The Frenchwoman Julia Chanourdie has risen to the illustrious group of 4b conquerors with the inspection of Eagle-9 in Saint Léger. Only two women had cracked this level before her. But now comes compatriot Pierre Le Cerf and proposes a devaluation to 4a+ after climbing to Eagle-9.

In mid-February fetched himself Pierre Le Cerf the fourth ascent of Eagle-4, the classic in the St. Léger du Ventoux climbing area. This was only possible before him Adam Ondra, by Hugo Parmentier and Julia Charnourdie. They all rated the route in the Praniania sector as 9b. The 21-year-old is now the first repeater to propose a devaluation to 9a+.

Proposes as a 9a+ rating: Pierre Le Cerf on Route Eagle-4 in Saint-Léger du Ventoux. Image: Adrian Boulon

Ondra's hesitation, new beta

Pierre Le Cerf justifies his devaluation proposal with the fact that Adam Ondra initially considered a 4a+ on the first ascent of Eagle-9 and only hesitantly suggested 9b after a kick breakout in the difficult start sequence. "I also know," continues Le Cerf, "that the developer Elie Morieux originally thought 9a+."

"Given my beta I have to suggest 9a+, 9b would be too much for me."

Pierre Le Cerf

The strong Frenchman also argues that he has found another beta, specifically a knee clamp between the first and second sections of the route: it is small and the knee clamp is a bit morpho. So someone a little taller than him won't have any trouble with that. "Given my beta, I have to suggest 9a+, 9b would be too much for me," concludes Pierre Le Cerf

Adam Ondra on the first ascent of Eagle-4

The first 15 meters of Eagle-4 are physically very demanding with boulder-heavy moves, underholds, large lock-offs and a persistently difficult traverse. The upper part of the route is - as is Julia Chanourdie in the video of their inspection formulated – a funky 8b with a dyno move halfway up.

Tedious review stories

One who doesn't think much of Pierre Le Cerf's valuation proposal is Cédric Lachat. The Swiss has been in St. Léger for a long time and is trying to get Eagle-4 to do an inspection there. But he is less concerned with the devaluation proposal in and of itself. The Romand is much more bothered by the handling and the approach of the French.

"Pierre is very strong but has no experience with difficult routes."

Cédric Lachat

"Pierre is very strong, but has no experience with difficult routes." Therefore, one should wait for the opinion of the next repeaters before saying 9a+. "In addition," says Cédric Lachat, "you usually discuss with the previous repeater before proposing a new assessment." Pierre Le Cerf showed a lack of respect in this regard.

Cédric Lachat in Retour Gagnant. He gets the second ascent after Adam Ondra during a break from Eagle-4. Image: Adrian Boulon

The Frenchman himself does not let this accusation sit on him. He sent Julia a message and suggested a call. "A few days later we spoke on the phone together," says Le Cerf. Julia Charnourdie left unanswered Lacrux's inquiries about the rating discussion about her most difficult route to date.

Enough of the competition

Cédric Lachat emphasizes that he lost motivation because of the whole evaluation history and the atmosphere around Eagle-4 with the likes of Pierre Le Cerf. He leaves it open whether he will continue to try the line. "I come very close to pulling them, but I keep falling out."

Regarding the discussion about knee clamps and kneepads, he says the following: "To be honest, I don't care. The route is difficult and that doesn't change anything for me." In fact, it is even more difficult for him to use the knee, which is why he does it without.

Cédric Lachat during a test in the first section of Eagle-4

Pierre Le Cerf admits that other people's solution is physically harder than his. "I probably would have needed a little more time without knee clamps and knee pads." But not so much that it would have affected his suggested evaluation. According to the Frenchman, it took him 10 to 12 sessions to reach the Eagle-4 deflector without a fall.

"I think at the moment I would like to change rocks and rediscover my climbing values."

Cédric Lachat

Cédric Lachat is not very enthusiastic about the specific training required for the climb. He trained for high-performance sport throughout his youth. “Now I want to climb and enjoy myself on the rock and no longer train for a competition like I used to.” For him, climbing is about exchanging ideas with others, challenging yourself and enjoying nature. "I think at the moment I would like to change rocks and rediscover my climbing values."

As of today, Eagle-4 is still traded as a 9b despite Pierre Le Cerf's devaluation proposal. The assessments of the next repeaters will show where the level of difficulty will level off in the future. At least there is agreement that the Eagle-4 is a beautiful and tough line.

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Credit Cover Photo: Marc Daviet