It's Deemed 'Necessary Evil.' 2 Women Just Crushed It

Michaela Kiersch and Paige Claassen join just 12 or so male rock-climbers to ascend rock face
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2018 12:13 PM CST
2 Women Conquer Rock-Climbing Monster
Gnarly.   (Getty Images/gregepperson)

In Arizona lurks Necessary Evil, an imposing rock face that has presented a "heinous" climb for the only dozen or so male athletes who have ascended it. One climber who attempted it says it's an incredibly challenging task for anyone under 5 foot 10, but this week, two female rock climbers, Michaela Kiersch and Paige Claassen, became the first women to "send" (successfully finish a route without falling or leaning on gear) the behemoth 90-foot climb—one charting in with a height of just 5 foot 6, the other at 5 foot 1, per Outside. The tinier of the two women, 23-year-old Kiersch, was the first one to earn Necessary Evil honors on Tuesday, while 27-year-old Claassen sent the route the very next day.

Outside describes in detail the arduous challenges of conquering Necessary Evil, including extra-long reaches between extremely small holds, a rough rock surface that scrapes one's skin, an ear-piercing din from the trucks on the highway below, and the need for perfect weather. "It's finicky—it can't be too hot or too cold or too humid, because it will feel impossible," says climber Alex Honnold, who has tried and failed to conquer the rock. "Unless it's too dry, then it will feel slippery." Still, both women persevered and got their payoff. "[Michaela and I] are very different climbers in terms of strength and size, but it was cool to cheer each other on, and we had a solid group of ladies up at the crag," Claassen says. Watch one elite climber try his hand at the beast. (A rescuer discovered that a dead climber was his ex-wife.)

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