Climbing

I started climbing at the age of 14 and I fell in love with climbing in South of France in the Calanques.

Just won my first world Championship in Paris
©E_Rainer

I’ve twice been a world champion and three times an overall world cup winner. At 17 I did my first 8b on my first try in the Cimai, climbing a route called « Sortilège » with Patrick Edlinger and Marilé Walch. I sent my first 8c+ (5.14c) in 2000 while in the USA with François Legrand, Shelley Dunbar and Andrew Dunbar. At this time, I was one of only two women (Josune Bereciartu) to have achieved this level of climbing. Sport climbing was what I was doing the most but I also loved bouldering and did many specific trips around the world for it (Rocklands ; Bishop, Hueco Tanks, Hampi and of course Fontainebleau being the most famous). Together with Arnaud Petit, Stephanie Bodet and François Petit we went to Hueco Tanks where I climbed my first 8A (V11). Of course climbing is something very important for me. I learnt a lot from climbing, from the competitions, from my travels and obviously from all the great people I got the chance to meet along my way.

11 years old and ski touring on Dome de la Sache, French Alps

Most people know me as I was when photographed as a young adult winning almost all the competitions. A competition climber, a plastic climber. But my heart has always been in the mountains, where I grew up. As a kid I was reading stories of alpinists, of dramas, of « alpine conquest ». I was deeply inspired by people such as Jean Marc Boivin, Eric Escoffier and Vallançant. But also older alpinists such as Desmaison, Bonatti, Rebuffat, Doug Scott, Gary Hemming, and others… My favourite was Louis Lachenal. When I was 14, I told my dad I wanted to climb Mont Blanc before I started High School. The summer passed and soon school was about to start. I had the national competitions to do the last week-end of August and then it was back to school for me. Luckily, the Thursday and Friday before the nationals the weather was supposed to be ok and my dad took two days off. We went to the Gouter hut where we had no booking and slept on the bench in the eating room. The day after we reached the summit of Mont Blanc on a slightly stormy day while most of the parties turned back. The cloud shrouded my view and I could see nothing. I was pretty disappointed even though I was happy to be at the summit of Western Europe’s highest peak. The storm came in while descending and I could tell my dad was worried because we were lost in the fog. But we kept moving to stay warm and after a moment that seemed very long the clouds lifted slightly and we continued our descent, making it down just in time to register for the nationals where I placed 3rd.

Mount Charleston and my first 5.14’s, back in 2000
©J_Visser

During my climbing « career » I encountered some painful moments. In 2001 I was dropped accidentally by an American climber whilst climbing in the states, leaving me with back and nerve injuries, but the main wound was psychological. Something was broken and I lost my love for climbing. From 2001 to 2007 I was not able to climb really. I tried, but my heart was not in it anymore. During this time I did a Master Research in Cognitive Psychology, took another course in coaching, learnt skydiving, traveled a lot but had a hard time being happy.

In 2007 without even thinking about it I just went climbing like I always had and again I had so much fun climbing that I knew I will climb my whole life.  Lots of things happened in my life from 2008 to 2012 : first big wall, first BASE jump, moving in Chamonix, getting injured several times, but above everything, loving life and feeling happy more than ever.

At this point of my life, I’m more attracted by climbing in the mountains. Of course sport climbing is still something that I love. But I enjoy more the feeling of being a small thing in a giant place, sharing something very unique and powerful with my climbing partner. The magic of the mountains. The strong link that grows between two climbers, the emotion, the fear, the pain, the happiness…. Everything is distilled in the mountains. All your senses are heightened. Your body and minds are hyper aware of everything. Feeling extremely alive. Aware of being alive. And how much life is precious.


Sharing a fun day with Steph Davis in the french Alps ©M_Daviet

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