Erbesfield-Raboutou: 5.14a at Age 45


Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou teaching with the ABC for Kids program in Boulder. Photo by Topher Donanue / Courtesy of

Erbesfield-Raboutou: 5.14a at Age 45

Fifteen years ago Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou was the third woman to climb 5.14. Now she’s just completed another 5.14a (8b+) near her summer home in France. Raboutou redpointed Bad Attitude, a route established many years ago by her husband, Didier, at St. Antonin Noble Val.

Raboutou was a four-time World Cup champion in the early 1990s, and she climbed two 5.14a routes in 1993. Now 45, she has two children and has focused on family and her work with the ABC for Kids athletic program at the Boulder Rock Club in Colorado. Although she has continued to climb at a high level, she hasn’t redpointed or even attempted a 5.14 since her competitive days.

But last summer Raboutou and her family took a climbing trip to Rodellar, Spain, and though she had a fantastic time she was frustrated by failing to onsight some of the “in your face” climbs there. “I wanted to go back stronger this year,” she said, and so she added some serious bouldering to her training. “I had Bad Attitude in mind when I headed to France,” she added.

Bad Attitude begins with a 5.13c route that Raboutou had redpointed before, then continues with 14 hard bouldering moves. She had tried the full climb once before when she was much fitter, and, she said, “The opening moves of the crux section were so hard I couldn’t imagine doing it.”

But with her bouldering strength up, Raboutou got back on the climb this summer and was able to climb through the opening of the upper section. The family went back to Rodellar for a 10-day trip, and Raboutou onsighted several 5.13 routes, including a 5.13b. Back in France, she concentrated on the route and managed the redpoint after two days of working out the moves and two days of redpoint attempts. On the successful day, she fell off the last hard move during three redpoint burns before sending.

“I’m still more passionate about onsighting, but it was great to do a route this hard that Didier had put up,” she said. “It’s easy to have a project when it’s that close to home,” she added. The climb is 10 minutes’ drive from her home in southwestern France.

The Raboutou children also are passionate climbers, and while mom was redpointing 5.14a, her son Shawn, age 10, completed his first outdoor 5.13a, and daughter Brooke, age 7, did her first outdoor 5.12a.

“It’s helped my level go back to where it was because we’re doing it together as a family,” Raboutou said. “They’re fighting me for the end of the rope.”

Date of Ascent: August 2008

Source: Robyn Raboutou

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