The Swiss from western Switzerland Katherine Choong gets a tour of the 9a-Route Jungfraumarathon in the Bernese sports climbing area Gimmelwald. It is the second route in this degree for the 27 year old.
In August 2018 wrote Katherine Choong Swiss climbing history. She was the first Swiss woman to manage the redpoint ascent of an 9a route. Also, globally, this is a feat that not many women have done yet. Just over a year later, she now doubles with the heavily overhanging and 20 meter long route Jungfrau Marathon to. Her visit commented on her as follows.
"Jungfrau Marathon is a 9a located in gimmelwald in the sumptuous setting of the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. After having done my first 9a in Valais in 2018, I absolutely wanted to repeat the performance. It's a personal challenge, to go a little further out of my comfort zone and try a route that is not in my preferred style and that had not yet been made by a woman.
Gimmelwald is a magical place. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains in a peaceful valley where, apart from a few cow bellows or the screams of a few climbers falling down under the relay, it is an extremely peaceful place. A waterfall flows a few meters above our heads, it's definitely my favorit place. It's therefore quite naturally that I chose this place to invest time and energy in a new project.
Katherine after the successful celebration of Jungfrau Marathon (9a) in Gimmelwald
The route is relatively short (about twenty meters), overhanging (35/45 degrees), with hard movements on bad holds. The crux consists in holding a bad shoulder to go far for a pinch. Since last year, I have been falling into this movement that consists for dwarves like me in a very dynamic movement that I could not succeed in the redpoint attempt. I started last year in October. I quickly found my beta and I was already falling into the dynamic movement of the crux. Very close to clip the chain in November 2018, the snow forced me to stop. The bad weather in the spring did not let me go back until early June 2019. It's not a good excuses but it was really hard for me wth the extreme heat of summer. In parallel, I started the world cups at the beginning of July, which didn't go well. I arrived at the end of the summer and finally I had not progressed at all in my project on the cliff, on the contrary, and at the end of the first part of the disastrous competition season. I was stubborn in my method in the crux of Jungfraumarathon and I was really beginning to have doubts about my ability to clip the chains one day.
Jonathan Siegrist at the celebration of Jungfrau Marathon
No remarquable ascent this year outdoor, no very good results in comps, it became very difficult mentally to keep the motivation and confidence in me and it was clearly felt in my attempts in the route. Last week, not even able to reach the crux, a friend finally suggested that I should try the guys' method, which involves putting my foot further sideways. 100% sure that I had tried this method the year before and that it didn't suit me, I still try the beta and I finally could do the movement almost statically, a relief for me! Then something clic in my mind and I was again motivated and confident. The next session the route was ticked at the 1st try of the day! I really feel a little stupid for persisting with my method, convinced that the guys' method was too morpho for me.
It was a memorable day, surrounded by many friends who said it was even more special. When I clipped the chains, it was the explosion of joy. The moment of my life is over. All the effort, the time invested, the sweat, the frustration finally made sense.
In the immediate future and in another field, I am going to Lebanon for a week with Mathilde Becerra. The objective for once is not centered on me and the performance. I want to join the ClimbAid association in order to share some of my experiences, coaching children and young adults living in refugee camps. Then I would like to continue the multipitch Tarrago 8b + in Monsterrat. Then I'll start again."
List of women in 9a club
- Josune Bereziartu (2004): Logical progression (Joyama, Japan)
- Charlotte Durif (2011): PPP (Verdon, France)
- Sasha DiGiulian (2012): Era Vella (Margalef, Spain)
- Muriel Sarkany (2013): Punt-X (Gorges du Loup, France)
- Mar Álvarez (2014): Era Vella (Margalef, Spain)
- Angela Eiter (2014): Hades (Götterwandl, Austria)
- Ashima Shiraishi (2015): Open your mind direct (Santa Linya, Spain)
- Florence Pinet (2015): Esclatamàsters (Perles, Spain)
- Anak Verhoeven (2015): Era Vella (Margalef, Spain)
- Margo Hayes (2016): Bad girls club (Rifle, USA)
- Kinga Ociepka-Grzegulska (2016): Sprawa honoru (Mamutowa, Poland)
- Laura Rogora (2017): Joe-cita (Oliana, Spain)
- Julia Chanourdie (2017): Ground zero (Tetto di Sarre, Italy)
- Alizée Dufraisse (2017): Estado crítico (Siurana, Spain)
- Janja Garnbret (2017): Selecció natural (Santa Linya, Spain)
- Manon Hily (2018); Era Vella (Margalef, Spain)
- Barbara Zangerl (2018): Speed extension (Voralpsee, Switzerland)
- Chaehyeon Seo (2018): Bad girls club (Rifle, USA)
- Katherine Choong (2018): La cabane au Canada (Rawyl, Switzerland)
- Paige Claassen (2018): Algorithm (The Fins, USA)
- Nika Potapova (2019): Fuck the system (Santa Linya, Spain)
- Chiara Hanke (2019): Sever the wicked hand (Frankenjura, Germany)
- Gabriela Vrablikova (2019): Sever the wicked hand (Frankenjura, Germany)
- Matilda Söderlund (2019): The Elder Statesman (Frankenjura, Germany)
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Credits: Cover Picture Julia Cassou, List of Women in the 9a Club (desnivel.com)