The 39-year-old Belgian sport climber Muriel Sarkany has redpointed Punt X in the Gorges du Loup, France, becoming the fourth woman ever to climb 9a (5.14d).
Sarkany reported on 8a.nu: "It is a dream which becomes reality! To make one 9a, I dreamed about it and I did not think that it would become true one day."
However, after trying Punt X, Sarkany felt that she had found the right route at the grade.
"I looked a lot to find this route and as soon as I tried it [Punt X], I felt that one day I could make it," she wrote on 8a.nu.
Sarkany was indeed right, as she finally clipped the chains of this stout limestone route, notorious for its bad pinches and mono-intensive crux.
"It was a big investment in time and in energy, but the result was really worth it!" wrote Sarkany on 8a.nu.
Sarkany's redpoint of Punt X makes her the fourth woman to have achieved the high-end grade of 9a (5.14d). The barrier was first broken in 2002 when Basque powerhouse Josune Bereziartu climbed the Fred Nicole slab testpiece Bain de Sang (5.14d) in Saint Loup, Switzerland. French star Charlotte Durif became the second female to climb the grade in 2011 when she redpointed PPP (5.14d) in Grotte de Galetas in France’s Verdon Gorge. And in 2012, Sasha DiGiulian joined the ranks by sending Erra Vella (5.14d) in Margalef, Spain.
Sarkany, who is from Brussels and started climbing at the age of 15, has now made history with her ascent of Punt X. Perhaps even more impressive is that she has achieved this extremely high level late in her career as a climber. In fact, Sarkany has already had a successful career as a competition climber, winning her first UIAA Lead World Cup in 1996. She went on to win an unprecedented 75 UIAA and IFSC World Cup lead titles (and this doesn't include World Championships and Arco Rock Masters) during her competition years, making her one of the most successful competition climbers of all time. Sarkany quit competing in 2010, and has since been concentrating on hard outdoor sport routes. She has progressed rapidly, climbing her first 5.14c in 2012 by sending Ultimate Sacrifice also in the Gorges du Loup and now has reached the elite level of 5.14d.
Check out this short film by Joe Kinder featuring Sarkany projecting Rollito Sharma Extension (5.14b) in Santa Linya, Spain.
Climbing Obsession with Muriel Sarkany – presented by Sterling Rope from sterling rope on Vimeo.