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Josune Bereziartu climbs first female 9a

13.11.2002 by

Josune Bereciartu climbs Bain de Sang, Switzerland and becomes first woman to climb 9a

9a. A mythical grade. For all. And just like the first 8c, then the first 8c+, the first female 9a now goes to Josune Bereciartu. The news of her ascent sped through our “small” vertical world in an instant, and given its importance we decided to halt the “unstoppable” to find out exactly how and why. Here’s Josune with the first ever female 9a.

"I started to think about climbing a 9a two years ago, and I began to try "Ini Ameriketan", the route Rikar climbed in Balzola. I could do the crux quite well but the big dyno just to reach it was awful for my climbing style, so when Rikar freed it I didn’t try it any more.

I always wanted to do a route that was a consolidated 9a, and it is because of this that I chose Bain de Sang. I also liked the Nicole brother’s climbing style a lot, so at the beginning of summer I started to think seriously about going to Switzerland. One of my sponsors, Kirolgi, really believed in my project to climb 9a and had given me two years to complete it.

At the beginning of October I felt in good shape, climbing "Ocho años de sexo", "Specialistes" and "Specialistes direct" pretty quickly, so I decided to travel to Switzerland to work the moves and return next year. But to my surprise I felt really comfortable on the route, except for the last move which is the crux. I returned home, worked a bit and then returned to Switzerland, hoping to find perfect climbing conditions. But when I returned the weather was bad and I had to wait for four or five day to try the route again. On the first day I fell three times from the crux, but one attempt was really good and I felt I would be able to do it. The weather was bad on the next day and then after that things turned out to be disastrous. I felt nervous and tense and fell in places that I had never fallen. The crux was so difficult, and I really thought that I would never climb the route again.

The next day, 29 October, the weather was fantastic and dry, and while I was warming up I felt those feelings deep inside you that make you realise that something is special. I redpointed Bain de Sang first try that day - I climbed very concentrated and without making any mistakes. Suddenly I was at the crux, I didn’t realize what was going on and then it was all over, only a few anxious moves to the chain. I was super happy and it was one of the happiest days in my climbing career.

The next day everybody congratulated me and at St Gorge, close to St Loup, I did the fourth repeat of an 8b boulder traverse and a Fb 7c+ problem. The trip to Switzerland was fantastic..."

Seven days, three weeks, 15/20 attempts. The first female 9a by
Josune Bereciartu.
photo Rikardo Otegi

  Josune news archive
  Otegi sends Iñi Ameriketan 9a

Bain de Sang 9a
Saint Loup, Switzerland
FA: Fred Nicole 1993
Repeats: Francois Nicole, Fred Rouhling, Cederic Bersandi, David Hohl
Length: 20m slab, highly technical, crux at finish





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