The gap is bridged

Many men - and women, including Angela Eiter - rate ladies’ sports as a less enticing and less fascinating aspect of the men’s ones, at least as far as some disciplines are concerned. We have a tendency to think that ladies’ technical performances or ones of strength and power are somehow less fascinating than those of men; in truth, you just need to watch an artistic gymnastics competition or see Angela climbing to believe that this is not the case. This applies to many types of sport, for that matter. Angela Eiter has been the first woman in the world to climb a 9b route, in the autumn of 2017. As a matter of comparison, 9b+ has only been climbed by two men so far: Adam Ondra, who is also the first to have sent Silence in Flatanger, Norway, a 9c route, and Chris Sharma. This means that, without a doubt, her ascent of La Planta de Shiva is among the most outstanding climbing feats of all times. It is a leap forward which considerably reduces the gap between ladies and men’s climbing.

Aged eleven, Angela Eiter started climbing almost by chance, when she was offered the opportunity to go up the climbing wall of her school. Once she learnt the ropes, her parents would take her to the climbing gym in Imst to train twice a week. Aged fifteen, she climbed her first indoor 8a. She took part in the World Cup lead the following year and, since then, she has gone from strength to strength, winning three consecutive World Cups, in 2004, 2005 - winning an astonishing eight competitions out of nine - and in 2006, scoring seven competitions out of ten. She then won four World Championships in the lead speciality, in Munich in 2005, in Avilés in 2007, in Arco in 2011 and in Paris in 2012. She also won the Rock Master six times (in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012).

La Planta de Shiva. First ladies 9b of all time

I started trying the route in October 2015 and managed to send the individual moves rather quickly, even if I could not link more than three or four moves in one go. At that time I had speed-climbed the first part of the route, rated 8c. I could then see a series of small crimps, full of chalk, which carried on upwards, and felt I wanted to keep going. I had tried the second part twice and immediately grasped that it suited me: I was hooked. I loved the movements in that line and I had fun each time I tried it, so I made up my mind and focused on that project. Back then I was looking for something truly challenging, which would bring out the very best in me. I was intrigued by the idea of trying something utterly tough, perhaps impossible. I really wanted to climb that line. I then went back there seven times in the following years, sometimes just for a week or even two, when work commitments allowed me to. In May 2017, when I finally healed from my accident, I had good vibes from the route, even if I had fallen really high up. Jakob Schubert had sent the second ascent at the beginning of 2016 and had described it as the toughest climb in his life: quite clearly, this had played a part. At one point I had even thought that perhaps I should have settled for climbing only the second part of the route, which was nonetheless much harder than anything I had ever tried up to then. Then, finally, I climbed the second part and, lo and behold, a lightening strike hit me: I realised I could really make it and I seriously had to try it. By that time it was a matter of putting the two parts together and, two days later, I succeeded.