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Nina Caprez climbing Hélix au pays des merveilles 8c+ at Pic Saint Loup in France.
Photo by Raphael Fourau
Pic Saint Loup in France
Photo by Nina Caprez
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Nina Caprez climbs her first 8c+ at Pic Saint Loup in France


On 3 June 2014 Swiss climber Nina Caprez redpointed her first 8c+, Hélix au pays des merveilles at Pic Saint Loup, France.

It's called Hélix in wonderland, but perhaps it should be called Caprez at a wondercrag. Yes, because last Tuesday the 27-year-old Swisswoman repeated Hélix au pays des merveilles at the steep Pic Saint Loup cave in France and, in doing so, she clinched her first 8c+. A grade, lest it be forgotten, that indicates a superb degree of difficulty.

"Climbing an 8c+ was never a precise dream of mine" Caprez told Planetmountain adding, "I simply wanted to climb a dream line that was really difficult. And Hélix was perfect for this." So after having redpointed some beautiful multi-pitches such as Hotel Supramonte, Delicatessen and Silbergeier, Caprez abseiled down into Pic Saint Loup, located circa 1 hour north of Montpellier in the South of France, and got to work on this line that had previously only been climbed by Gérome Pouvreau and by her life and climbing partner Cédric Lachat.

Caprez needed a mere "4 working days" to redpoint the route: one day to try the moves for the first time, a second and third session which resulted in more than 20 falls off the crux boulder section at the 4th quickdraw, and then a fourth day which, four falls later, reaped the redpoint.

The speed of this redpoint provides food for thought: if Caprez manages to climb 8c+ in just 4 days, surely there's much more in store. If she manages to find another dream line at a wondercrag.

Talking about food for thought: during her attempts Caprez also sent Les rois du pétrole second go, along with Cédric Lachat and Mike Fuselier who all agree that this route is more like 8b+ and not 8c as previously thought. Should this really be the case, then this would open up a completley new and interesting scenario. The route in question had in fact shot to fame in 2010 when Charlotte Durif climbed it to become the first woman to onsight 8c. While Caprez is keen to underline the impressive nature of Durif's ascent, stating "I don't intend to devalue Durif's ascent in any way, on the contrary, onsighting an 8b+ is absolutely EXTREME", there is no denying the fact that, if the suggested grade is confirmed, then the first female 8c onsight is still up for grabs!





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