In the beginning of April my parents and I left Belgium for a 2-week climbing trip. We first visited our friends Seb and Bélinda in France where Seb gave me all the bèta of an 8c named J’accumoncelle la Fatigue. It was his project in Les Auberts, a quiet and beautiful area near the city of Valence. I worked it out during the first climbing day of our trip and the next day both Seb and I were able to clip the chain!

J’accumoncelle la fatigue (pic by Sébastien Richard)

Seb and I satisfied with our climb

Then we travelled on to Margalef in Spain where I wanted to try Era Vella, a very famous 9a. There are often morphological moves in hard routes, but since Sasha Digiulian had climbed Era Vella, I thought all the moves had to be alright for women. I was excited to give it a try!

I started working out the moves very carefully as I realised that memorising all of them would be a real challenge. I spent some days finding my way through the conglomerate rock and searching for the best methods. After several hours of trying, hanging and trying again I could finally start doing real attempts. My first tries went well and I fell a few times in the last part of the crux. The route did not feel impossible for me to climb and I hoped to be making more progress when I kept on trying.

On my 5th attempt I fell at the last hard move near the top. It was physically exhausting, but the mental part seemed to be at least as difficult. As time passed by, I could feel the pressure increasing. Every time I did an attempt I had to find the balance between hoping for a top and the reality of a failure.

Era Vella (pic by Sébastien Richard)

After a rest day I gave it another try. I felt like I had difficulty breathing, but I still passed the crux. After a relative rest, where I stayed way too long, I climbed on but quickly felt that I was extremely tired. I was too pumped to climb properly and I fell a few moves further. I wasn’t sure whether I had to try again the same day or come back the day after, but my father encouraged me to do one more attempt and then go back to our van.

So that is what I did. I decided not to take such a long rest again after the first crux, but instead climb a little faster. I felt more confident while climbing and didn’t try to be too much in control. I passed the second crux and tried to be as focused as I could be. And finally, I arrived at the chain. It was done!

Era Vella (pic by Sébastien Richard)

During my nearly 23 minute ascent there was a lot of thunder and lightening, as if a battle was going on in heaven. I was hoping it wouldn’t start raining since the top part catches the rain, but luckily it didn’t.

After another rest day we went to the sector Raco de la Finestra. It was our last day and I wanted to try Aitzol-8c. I had no bèta and it was not easy to find the best method to do the crux move. I worked it out twice and after that I was able to top the route!

Aitzol-8c (pic by Patti Schockaert)

Just in time before we had to start driving back home, a 20 hour trip. I’ve had great holidays and I am very grateful for the teamwork which was necessary so that I could climb my first 9a. I am definitely blessed with a patient dad who lovingly belayes me hour after hour and my sweet mum who encourages and comforts me with every new challenge I face. Thanks to Seb for the pictures and to Johan for being a part of our team. Thank you Jesus for being my rock forever.

Era Vella – Margalef (Pictures by Sébastien Richard):

J’accumoncelle la Fatigue – Les Auberts (Pictures by Sébastien Richard):

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