Interview: Julia Chanourdie on “Supercrackinette” (5.15)
Supercrackinette is the young French climber’s first 5.15.
Supercrackinette is 9a+ (5.15a) that meanders up a steep, striped wall set into a hillside in Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux, France . After a long 17-day battle with the route, 23-year-old French climber Julia Chanourdie overcame and sent the climb. With her ascent last week, she became the fourth woman to climb 5.15, joining Margo Hayes, Anak Verhoven and Angy Eiter in the uppermost echelons of sport climbing.
Supercrackinette is best known for being flashed in 2018 by Adam Ondra—the first time ever that a 5.15 was climbed in a single try. In an interview with Rock and Ice afterward, Ondra described what makes the route so difficulty: “The individual moves aren’t super hard, but the hard thing about it is it’s really hard to even chalk up. You have to just keep going, and the whole climb is draining you, and your fingers just want to open.”
Chanourdie had sent three 5.14d’s before cracking the 5.15 barrier. She is also a top competition climber, having secured one of the 20 spots for women in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Rock and Ice caught up with Chanourdie to hear what she had to say about the climb and the Olympics.
Q&A with Julia Chanourdie
Supercrackinette took you 17 sessions to complete. Are there climbs that have taken you longer or that you found more difficult?
Oh yes, 17 days on the route is definitely my longest project. But it’s funny because when I was 14 I probably spent at least the same amount of time on a hard 8b [5.13d] called Tartine in La Chambotte, Haute Savoie, France. Even with three 9a routes on my tick list, breaking through the 9a+ mental barrier took me way longer than expected.
How would this achievement compare to an Olympic medal in your mind?
Well, in my mind these are two very different goals. My main goal is definitely the Olympics, it’s a much bigger challenge and investment than everything else. You have to train so hard in three disciplines to be the best for one special event, which has a huge audience and importance worldwide.
However, climbing 9a+ was not planned at all: the goal was to fight hard on a beautiful line at the crag. Supercrackinette fit those objectives and 9a+ was the grade… so everything came up naturally. When you send, you don’t have much or any audience; maybe you get few people applauding; you feel proud of yourself and then you search something harder. So it’s very different from competition.
So again, it’s two different things. I love both of them—they are definitely essential for my personal balance.
Did you have any conversations with Alex Megos [who did the FA] or Adam Ondra [who flashed the route] before attempting Supercrackinette?
Actually I didn’t speak with them, but since a lot of friends were trying the route, too, we were constantly sharing beta, discussing the route… Quentin Chastanier, who bolted the route, was also there during my last few attempts and when I sent. I was lucky to share so many good vibes at the crag with great people.
What is your typical training schedule for outdoor projects, and how does it differ from training for competitions?
I always needed rock climbing outside in my competition preparation. It’s a kind of physical and psychological balance for me. And I know that working hard routes is good training, because the limits are always being pushed further, and thanks to that I can have different objectives.
Last year was a bit complicated to go outside with all my Olympic preparation. This is why, after my qualification, I wanted to go back outside and enjoy real rock. Regarding Supercrackinette, I was at the crag only on weekends—during the week I trained for the other comp disciplines. It was a great schedule for me.
How would you describe your climbing style?
I’m a powerful and resistant climber: I like tiny holds and I like hard physical efforts.
What are your goals for the Olympics?
For the Olympics, my main goal will be to bring a gold medal home! I definitely have the capabilities for it and the combined format makes anything possible.
Who do you look up to in climbing?
In climbing, nobody. But in athleticism yes. I’ve been doing this sport since I was 14 years old, and I always admired Allyson Felix, the American sprinter
Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
I don’t think I have any favorite quote or motto, but it depends on the period in my life, I guess. The only thing I can tell you is that I really like to keep things simple and follow my flow.
What do you do outside of climbing?
Climbing takes a lot of time in my life, but actually I treat it as a job and a hobby, which means I’m doing other activities during my free time. First of all, I’m studying sport sciences and I am in my second year of bachelor. I also like simple things like having good times with my family and my friends, hiking and running in the mountains, reading.
What edge do you bring to the Olympics that other competitors don’t?
Probably the fact that I’m multi-skilled… I really don’t know!
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