Josune Bereziartu Interview - Part I
I guess you remember doing your first 8a, Hiena at Onate, as an important point in your career…
Yes, you are absolutely right. It was a case of “breaking down barriers” for me. Especially for my mind. Hiena and my first 8c route (Honky Tonky) were both the hardest times in my climbing career that I remember. Those difficulties are more than a single grade; there are serious handicaps for climbers. After doing Hiena, 8a, my mind became free and with the pressure gone I was capable of climbing a lot of 8a´s so quickly…Even the first 8a+ came relatively easy…
In 1996 you became the fifth woman to climb an 8b+ route (after Lynn Hill, Susi Good, Robyn Erbesfield and Mia Axon) - Fettucini. Were you inspired by career, words or the approach to climbing of any of them? Or maybe you found your inspiration among other top climbers, not necessarily women?
I’m a woman, this is obvious, but when I climb I feel like a climber, not a male or female. This doesn’t matter to me. There have been three good climbing guys in my climbing life that allowed me to realize it was time to take another step. One of these important moments was when Iñaki Marko (a very good friend, climber and cook) told me: “Hey, Josune, why you don’t try Fettuccini? I’m sure that you can do it!!!” It was his project, he even bolted the route. He gave me that extra motivation, confidence in myself and made me realize that I could try that route seriously. And I think that was a magical time for me. At that time I was already at the level of Fettuccini so he was right, I did it. But after doing this route my friends around started telling me: Why you don’t try the first female 8c?
Can you pinpoint one of the barriers you’ve broken down – 8c, 8c+, 9a, 9a+, 8b OS etc – as the hardest – both psychologically and physically? Or is it hard to compare it?
They are hard to compare. My mental power was also different every year. When I was trying the first female 8c, it was much weaker than today. I remember those tries on Honky Tonky in 1997 and 1998 as an obsession. I was obsessed with the idea that if I climbed it, it would be the first female 8c. It was an idea that didn’t come from me. And that made me suffer a lot. I couldn’t separate that aspect. Friends around tried to convince me: "Josune, it’s just another route, just a different route, don’t take that so seriously". But my determination at those days worked to the contrary. But suddenly one day I did it and it was like liberation of my life. It was as if you went out of jail… I’d never felt this way, with such mental intensity, about any other route I’ve done since then.
When you climbed your first 8c - Honky Tonky, the number of climbers who came to Oñate to try this route increased rapidly. I guess this tendency has changed since that time; when you became better known, male climbers have got used to the fact that you do the hardest staff. Am I right?
Yes, you are right. It’s normal that when a woman climbs a route, some climbers lose respect for that route. They think: if a woman can climb that route, why not me? Maybe it’s not so hard? Maybe I can do it, too. That way of thinking is deep-rooted in our society, not only in the climbing community. So there came some climbers and they realized that Honky Tonky was a serious route. Actually, it’s a reference for many climbers - they know that is a solid 8c.
Alex Huber said that he always concentrates on one goal at one time. Is it the same with you?
Not quite so. Sometimes I have been “frightened” with some projects, especially when I can’t do bigger a one. So I prefer to “escape” other ways. This is typical when you compete. If the results are not what you like, you can work on you shape climbing outside.
Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s the best option – how Alex does it, playing only one card, can be more risky but you get it all in a moment… A different mentality, I guess.
Interview by Piotr Dro¿d¿
To be continued...