Catherine Destivelle is recognised and admired as the most adventurous and exciting female climber in the World today. Her daring accomplishments as a solo climber in scaling the most difficult and dangerous peaks without the use of safety ropes, support or back-up is legendary. Her passion and desire to conquer the most challenging mountain faces in the world satisfies her emotions and her thirst for adrenaline, keeping her at the forefront of climbing and ahead of her time. She has completed a number of solo climbs never accomplished before by a female climber, such as a winter climb up the north face of the Eiger and the south face of Xixapangma. She never stops challenging herself or nature, overcoming her fear every time she sets foot on the mountain.
Catherine Destivelle’s climbing is deeply rooted in the traditions of this sport, at one with mountains and adventure. She began climbing at the age of 13: “When I tried rock-climbing, I was good at it straight away, so I liked it”. By the age of 15, she was picked up every Sunday by a group of more experienced climbers and whisked off to Fontainebleau for the day. By the age of 16, she had climbed the Couzy-Desmaison route on the Olan and the Devies-Gervasutti route on the Ailefroide followed the year after by an ascent of the American Direct on the Petit Dru.
In 1985, Catherine Destivelle began her professional climbing career, starring in rock climbing films and winning multiple international climbing competitions. These included Sportroccia in 1985, (later known as the Rock Master annual competition), the Arco in 1986, and Bardonecchia climbing championships in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
In 1988, she climbed the still-new 13c route called Chouca at Buoux, France, a radically steep line of one-finger and two-finger pockets that had become the symbol of the sport-climbing revolution. It was then the hardest route in the world ever climbed by a woman.
After competing in the second Snowbird Cup in 1989, she retired from competitions to focus on mountaineering. In 1990 she free-climbed the Nameless Tower in Pakistan and solo climbed the Bonatti Pillar on Les Drus. In 1991, she opened up a new route up the famous west face of the Drus, during a remarkable 11 day solo-climb. In 1992, it took her 17 hours to solo the north face of the Eiger in the Bernese Oberland, a mythical rock-face, regarded as the most fatal in the Alps. During the same year, she attempted the huge Latok in Pakistan.
In 1993, she achieved the winter solo of the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses, and attempted the West Pillar of the Makalu in Nepal. She soloed in winter the Bonatti route on the North Face of the Matterhorn in 1994, and in 1995 she climbed the South West Face of Shishapangma in Tibet, and attempted the South Face of Annapurna. Destivelle climbed the Direct North Face of Cima Grande di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites in 1999, and was again the first woman for this solo ascent which took her 2 days.
This extraordinarily brave woman is an accomplished speaker in both English and French. She gives inspirational presentations where she challenges and inspires her audience to re-focus their goals to achieve success by sharing her visions and startling achievements. Catherine powerfully illustrates with slides, video footage and films the necessary vision, belief and self-determination needed to stretch herself to her full potential.
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