French Woman Climbs Southern Smoke (5.14c)

11/13/12 - The French climber Melissa Le Nevé has climbed Southern Smoke (5.14c) at the Red River Gorge. A week before, Le Nevé, 23, finished Fifty Words for Pump, another 5.14c to the left of Southern Smoke.

Located at the Bob Marley Crag in the Pendergrass Murray Recreational Preserve, Southern Smoke has seen numerous repeats since its first ascent by Joey Kinder in November 2008. However, this is only the route's third female ascent, after Sashia DiGiulian and Ashima Shiraishi. Fifty Words was an open project until 2008's Petzl RocTrip, when Michael Fuselier managed the first ascent (see the video below). And these appear to be Le Nevé's only 5.14c ascents—two of very few female 5.14c ascents on American (or international) soil.

Read more about Le Nevé's ascents on her blog.

Climbing with Le Nevé is Italian Jacopo Larcher, who has also made some impressive RRG ascents. Larcher, also 23, has finished Southern Smoke Direct, the 5.14d that Adam Ondra flashed in late October. Other ascents by Larcher include the "usual" hard routes at the Red: Pure Imagination (5.14c), Southern Smoke, and Fifty Words for Pump. He also onsighted Omaha Beach and climbed God's Own Stone second try (both are 5.14a).

Le Nevé and Larcher have been climbing at the Red since October 27 and only have a few more days in the gorge.

Dates of ascents: October-November 2012



Previous Comments

Pretty surprised to see Climbing come up with such a lame title (I think it's been corrected seing the name mentioned on my Firefox Tab). I'm french and it's a bit downgrading to read "French woman" when speaking of one of our best feminine climbing element. Come on guys you've proved several times that you can be better than that! For the other part of the debate I've no idea how grades of this level vary from Europe to the States but I came up with the same remarks as you guys. Lately europeans have crushed a lot of hard american routes. But many friends of mine which climbed in the Southwest said that lower gradings (around 5.10 and 5.11) were way harder there so don't know what to make of it. I guess europeans athletes are in top shape this year haha!

hanzy - 11/14/2012 8:29:59

And I'm with "anon". It'd be the same as if a French magazine ran the headline "American woman wins at Arco", for us to find out inside the article that they meant Sasha DiGiulian. Doesn't feel nice, hein?

RAIV - 11/14/2012 1:22:37

Why is her name not in the title of the article? 'French Woman' makes it sound so random... Melissa is talented, hardworking, and successful in her own right, worthy of recognition. Why not do so in the title?

anon - 11/13/2012 10:09:18

I'm with ya man. I have been waiting for the euros to come and dominate our stone for a while now. I based this slanderous, unamerican sentiment purely off of american performance on foreign crags (excepting Graham and Sharma). Oh how good it feels to be right, I guess...My favorite euro smashing to date is Ramon Julian's performance at rifle. If I had to read one more editorial about the cryptic, nails hard nature of that choss-pile I was gonna puke. Rifle's not hard, we are weak, time to step it up my fellow patriots!

Grylla - 11/13/2012 9:01:48

Wow! It seems as if all the euros are coming to our "premier" crags and making childs play of America's "hardest" routes. Maybe we as American climbers need to rethink how we grade sport routes here. What is everyone elses opinion on this? Please comment. Ok, climbing magazine editors delete this comment in 5,4,3,2,......

La Fayette de Cat poop - 11/13/2012 3:18:58