Sasha DiGiulian, Matilda Söderlund and Brette Harrington manage the first women's ascent of the difficult big wall route Rayu (610m, 8c) in the Picos de Europa in Spain. Opened in 2020 by the Pou brothers and Kico Cerdá, Rayu climbs the steadily increasing south face of Peña Santa de Castilla.

The American climber Sasha DiGiulian writes together with her compatriot Brette Harrington and the Swede Matilda Söderlund Climbing history: As the first all-women team, they climb the impressive Big Wall route rayu (610m, 8c) in the Picos de Europa in Spain. At the same time, the trio secures only the second ascent overall.

«Big Wall Free Climbing is a reminder of what humans are capable of. That's what we do and that's why we came here. It's that feeling of creating something you didn't think was possible."

Sasha DiGiulian

DiGiulian, Soderlund and Harrington climb Rayu (8c) | Source: Red Bull Content Pool

Badass trad line

The big wall route Rayu (8c) was completed in 2020 weeks in XNUMX by Iker Pou, Eneko Pou and Kico Cerda furnished. Rayu leads as a dizzying and hard trad route with isolated bolts through the steadily increasing south face of the Pena Santa de Castilla.

Matilda Söderlund and Sasha DiGiulian sort the material needed for the Big Wall Rayu at Base Camp. Image: Red Bull Content Pool
Matilda Söderlund and Sasha DiGiulian sort the material needed for the Big Wall Rayu at Base Camp. Picture: Red Bull Content Pool

Located in area 6c, the first half of the spectacular route leads to a spacious but sharp and sloping ledge where DiGiulian and her teammates spent the night.

Three pitches above the ledge is the crux of difficulty 8c, followed by two more technical pitches.

How it all began

DiGiulian, Söderlund, Harrington: A strong trio

Sasha DiGiulian asked Matilda Söderlund to become her teammate as they have been friends for a long time and the Swede has already climbed 9a routes and pulled Boulder to 8b. The third in the group, Brette Harrington, is best known for her impressive solo efforts.

The 6-year-old American free solo climbed Chiaro di Luna (8c) on Aguja Saint-Exupery in Patagonia and scored an XNUMXb trad route in her Californian home on Lake Tahoe.

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Sasha DiGiulian leading the way high above the sea of ​​fog. Picture: Red Bull Content Pool

Crucial point becomes the sticking point

Shortly after Sasha DiGiulian and Matilda Söderlund redpointed the route on September 12, the three climbers rejoined the route to help Harrington successfully complete the crux.

They supported Harrington from September 16th until the end of the trip on September 22nd, but until then she was unable to complete the 8c pitch – it would have been her first route at this difficulty.

«I wanted nothing more than that Brette creates the 8c. She tried more than a dozen times and fell in the same place every time."

Sasha DiGiulian

Aside from the 8c crux, Brette Harrington led many of the 13 pitches and showed a cool head when it came to placing belays or overcoming no-fall zones in difficult terrain.

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The crux of Rayu is waiting for the climbers with difficulties in the upper eighth French degree. Picture: Red Bull Content Pool

Navigating through the adventure together

In addition to the technical difficulties and the sharp rock, the weather was also a real challenge, says Harrington. “The storms were felt everywhere. A massive hurricane raged off the coast of Portugal. Some days it was foggy, other days it rained and there were thunderstorms called 'chubasco'."

"It was impressive to learn how to master such adventurous trad pitches as a team," adds Matilda Söderlund. Once she accidentally kicked off a large block that nearly hit Sasha.

Again and again the trio encountered loose rock in Rayu. And almost every pitch had passages where it was not possible to fall, says the strong Swede. "In addition, the cracks don't run nicely parallel, which made placing the fuses challenging."

"Fortunately we didn't have any bad falls. We are even already talking about the next joint project. We complement each other really well in terms of climbing style.»

Matilda Söderlund

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Credits: Cover photo Red Bull Content Pool

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