Age: 28 Specs: 5-foot-9, 119 pounds
Home: Ordizia, Spain
THE CASE: The tight-knit rock-climbing community in northern Spain's Basque country presented a new international star in June with the news that Josune Bereziartu had redpointed Honky Mix, a 100-foot limestone route near Oñate, thereby becoming the first woman ever to climb a 5.14c. The feat was no surprise to European climbers, who'd seen her tick off three 5.14b's with an efficient, controlled style. A ten-year veteran of the rock, Bereziartu herself stands in something less than awe of the accomplishment. "It's nice that this was the first 5.14c climbed by a woman," she says, "but for me the most important thing is that it was the secondoverall ascent of a route that's been a project for several strong climbers."
SECOND OPINION: "Watching her do her first 5.14b, I couldn't believe how calmly she moved," says American climber Eric Fagan, who recently returned from a two-year stint in Spain. "It looked like she was climbing vertically, but the route was 55 degrees overhanging."
MOST HARROWING MOMENT: Last spring, nightfall caught Bereziartu and husband Rikardo Otegi halfway up an eight-pitch route near Riglos. They finished in the dark and hiked to their car only to realize they'd left their keys 600 feet up the cliff.
WHAT'S NEXT: Brief tastes of American crags such as Colorado's Rifles are bringing Bereziartu back for more. "The look of the American West is so different from the forests of Europe," she says. "You have incredible national parks!"