Carlo Traversi has once again proven himself as one of the best all-around rock climbers in the world, with his recent redpoint of Yosemite’s Magic Line (5.14c) on February 27.
On March 2 he posted on Instagram:
Magic Line 5.14. All gear placed on lead.
Learned a lot from this one. Finding peace in a near constant state of tension. Moving softly while maintaining that tension. Trusting the granite, testing its limits of friction. Accepting a new feeling of flow. Imagining my feet are like the roots of a tree, grounded in each position. Then ripping them up and pressing them down again. Over and over. Just keep moving. No thinking, just moving. Seeing it through. Demanding perfection.
Much thanks to everyone who I’ve shared the day with at this line over the years. We are lucky to have these places to test ourselves.
Traversi is the fourth person to send the route, and the third to do it placing all the thin gear on lead. Ron Kauk completed the first ascent of the route in 1996 using preplaced gear, rating it 5.14b; Kauk’s son, Lonnie, completed the second ascent with preplaced gear in 2016 and then became the first to place all the gear on lead in 2018; Hazel Findlay was next, placing gear on lead in 2019.
This ascent also makes Traversi the only person to have sent both Magic Line and Meltdown, another thin crack in Yosemite that has earned the grade of 5.14c. Beth Rodden completed the first ascent in 2008 and the route rebuffed all other attempts until Traversi got the second ascent a decade later in 2018.
He first started projecting Magic Line in 2016, returning periodically through the years.
Then, this past November, he made the third ascent of Flex Luthor, a 5.15b sport route at the Fortress of Solitude in western Colorado. A 2016 guidebook had described the climb as “perhaps the most high-profile unrepeated pitch in North America”; until 2021, no one had been able to send it since Tommy Caldwell completed the route in 2003. Caldwell declined to rate the climb’s difficulty at the time, only commenting that it felt “next level.” The media heralded the climb as the continent’s first 5.15. Holds are assumed to have broken since the first ascent, adding a dose of uncertainty through the years as several top climbers investigated. Traversi first tried Flex Luthor in 2015, and he had worked the route this past autumn with Matty Hong, who completed the long-awaited second ascent in October 2021 and suggested the rating of 5.15b. Hong’s success galvanized Traversi’s motivation and he redpointed in early November.
Soon after, Caldwell invited Traversi to project Magic Line with him this winter–it was an easy answer.
Traversi has also been bouldering at the highest difficulty. In the summer of 2020 he sent Creature From the Black Lagoon (V16) in Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2017 he famously conceived his Triple 14 Challenge–sending Jade (V14), Sarchasm (5.14a sport at ca. 12,000′) and Pervertical Sanctuary (5.11-, 6 pitches) to the summit of Longs Peak (14,255′) in less than 24 hours. In 2015 he climbed Magic Mushroom (EX-: 5.13a, 600m) on the right side of the Eiger Nordwand (3970m) with Sasha DiGiulian.
Traversi shared more details about his lifelong pursuit to excel at all disciplines of rock climbing to Alpinist in an email:
How/when did you get into trad climbing?
I started trad climbing right around the time I started climbing, in early 2002. Yosemite was one of the first places that I went climbing outside, and I cut my teeth on many of the classic moderate trad climbs in the Valley. On those early trips, we would usually boulder in the mornings and evenings and then climb one of the classic multi-pitch trad climbs in the afternoon. I climbed my first 5.12 trad climb in 2006 with an ascent of Panic In Detroit (5.12b/c) at Donner Summit.
What was the attraction?
I love the strategy involved with planning and executing solid gear placements. It’s a fun skill to develop. It’s also incredible to be able to approach a completely clean wall and climb it without adding anything permanent. Just like bouldering it feels very pure. It’s also been a longtime goal of mine to maintain the highest level of performance in all disciplines of rock climbing and continue to push each of those levels simultaneously.
How did it feel to go from Flex Luthor at the Fortress to Yosemite slab with micro gear?
It definitely took a bit of time to get my feet comfortable on granite again. Limestone and granite are very different in terms of how you use your feet and the amount and type of pressure you can apply to the footholds. Fortunately I climb in Yosemite more than any other area, particularly in the last five to seven years, so the style is very familiar to me…. My goals moving forward revolve around progression in all the disciplines.
How was it climbing with Tommy after making the third ascent of his route at the Fortress?
It was great! I really enjoyed his positive energy and we shared lots of great stories about our respective experiences at the Fortress and on Flex Luther in particular. He’s also a master of Yosemite granite, so it was fun to exchange tips and tricks for climbing efficiently on the slippery granite throughout the time working on it together.
“Magic Line,” a feature story from Alpinist 66 (2019) about Ron and Lonnie Kauk’s family history with the route and Yosemite Valley, can be found here.
An account of Beth Rodden’s first ascent of Meltdown appeared in Alpinist 25.
More details about Traversi’s Magic Line ascent can be found on Climbing.com.