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Mountaineering: Queen of Solo

Outside magazine, June 1994

Mountaineering: Queen of Solo
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard and Eric Hagerman)

French sport-climber-turned-mountaineer Catherine Destivelle, who has spent the last several years soloing some of Europe's most venerated peaks, usually in spectacular fashion, knocked off another in March: the Matterhorn. After four arduous days she reached the 14,691-foot summit at 7 P.M. on March 11, becoming the first woman to solo the Swiss peak in winter. The 34-year-old Destivelle, who soloed the Eiger Nordwand and the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses in the last two years, took a route first ascended by the great Italian alpinist Walter Bonatti in 1965. "This was more adventurous than the other climbs, since there was no good information about the route," says Destivelle, who believes she is the only person since Bonatti to climb the route. Her next major project: an alpine-style ascent of Annapurna's south face this fall.

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