From Lazkao in the Basque Country of Spain, Josune was seventeen years old when a TV documentary about two women climbing in France’s Verdon Gorge introduced her to the sport. Since that moment, she was deeply compelled to try climbing. A very determined person, Josune’s personality fit perfectly with the sport; if she wants something she will not stop until she succeeds.
BREAKING DOWN THE FIRST BARRIERS
After doing her first 8a/ 5.13b "Hiena" in Oñate, Spain, her mind became free and without any internal pressures she was able to climb many difficult routes quickly. A few years later, she became fifth woman to climb 8b+/ 5.14a (after Lynn Hill, Susi Good, Robyn Erbesfield and Mia Axon). The following year (1998), many people around Josune pressured her to try to be the first woman to climb an 8c/ 5.14b. This additional pressure created a mental barrier that she had never before experienced, and it weighed heavily upon her. Despite this, she finally red-pointed "Honky Tonky", 8c /5.14b, and became the first woman in the world to climb at that level.
After that, her obsession for the next two years was to become a multi-faceted climber and trained to succeed on various styles of routes: overhangs, faces, roofs, short power routes, or long stamina ones. Then, in 2000 she broke through another barrier and became the first woman to climb 8c+/ 5.14c with her ascent of "Honky Mix" at Onate, Spain. With this new benchmark established, Josune then focused on climbing many of Europe’s most famous routes, including: Le Specialist Direct (8c/5.14b) and Macumba Club (8c/ 5.14b) in France, and Noia (8c+/ 5.14c) in Italy.
2002 A DIFICULT YEAR: FIRST 9A
If there is a magical year for Josune, it was 2002 when she once again raised the bar with the first female ascent of a 9a/ 5.14d. The route, "Bain de Sang" (Blood Bath) is located in St. Loup, Switzerland and represented a new breakthrough in her climbing. Also in the spring of 2002, she climbed her hardest boulder problem, a difficult traverse in Balzola’s cave called "La travesia de Arriota", which weighed in at the traverse grade of 8c or V15.
That summer she began climbing multi-pitch routes, and her free ascent of an old aid line was documented by Spanish television. The classic route, called "El Pilar Del Cantabrico, was 550 meters long and demanded difficult free-climbing up to 8a+/ 5.13c with very old and questionable fixed protection.
Since that time Josune has been motivated by multi-pitch routes, and together with her husband Rikar Otegi they established the 300-metre "Yeah Man" 8b+/ 5.14a in Switzerland’s Gastlosen range.
More and more routes came after, and between all of them she made the fourth ascent of "Logical Progression" 9a/ 5.14d, in Yoyama, Japan, and the second ascent of Switzerland’s "Bimbaluna" 9a/a+, or 5.14d/5.15a.
In 2006, Josune began to look higher; discovering ice climbing and alpinism, as well as focusing on long traditional routes. She has made ascents of several Alp classics such as the Walker Spur on Grands Jorasses and the Cechinel-Nominé on the Grand Pillar De Angle on Mont Blanc. Josune and Rikar also opened the 400-metre route "El Ojo Critico", 8a/ 5.13b in Spain’s Ordesa National Parc, a difficult and traditionally protected route with only a few fixed pitons.
Check out Josune's blog at blogs.barrabes.com/JosuneBereziartu