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Action Directe

In the forests of Frankenjura, Germany, lies the world’s first 9a. It’s the most repeated and attempted route of this grade, and a climb that is widely considered as one of the most important landmarks in climbing history – one that changed what is ‘possible’ in the world of climbing.


Sport Route






15m (45ft)

First Ascent

Wolfgang Gullich

Date of FA


Action Directe

Ascent Log

ClimberSuggested GradeDateNotes
Wolfgang Güllich9a/5.14d14th Sep 1991FA of the first 9a route in the world. Wolfgang climbed it in 11 days with specific finger training and campus boarding.
Alexander Adler9a/5.14d9th Sep 1995Video
Iker Pou9a/5.14d7th Jun 2000Video
Dave Graham9a/5.14d21st May 2001Dave took 7 days over the course of a month to make the fourth ascent. Planet Mountain
Christian Bindhammer9a/5.14d14th May 2003UKC Article
Richard Simpson9a/5.14d13th Oct 2005There are doubts on whether he climbed the route or not. When asked about it, he was unable to say who belayed him or whether there was witnesses. Instagram Post
Dai Koyamada9a/5.14d15th Oct 2005Video
Markus Bock9a/5.14d22nd Oct 2005UKC Article
Kilian Fischhuber9a/5.14d25th Sep 2006Planet Mountain
Adam Ondra9a/5.14d19th May 2008Video
Patxi Usobiaga9a/5.14d24th Oct 2008Instagram Post
Gabriele Moroni9a/5.14d17th Apr 2010Video
Jan Hojer9a/5.14d22nd May 2010Video
Adam Pustelnik9a/5.14d10th Oct 2010Video
Felix Knaub9a/5.14dOct 2011UKC Article
Rustam Gelmanov9a/5.14d26th Mar 2012Video
Alexander Megos9a/5.14d3rd May 2014Megos climbed the route in just two hours!
Felix Neumärker9a/5.14d16th May 2015Planet Mountain Interview
Julius Westphal9a/5.14d25th Jun 20158a Article
Stefano Carnati9a/5.14d14th Jun 2016Video
David Firnenburg9a/5.14dNov 2016Video
Stephan Vogt9a/5.14d2017Video
Simon Lorenzi9a/5.14d2017Video
Said Belhaj9a/5.14d2018Hannes Huch accused Belhaj of lying about his ascent of Action Directe. Instagram Post
Stefan Scarperi9a/5.14d2nd Nov 2018Video
Adrian Chmiała9a/5.14d5th May 2019Instagram Post
Mélissa Le Nevé9a/5.14d21st May 2020The first and currently only female ascent of Action Directe. Video
Phillip Gaßner9a/5.14dMay 2021Video
Buster Martin9a/5.14d4th Oct 2022Video
Dylan Chuat9a/5.14d21st Apr 2023Instagram Post
Vojtěch Trojan9a/5.14dMay 20238a Article
Stefano Ghisolfi9a/5.14d5th Nov 2023Planet Mountain

Climb Profile

The Route

Milan Sykora, a renowned German climber, first stumbled upon Action Directe in the 80s. At the time, Sykora was already known for bolting and pioneering challenging climbs. With Action Directe, he bolted the route and traversed it from the right to complete the top moves. However, he found the lower part of the climb seemingly impossible. That was until he considered his friend, Wolfgang Gullich, and invited him to attempt it directly from the base.

This led to the christening of the route as “Directe”. Gullich also noted that the name referenced a French revolutionary group active in 1979, known as Action Directe, notorious for their attacks and assassinations.

This unassuming rock was once the hardest route in the world ©RolfBittner

As one of the most iconic routes in the world, it is truly distinctive. It’s steep and compact, featuring only 15 metres of climbing and 5 bolts, yet it demands significant skill and power. The climb begins with a mono pocket dyno to a 2-finger pocket at a 45-degree angle, leading to strenuous pocket-pulling sequences to reach the finish. The first ascent comprised a sequence of 16 moves. Nowadays, climbers tend to opt for a more efficient, direct route, completing the climb in just 11-13 moves to the anchor.

Wolfgang Gullich – The Man That Made History

Action Directe - the first 9a climbing
Wolfgang Gullich making history ©ThomasBallenberger

In the annals of climbing history, Wolfgang Gullich occupies a place of remarkable distinction, not only as the first individual to ascend Action Directe, but also as the originator of the precise training method that made such iconic moves possible.

A tribute to his ingenuity and perseverance, the campus board, was birthed from Gullich’s dedication to mono-dynos, a testament to his unyielding pursuit of physical strength and climbing finesse. It was this relentless dedication to training that saw him complete the climb in just 11 days from the onset of his attempt. On the memorable day of September 14, 1991, Gullich achieved what was then a world-first 9a climb.

This monumental ascent would only be replicated four years later, and since then, the climb has seen dozens of successful attempts, although one of which is subject to debate – a fascinating story revolving around Said Belhaj.

Other Ascents

Alex Megos Action Directe 9a
It took Alex Megos only two hours to complete this iconic route! ©Jorgos Megos

Among these repeat ascents, some have been especially awe-inspiring. Among them, the ascent by Adam Ondra at a young age of 15 stands out, as does the astonishing completion by Alex Megos in less than two hours. Yet, rising above them all, a particular ascent holds a unique place of honor.

In May 2020, Melissa Le Neve made climbing history by becoming the first woman to conquer Action Directe. This incredible achievement is notable due to the climb’s characteristics, which are typically associated with powerful, traditionally ‘masculine’ climbing techniques. Both height and raw strength play crucial roles in this ascent.

Le Neve, the French climber, embraced this formidable challenge as her long-term project. She trained specifically for the climb and returned to Frankenjura persistently over 6 years until she finally achieved her breathtaking send. Her words encapsulate the euphoria and profound emotion of her triumph: “I was hoping this moment wiIl arrive for ages. Never I would have imagined how emotional it would be to clip the anchor. I totally fell in love with the process, to solve the puzzle and unlock this jump”.

 Melissa still stands as the only female climber to have successfully climbed Action Directe

This extraordinary narrative of achievement, both by Gullich and those who followed his path, serves as a testimony to human potential and the power of dedication. May the legacy of Wolfgang Gullich continue to inspire future generations of climbers.

Action Directe FAQs


Video Library

Sam Laird

Quite likely the only idiot currently hauling a 70-meter rope and four pairs of climbing shoes around the world. Sam lives for backpacking, adventure, and of course, climbing. If he's not exploring crags and getting shut down on new projects, you can find him sharing his passion for climbing in publications such as Climbing Shoe Review,, Gear Junkie, and UK Climbing.

Return Of The Sleepwalker

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