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A week ago the famous French climber Julia Chanourdie became the third climber in the world to climb the 9b difficulty on the rock route!
This landmark for Julia was the “Eagle 4”, which is located on the cliffs of St Leger in the south of France.
We suggest reading a short interview with Julia, which she gave after passing.
How are you feeling and how was that crazy day last Saturday?
Now I feel great and it is still difficult for me to comprehend what happened, everything happened so quickly.
I gradually begin to understand that something incredible has happened, something that for a long time seemed simply impossible to me.
I woke up in my little van that Saturday.
Climbing the route already seemed real to me, I knew this because I had made very good attempts the day before.
So I was looking forward to getting back on the route, although I didn’t expect to give my best for a 9b climb.
As usual, I started my day with other warm-ups. Often I go through three lines before starting my main project.
I like repeating routes, I am not only working on something new.
On that day, I managed to pass the category 8b “Autant suspend mon vol” line, which I had previously tried to pass on-site.
After that I moved on to Eagle4, making three attempts on it, failing in all three in the initial section; I finally managed to complete the route in a fourth and desperate attempt.
In fact, after three failures, I was even too lazy to try climbing a fourth time.
To do this, I had to increase my motivation (thanks to my partner for that), as I thought I was too exhausted in past attempts.
But as soon as I made the first movement, one of the most difficult for me on this project, everything went perfectly.
It was a little colder than my previous attempts, and I was determined to just focus on getting the key out.
When I got to the resting place after the first and most difficult part, exactly the one along which the route gets its rating, I needed to fully recover in order to cope with the second part, which is approximately rated 8b, in particular due to the long dino in the middle of the site.
This dino made me a little nervous.I was as focused as possible, I needed to rationally distribute the moments of rest and tension.
Could you describe the route, its main difficulties and the most difficult movements for you?
The route can be divided into two parts.
The first part is where the route gets its category.
This section is rather short but busy. It consists of two short, complex sequences of movements on minuscule.
The second part is quite long, category 8b.
However, this part is not trivial for sport climbing, as it consists of a sequence of bouldering movements with a skate in between in the form of light climbing.
In particular, one movement made me nervous the most: it was a long stretch on a minuscule one, from which I could break off in one count.
Simply put: it was the most difficult route that I have ever climbed.
By comparison, the Supercrackinette route (ed: Julia climbed March 14, 2020) became a mental workout for me, while the Eagle4 is more about muscle strength, grip strength, core tension.
Can you tell us about the process itself, from the first try to the climb?
I first started trying the route in September.
I was able to do all the movements at the bottom of the route, I did it the first time.
But I was in no hurry and after a while I checked the second part of the route, which, in my opinion, turned out to be much easier, but still remained frightening.
In total, the entire climbing route took me about 10 days.
This is very little time, which is why it is still difficult for me to realize that I have passed the route.
In any case, I feel right now at the peak of my physical condition.
I feel great on the rocks, in addition, the style of the route suited me: it was all about strength load, grip strength and endurance.
There is no focus on this route. Here, either you are catching up to the zetsep or not.
At the end of October, I learned that the French national team would not go to the European Championship, so I changed my plans and decided to spend some time on the rocks of Saint-Léger.
At the beginning of last week, some of the holds on the route were still wet and I decided to take the time to dry them out to try and get through the project.
Before that, I had not approached him with the real intention of climbing. But as soon as I decided to go the route, my desire to reach the TOP surpassed everything else.
What was the key to success in this ascent?
It’s hard to say what the key element was. I achieved my goal gradually.
I would say that once I decided to try my best, it was only a matter of time before climbing, and everything went very quickly.
Was climbing 9b one of your goals?
After going through Supercrackinette, I decided I would try Eagle4 someday.
And the fact that I witnessed the climb of Hugo Parmentier (Hugo Parmentier) played a role, I was inspired by this route.
It was quite logical, but still I did not think that I would ever be able to climb a category 9b route.
I was not ready for this, I thought so.After the first few attempts, I felt that I was able to quickly move higher, and confidence began to return to me.
Grade 9b became my goal after completing all the moves individually.
This is another difficult climb on the rocks of Saint-Léger. What makes this place so special to you?
I really like the Praniania sector, firstly because the local routes are great, and also because I spent my best time there, always in great company.
This is the place where I felt good. I feel like one with the rock, and I have many fond memories of this place.
Are you planning to travel specifically for the most difficult routes?
I dream of traveling around the world to try all the challenging routes, but now I have to combine rock climbing and competition.
And I’m happy with how I handle it. I manage to have fun trying difficult routes on the rocks, it is my passion and it is also part of my preparation for the competition.
I’ve always needed a balance between climbing and outdoor climbing.
Progress on the rock is an integral part of my training as an athlete.
I enjoy challenging projects, I love solving problems and finding ways to complete them.
In terms of competition, for me this is one of the best ways to get stronger.
This year I was able to devote more time to the rocks and dare to try even more difficult routes.
It’s all about adaptation.
We had to deal with restrictions and prohibitions this season and sport climbing saved me !.
What are the general principles of your preparation for the Tokyo Olympics?
As for my preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, I plan to work more specifically on each discipline, while continuing to climb the rocks, perhaps even with new projects!
What would you like to say yourself?
First of all, I want to thank all the people who help me and support me in my climbing life.
And I hope that my climbing and my performances will inspire people and help them continue to do what they love!