First Repeat of Rayu 8c by DiGiulian, Söderlund and Harrington

© Matilda Söderlund

Sasha DiGiulian, Matilda Söderlund and Brette Harrington have made the first repeat of the Pou brothers' Rayu, a 600m 8c multipitch on the south face of Peña Santa de Castilla (2,596m) in the Picos de Europa, Spain. Their ascent also marks the hardest big wall ascent by an all-female team.

The three women alternated leads and DiGiulian and Söderlund both freed all pitches on the final redpoint push.

The line, which is sparsely bolted and requires additional natural protection, was first freed ground-up by Basque brothers Eneko and Iker Pou and Argentine climber Kico Cerdá in 2020. The trio redpointed the route in a 12.5 hour non-stop attempt from the ground to the summit.

Arriving at the end of August, the three women worked their project before enduring extended periods of harsh weather and severe storms while waiting for a window to make a push for the summit. 

Each member of the team brought different strengths to the ascent: Söderlund, her technical skill and fitness from 9a sport ascents and 8B boulder ticks; DiGiulian, her experience of hard multipitches on the Eiger, in Mexico and beyond, and Harrington, her trad and alpine climbing experience from bold ascents completed around the world.

'The route is mainly trad climbing, making it very adventurous and exposed at some places,' Söderlund wrote on Instagram.

The first half of the 14-pitch line includes difficulties up to 7b, with a mix of bolts and trad protection. The grades increase in the second half up until the crux 8c pitch - pitch 11- which consists of three bouldery sections, the last boulder crux being the most complicated and technical.

'Brette Harrington and Matilda Söderlund's skill sets, support, love, psyche, and commitment to this month long project made this climb possible. I'm so proud of our team!,' DiGiulian shared on instagram.

The route's name means 'lightning' in local dialect and refers to a natural white streak which zigzags down the face.

Watch a video of the first ascent below:

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Congratulations and well done to all three of you! :-)

Great effort. :-)


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