Entering the history books : Julia Chanourdie becomes world’s third woman to climb 9b

Julia Chanourdie dans Eagle-4, 9b, à St-Léger. ©Jocelyn Chavy

2020 was a year off for climbing competitions, but not for Julia Chanourdie, who will be going to the Olympics in Tokyo. She made the most her time without any competitions by sending her first 9a+ at the beginning of 2020 in Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux, France. In November 2020, she sent her first 9b, Eagle-4, and became the first French female climber to reach the 9b club, joining only two other women to have sent the same grade.

No one doubted Julia was capable of such a feat, but it still required years of work for such a historic achievement. Getting your head around what it actually means to climb the extreme grade of 9b is also a feat in itself. It was first climbed and graded by the master Adam Ondra, and then repeated by the French climber Hugo Parmentier – also an amazing achievement. The 9th degree is not new territory for Julia Chanourdie, no more than competing at elite level. As it happens, the young climber from Annecy qualified last year for the Olympics in Tokyo at the IFSC Combined Qualifier in Toulouse. It was a great moment which came just before Covid hit, first postponing the competitions, and then completely cancelling them until the Boulder World Cup in Meiringen, Switzerland, in March 2021. Yet, this didn’t stop Julia finding new objectives, outdoor ones this time.

St-Léger du Ventoux : Eagle-4, 9b, is centre left and Super Crackinette is on the left of the buttress (where the