified what he already suspected: Beth Rodden’s legendary ascent was ahead of its time. “I still don’t completely understand it,” writes Traversi. “But cheers to Beth for showing me the way.” Check out this beautiful film by Cameron Maier documenting Traversi’s second ascent.
There is no better way to reflect on a great achievement than with the effort of another. Such is the case with repetitions in climbing. We pour everything we have into a first ascent, without the confidence of knowing it is possible in the first place, and once it’s all over, we wait to see what others think. Will the effort stand the test of time? When will we get the opportunity to compare our experience with another? Sometimes it’s only a few minutes. Sometimes it’s a few months. Sometimes it takes decades.
In the case of Meltdown, a route sitting smack in the middle of Yosemite, one of the most popular proving grounds in climbing, 10 years is a long time to wait. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Some of the world’s best traditional climbers and even some sport climbers had spent time on the route over the years, but none of them found success. Many claimed that their fingers weren’t small enough to fit into the jams. My sausage fingers can confirm that claim right now as pure myth. That’s an easy excuse that may hold weight on other crack climbs, but certainly not this one. So, what is it about Meltdown that held off a repetition for 10+ years? What skills did Beth possess in 2008 that were further refined than anyone else?
If you asked me, I would say talent, strength, and incredible persistence. All those mixed with an intimate understanding of Yosemite granite that is unparalleled. Meltdown is power, resistance, and this insane ability to maintain intense, consistent pressure on the worst footholds imaginable and then be completely relaxed while doing it. I still don’t completely understand it. But cheers to Beth for showing me the way.
- Carlo Traversi