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Necessary Evil

Necessary Evil was not only the first 8c+ in America, it was the route that put the then 15-year-old Chris Sharma into the spotlight. Little did he know he was about to become a climbing sensation, a living legend and the best rock climbing in the world.


Sport Route


United States





First Ascent

Chris Sharma

Date of FA


Necessary Evil

Ascent Log

ClimberSuggested GradeDate of AscentNotes
Chris Sharma8c+17th Mar 1997First 8c+ in America Instagram Post
Tommy Caldwell8c+1998
Dave Graham8c+20th Nov 2001
James Litz8c+19th Dec 2004
Alex Megos8c+
Adam Ondra8c+24th Feb 2015
Mike Doyle8c+Feb 2015
Michaela Kiersch8c+6th Feb 2022
Paige Claassen8c+7th Feb 2022

Climb Profile

The Route

Originally bolted by Boone Speed, this route has become a benchmark for climbers seeking to test their limits against steep, overhanging limestone. The wall, adorned with striking orange and black streaks, tilts just past vertical, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the already demanding climb.

 John Cardwell Necessary Evil
 John Cardwell on the route

Spanning approximately 35 meters, Necessary Evil is not just a test of technical skill but also of endurance. Rated at 8c+ (5.14c), it’s a pretty challenging route with only one rest spot. The route’s holds are small and require precise, powerful movements, demanding a high level of strength and control from climbers.

The evolution of Necessary Evil into its current form is a story of collaboration and progression in the climbing community. Initially, to climb the majority of the route, an ascent began on “Don’t Call Me Dude.” However, with Boone Speed’s approval, Chris Sharma linked the original start of Necessary Evil to “Route of All Evil,” creating the line known and revered today. This modification not only enhanced the route’s continuity but also its overall challenge.

First Ascent

17th March 1997: Chris Sharma

Sharma, with a keen eye for potential, recognized that the route, as it was initially set, could be enhanced. The original path required starting on “Don’t Call Me Dude,” but Sharma, with Speed’s approval, decided to link this start to “Route of All Evil.” This change was not just a tweak in the path but a significant enhancement of the route’s complexity and appeal.

Describing the climb, Sharma said it was like tackling two consecutive 5.14a boulder problems, separated only by a brief and barely sufficient rest.

Chris Sharma on Necessary Evil climb
Chris Sharma making history ©Jim Thornburg

Sharma’s successful ascent of Necessary Evil was a milestone in his climbing career. It demonstrated his ability to push the limits of the sport and to approach climbing routes not just as physical challenges but as opportunities for creative problem-solving. His ascent remains a notable achievement in the climbing community as one of the first 8c+ routes in America.

Oh, and did I mention Sharma was only 15 and had only been climbing for 3 years? Yup. Legend. 

First Female Ascent

6th Feb 2022: Michaela Kiersch

Michaela Kiersch, had recently made the first ascent of Goldilocks, a 5.14b at the Red River Gorge’s Gold Coast, before tackling Necessary Evil. Her success on Necessary Evil wasn’t just a personal triumph but also a groundbreaking moment for female climbers, as it was the first female ascent of this challenging route.

Michaela after she made the first female ascent of Necessary Evil
Michaela after she made the first female ascent of Necessary Evil ©digitalstokephoto

Less than 24 hours after Kiersch’s historic ascent, Paige Claassen, another highly skilled climber, redpointed Necessary Evil. This quick succession of female ascents highlighted a significant year for women in climbing, marked by numerous breakthroughs and remarkable achievements.

Paige making the second female ascent of Necessary Evil
Paige making the second female ascent ©Tara Kerzhner

These ascents by Kiersch and Claassen were not just personal victories but also symbolized the evolving landscape of climbing, where women continue to push boundaries and achieve new heights.

Other Epic Ascents

Necessary Evil has been tackled by some of the biggest names in rock climbing. The second ascent was made by Tommy Caldwell a year after Sharma. Dave Graham also climbed the route in 2001.

Mike Doyle on his 59th attempt of Necessary Evil
Mike Doyle on his 59th attempt of Necessary Evil

Adam Ondra tried the route in 2015 and it comes as no surprise, he clipped the chains after just two attempts on the route. One very notable ascent however came from Canadian climber Mike Doyle. In February of 2015, Doyle achieved his longtime goal by sending Necessary Evil on his 59th attempt. Now that’s dedication!

Header image by ©Tara Kerzhner

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Meet Angel, a former desk-jockey turned global wanderer. After catching a severe case of the climbing (and travel) bug, she's now a world traveller, living the dirtbag dream. Highballs? Too mainstream for her taste. She's all about the thrills of lowballs, where the real action happens. Nowadays, you'll find her in Thailand, either precariously balanced on a granite slab or trading stories with Nemo and his buddies underwater!

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