In the past week, Julia Chanourdie and Katherine Choong both sent La Cabane au Canada, a 9a (5.14d) in Rawyl, Switzerland. For Choong it was her first climb of the ninth grade, for Chanourdie it was her third, but for both it was a big accomplishment and a sign that these women are among the best.
First with the send was Chanourdie. The 22-year-old French climber has had a big couple of years, collecting ascents of two 9a’s before this past week: Ground Zero, Tetto di Sarra, Valle d’Aosta, Italy, which she sent in March 2017; and Molasse’son, Mollans-sur-Ouvèze, France, in April 2018.
Chanourdie first tried La Cabane au Canada last summer. In an interview with Fanatic Climbing, she said the 30-meter route has “very intense crimps” in the first half and “a bouldery crux” in the second half. After trying it for two days last year, she returned this year and finished it off. Including attempts from both summers, she sent the route in under 10 tries.
Before sending this past week she knew she was getting close and relished the feeling. “It’s very fun to feel that you have a certain chance to succeed, I just have to get relax and to climb well,” she told Fanatic Climbing. “This ascent was important for me. My international lead competition season is over and stopped early, so it was hard to fix new goals.”
With her redpoint, Chanourdie joins a small group of women that have redpointed at least three 9a or harder routes. The others to have done so are Anak Verhoeven, Margo Hayes, Josune Bereziartu, Mar Alvarez, Laura Rogora and Angie Eiter.
Then, yesterday, Katherine Choong, a 26-year-old climber out of Switzerland, got in on the action. “I’m incredibly happy to have climbed yesterday CABANE AU CANADA, my first 9a!,” Choong reported on Instagram this morning. “This route is a huge achievement for me and the hardest I have ever done. After falling again and again a few meters under the chains on a dynamic move, yesterday, the 4th climbing day in a [row], on the 3rd attempt of the day, exhausted, something clicks: I found my flow every move felt much easier, I was finally ready to give it all. I sticked the dyno and clipped the chains a few minutes before the night. That’s the magic of climbing I guess.”
Prior to La Cabane au Canada, some of Choong’s hardest sends include Southern Smoke (5.14c/8c+), Red River Gorge, Kentucky; Mind Control (8c+), Oliana, Spain; and China Climb (8c/5.14b), Yangshuo, China.