Young gun Soline Kentzel free climbs 1000 meter big wall Golden Gate on El Capitan

At the tender age of 21, Frenchwoman Soline Kentzel is one of the youngest women to free climb a route on El Capitan in Yosemite. Together with rope partner Sébastien Berthe, she climbed the 36 pitches of Golden Gate in nine days.

As a Alexander and Thomas huber aka the Huber boy Golden Gate (1000m, 8a) as the first rope team to free climb in 2000 Soline Kentzel just the light of the world. In the past two decades, the line has not been freely climbed too often. The repeaters include well-known sizes such as Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Brad Gobright, Emily Harrington or Roger Schäli. Soline Kentzel has recently been able to count herself among this illustrious circle. She's the sixth woman to do this, and at 21, she's behind Beth Rodden one of the youngest to free climb an El Cap route.

soline-kenzel-golden-gate-portalledge
Soline Kentzel in the portaledge high above Yosemite Valley. Picture: Sebastien Berthe

Rapid progress

Soline Kentzel is part of the team at Sebastien Berthe, which sailed from Europe to America in November 2021. The Belgian climbing pro who recently put up an epic fight with the toughest multi-pitch route in the world, has become something of a mentor for the French in trad and crack climbing. “When we got to Yosemite three months ago, she could barely reach the deflector of a 5b,” Berthe writes about the Golden Gate redpoint ascent.

Rectangle_Knatsch in Magic Wood
soline-kentzel-golden-gate-offwidth
The crack novice in the Golden Gate monster offwidth. picture Sebastien Berthe.

This statement is of course greatly exaggerated, especially since Soline Kentzel will be in Oliana in April 2021 China crisis (8b+) drew. However, the young Frenchwoman has little experience when it comes to securing routes herself. And in this regard their development on the granite walls of the Yosemite National parks are very impressive. At the beginning of April, Soline Kentzel managed the trad route final frontier (9 pitches, 8a) at the Fifi Buttress. Three weeks later they are now doubling with the repeat of Golden Gate (36 pitches, 8a) after.

Demanding weather conditions

In the easier pitches up to 7a, Soline Kentzel and Sébastien Berthe took turns in the lead. They both climbed all the heavier ones by lead climbing. The duo spent a total of nine days on the 1000 meter wall. "We experienced some epic snowstorms and rain showers that made surviving the face a real challenge," says Sébastien Berthe.

sebastien-berthe-golden-gate-snow
Sébastien Berthe: "We experienced some epic snowstorms and rain showers." Image: Soline Kentzel

They spent those enforced rest days in their little portaledge, trying not to get wet or freeze. Despite their efforts, one of their sleeping bags had become totally stiff and icy. However, the two were not encouraged by this. "We were able to keep the motivation high and continued climbing as soon as the wall was dry again," says Sébastien Berthe.

“The level of dedication, commitment and perseverance that Soline has brought to the whole process of discovering trad and crack climbing is tremendous. It was really inspiring to follow her path.”

Sebastien Berthe

On the sunnier climbing days, the ice melted from above and threw impressive chunks of ice down on the climbing duo. There was a lottery game every five minutes. "We had to stop climbing, lean against the wall and wait for the chunks of ice to fall around us."

soline-kenzel-sebastien-berthe-golden-gate
Soline Kentzel and Sébastien Berthe in the Big Route Wall Golden Gate. picture Sebastien Berthe

In view of these challenging conditions, Sébastien Berthe is particularly proud of his climbing partner Soline Kentzel: “The level of dedication, commitment and perseverance that she brought to the whole process of discovering trad and crack climbing is enormous. It was really inspiring to follow her path.”

That might interest you

Do you like our climbing magazine? When we launched LACRUX, we decided not to introduce a payment barrier. It will stay that way, because we want to provide as many like-minded people with news from the climbing scene.

In order to be more independent of advertising revenue in the future and to provide you with even more and better content, we need your support.

Therefore: Help and support our magazine with a small contribution. Naturally you benefit multiple times. How? You will find out here.

+ + +

Credits: Cover picture Sebastien Berthe

News

Martin Feistl had a fatal accident

The top German alpinist Martin Feistl had a fatal accident on the south face of the Scharnitzspitze last Saturday.
00:24:44

Seb Bouin: “After the most important crux I fell 11 times”

Video: Accompany French professional climber Seb Bouin on his way to the fourth ascent of Bibliographie in Ceüse.

Alex Honnold goes free soloing even on wet rock

Alex Honnold is back in Yosemite Valley with two 300-meter free solos, one of them on wet rock.

Edelrid Pinch: New belay device with blocking function and direct belt integration

The Pinch from Edelrid is the first safety device on the market that can be hooked into the central ring of the climbing harness without a carabiner.

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter now and stay up to date.

Martin Feistl had a fatal accident

The top German alpinist Martin Feistl had a fatal accident on the south face of the Scharnitzspitze last Saturday.
00:24:44

Seb Bouin: “After the most important crux I fell 11 times”

Video: Accompany French professional climber Seb Bouin on his way to the fourth ascent of Bibliographie in Ceüse.

Alex Honnold goes free soloing even on wet rock

Alex Honnold is back in Yosemite Valley with two 300-meter free solos, one of them on wet rock.
×Display 350x90_Knatsch in Magic Wood