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Julia Chanourdie: Strong Indoors and Out 

The French lead climber and Olympic competitor became the third woman in the world to climb 9b (5.15b) in November 2020. 

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France’s Julia Chanourdie (25), of Aviernoz, has a competitive career spanning back over a decade. However, she isn’t just a strong climber on plastic. 

Chanourdie made waves worldwide in 2020, when she became the third woman in history to send 9b (5.15b), after clipping the chains on Adam Ondra’s Eagle-4 in Saint Léger du Ventoux, France. It was the third ascent of the route. Before Chanourdie, fellow Olympian Laura Rogora (ITA) and Angela Eiter (AUT) had sent the grade. Chanourdie has tackled a number of other hard routes outside as well, including Super Crackinette (9a+/5.15a) also in Saint Léger du Ventoux, and Ground Zero and Molasse’son (both 9a/5.14d). 

She stands as one of only a handful of women to have redpointed 9a+ (5.15a).

“I always needed rock climbing outside in my competition preparation,” she told Rock and Ice after sending Eagle-4. “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.”

That said, Chanourdie’s indoor career isn’t marked by any similarly spectacular highs, but rather a dauntless consistency. She’s climbed her way into numerous World Cup Lead finals, and more recently a few Boulder finals. Chanourdie won a bronze medal for Women’s Lead at the 2017 World Games in Wrocław, Poland, behind silver medalist Janja Garnbret (SLO) and gold medalist Anak Verhoeven (BEL), as well as a Lead bronze at the IFSC Wujiang World Cup the same year (her sole World Cup podium). She also took gold in the 2017 Arco Rock Master Duel, alongside Adam Ondra, and won the Combined gold in the 2018 World University Championships in Bratislava. 

She qualified for the Olympics at the Toulouse Combined event in 2019 and is one of four French climbers heading to Tokyo this summer. She’ll compete alongside the Mawem brothers, Mickaël and Bassa, and Speed climber Anouck Jaubert.

Unfortunately, Chanourdie experienced a shoulder injury before the Salt Lake City World Cup this May and didn’t compete as a result. “I was feeling pretty good and having a lot of fun during the session, until I felt a pain in my shoulder, bicep and pectoral,” Chanourdie wrote on Instagram at the time. “I stopped climbing right away, I hoped that it would go away by the time of the competition, but unfortunately it didn’t… my decision was the right one in view of the year’s goals, but I hope that it’s not too serious and that I’ll be able to climb again soon.”

Chanourdie appears to have recovered quite well, luckily. She finished 10th in Lead and 19th in Bouldering at the Innsbruck World Cup in June. “It was an interesting format and it was quite nice to alternate between lead and bouldering,” she reported on Instagram following the Innsbruck comp. “In lead, I ended up in 10th place. Not too bad for my first lead competition since the World Cup in Briançon a year ago, but I’m not totally satisfied with my performance because I felt not relaxed and not confident in my ability to go higher in the route. Regarding bouldering it’s a bit the same, I didn’t believe in myself, but it allowed me to put myself back in a comp mode and learn more for the future. 😊”

Chanourdie followed Innsbruck with another 10th place Lead finish at the Villars World Cup a couple of weeks ago, and then a 6th place Lead finish in Chamonix this week.