BEREZIARTU FREES 5.13 IN THE PYRENEES

Posted on: July 9, 2007


Couple Josune Bereziartu and Rikar Otegui sit below Super Weissmuller (8 pitches, 300m), which they freed at 8a/8a+, comparable to 5.13b/c, on June 15. The line ascends the southwest face of Petit Pic De Ansabere in the French Pyrenees. It was climbed three years ago with a single point of aid, now the free crux, on Pitch 4—a thin and runout section with sub par rock. [Photo] Josune Bereziartu and Rikar Otegui collection / Courtesy of www.planetmountain.com

On June 15, Josune Bereziartu and her husband Rikar Otegui made the first free ascent of Super Weissmuller (8a/8a+ [comparable to 5.13b/c], 8 pitches, 300m) on the Petit Pic De Ansabere, Pyrenees, France. The route was first climbed in 2004 by Mikel Zabalza and Unai Mendia using one point of aid. The husband and wife pair, who climbed ground-up as Zabalza and Mendia had, nearly freed the climb first try, falling on the crux fourth pitch. They sent on their second go. This climb serves as yet another testament to Bereziartu's prowess; since the late 90s, Bereziartu has worked to push the limits of female climbing in various disciplines.

Zabalza and Mendia's first ascent in 2004 was established ground-up with almost no protection. Bereziartu confirmed that the climb was both runout (especially the crux pitch) and chossy (especially in the easier sections). "The rock is not the best," she said, "[it's] pretty scary in the easiest lengths and just 'not bad' in the hard ones."

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Bereziartu is perhaps best known for her sport climbing achievements, including Honky Tonky (8c or 5.14b) in May of 1998, which marked her as the first female to climb the grade, Honky Mix (8c+) in 2000, Bain de Sang (9a or 5.14c/d) in 2002, Bimbaluna (5.14d/5.15a), and Logical Progression (9a) in 2004. She was also the first woman to onsight 8b+.

But in recent years Bereziartu also has made a number of difficult traditional ascents. Super Weismuller marks another impressive ascent for Bereziartu and her husband; it is their second hardest trad climb after their 2004 first free ascent of Yeah Man (8b, 9 pitches) on the north face of the Grand Pfadlue in the Swiss Gastlosen mountain range. The pair's tick list was further complimented by their 2006 onsight of Divina Commedia (7c A2+, 300m), an eleven-pitch aid route in Spain's Ordesa National Park.

In addition to freeing Super Weismuller, the pair also climbed Spigolo De Ansabere on June 27, and Sorgintxulo, while in the Pyrenees. Bereziartu deemed both "incredible routes (until [one climbs into the sandbagged sections of] old-style 7b)." As an added bonus the pair also freed some easier routes in nearby Ordesa National Park.

Sources: Nicholas Hobley, www.planetmountain.com, www.climbandmore.com, www.josunebereziartu.com, www.gripped.com and www.kairn.com



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