Julia Pfanzelt (52) and Cathy Wagner (56) are in their prime

2 August 2022

Julia Pfanzelt and Cathy Wagner met last week in the Dolomites where they both did Il risanatore plus (8a) in Salares, both suggesting an upgrade to 8a+. Inspiringly, they both are in their prime at ages 52 and 56 respectively. Cathy is well known having made 8a headlines 80 times. She did her first 8a, out of some 850, in 1994, eight years before Julia started to climb at age 32. In the last year, Julia has done eight routes 8a and 8a+ meaning she has had her best year ever. (c) Chris Pfanzelt

Julia, could you say something about your climbing life, and excelling at age 52?
Before I started climbing I did other sports: as a child, I did gymnastics until I became too tall (I am 1,78, which is too tall for gymnastics from a certain level on). I then changed to long-distance running and Tennis, which I also liked a lot. But in 2002 a friend of mine took me to a climbing gym and I knew from the beginning, that this is my sport!

I slowly improved until a level of 6c and then in 2008, I met Chris, who is my husband today. He climbed all his life and became a very good mentor and trainer for me, so I could push my climbing levels really fast and in 2014 I climbed my first 8a. I was already 44 then! Until now I climbed 54 routes 8a and harder. My husband and I love climbing all over the world together and since I improved over the years, we can climb in the same projects now, which is really a gift.

We are both over 50 now and still love to always have new challenges in climbing and quite frequently I can climb 8a and 8a+ like last week in the Dolomites with the routes Il risanatore plus (8a) and Supermegabastun (8a). For that, we are very grateful and hope that we can go on like this for many more years. But the most important is to have always fun with it together… 😉

Last week in the Dolomites we also met Cathy Wagner and Seb. I was very inspired by them and it is very impressive to me, how many hard routes Cathy climbed in her climbing life, which is much longer than mine. And especially to see that they are still so motivated after so many years of climbing was really great to see. I hope it will be the same with my husband and me for many more years.

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