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Historic climb

Saturday, November 11, 2017

VIENNA - Angela Eiter has become the first woman in history to successfully free climb a 9b route.

The project was two years in the making for the 31-year-old Austrian, who achieved the feat in climbing the sport climbing route "La Planta de Shiva" in Villaneuva del Rosario, Spain late October.

Only two people in history - Adam Ondra and Chris Sharma - have tackled a harder rated climb.

But Eiter admitted the ascent on October 22 had almost gone wrong in its final reaches. She said: "Up there on the last moves, I was right at the very limit. Actually, I almost fell off with the last move. So it was incredible."

Ondra was the first to scale the Spanish climb back in 2011, a feat repeated five years later by Jakob Shubert, who described it as the toughest climb of his career.

Eiter had previously tackled three routes rated 9a, but both American Margo Hayes (with "La Rambla" in Siurana, Spain) and Belgium's Anak Verhoeven ("Sweet Nuef" at Pierrot Beach, France) had exceeded that with 9a+ achievements.

But the 31-year-old Eiter cemented her place in the record books with a challenging 9b climb, which she plotted by making a replica of its holds and movements at her local climbing wall at Imst in her native Austria.

It was back in October 2015 when she first came up with the idea of climbing "La Planta de Shiva", and she has made two trips annually to the site since that point.

Filmed by an amateur climber as she reached the top, a clearly emotional Eiter said of her achievement: "Truth be told, I didn't think I had a chance at all. If I'm really honest with myself, I had to admit I stopped believing it was possible.

"I knew if I was going to succeed I'd have to do everything 100 per cent right, and give it absolutely everything I had."

A four-time world champion and three-time Overall World Cup winner, Eiter has already enjoyed a victory-laden honours list.

But her bid to tackle 9b was plagued by a series of setbacks, including broken holds on the limestone climb, an injured finger and a hamstring complaint.

It was to such an extent that she said to herself, "Unfortunately, I'm going to have to abandon this beauty."

Injury free, she returned in May but was buoyed, despite faltering on that occasion, to make a subsequent attempt six months later.

Of her two-year quest, she added: "At the time, I was looking for something really demanding, a route which would require more of me than I'd ever given in the past. I was fascinated by the idea of trying something very, very difficult."

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