Nolwen Berthier Joins Female 9a+/5.15 Club with ‘Super Crackinette’

This week, France’s Nolwen Berthier joined the 9a+/5.15 club — and skipped a step to do it.

Berthier, 28, sent Alex Megos’ Super Crackinette (9a+/5.15a) on April 19, becoming the sixth woman to climb 5.15. Berthier first worked the route in early 2021, after an extensive tour on the competition circuit. She’d previously climbed 8c+/5.14c, but never clipped the chains on a 9th-grade route.

When she did so in Saint Léger du Ventoux, France on Tuesday, she skipped 9a/5.14d altogether.

Berthier realizes ‘f*****g old dream’ on Super Crackinette

The Super Crackinette crux revolves around a tiny pocket, just big enough for a fingertip or two. The “mono” constitutes the only way to get through a steep, otherwise blank section. Previously, the move had burned her off. This year, though, she returned fitter than ever and still determined to close the project.

The pocket in question looks not only narrow (Berthier can almost fit two fingers in it) but shallow and even slopey. It’s deep enough for one finger pad, and Berthier’s hand position — knuckles extended — makes it look like there’s almost no edge.

It would be a tough hold to catch and pull down on no matter where it was. So Berthier was understandably psyched when she yarded past it on her first 5.15 send.

“Today, a fucking old dream come true!!!” she commented on Instagram. “I still don’t believe it but…yesterday was the day!!!! After more than a year of process, I caught this one-finger pocket and clipped the chain of my first 9a+ but also my first route in the 9th degree!!! I admit it’s quite hard to work today…because it feels like living in another reality.”

Keep the stoke high, Nolwen — as far as we’re concerned, you can live in your alternate reality as long as you want.

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.


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