Welcome to… 8c

Climbing an 8c has been a big goal since I started sport climbing. It represented a huge challenge for me and always seemed a little unrealistic, however I was excited to try and hoped that one day I could complete this goal. I started sport climbing just over a year ago when I climbed The Cider Soak (8a), as soon as I did this route I was hooked, I wanted to climb on a rope all the time! A month after that I climbed my first 8b- New Power Generation in Gorges du Loup. This is when the goal of 8c really started but I knew it would take a lot of work; I started trying an 8b+ at Anstey’s a little but soon realised that I wasn’t near strong enough so decided to leave it and hopefully come back and do it in the future. Just under a year went by and I still hadn’t managed to do my first 8b+. I had a go on Patpence (8a+) at Anstey’s Cove in April and then set myself the goal of climbing Tuppence Ha’penny (8b+) before my trip to Rodellar. The reason for setting this goal was to bridge the gap between 8b and 8c which would be a main goal on the trip. As the trip got closer I managed to do Tuppence Ha’penny… the following week I did Poppy which is considered to be hard 8b+ and has been given 8c in some places. Shortly after that I did another which again was pretty hard at 8b+ called Chimera. I knew that by putting a bit of effort in an 8c might be possible on the trip!

Upon arriving in Rodellar I wasn’t so keen to put loads of time and effort into trying hard on an 8c, I just wanted to climb, there was so much there and I just wanted to try it all! After spending about a week and a half ticking loads of routes, I wanted to start trying something a little harder. I’d been specifically training to try Pata Negra which is a huge 40 meter route where most of the climbing is in a roof. After having a quick go up it I knew that it wasn’t going to happen due to a big jug breaking off creating an additional and very hard crux. So I had a look at another classic 8c there called Welcome to Tijuana which is very short and very bouldery. Before the trip I wasn’t to keen to try this route after playing on it I actually really enjoyed the moves and was excited to give it some more goes.

Redpointing Welcome to Tijuana

Redpointing Welcome to Tijuana photo by Rob Law

As I wanted to try loads of routes in Rodellar I decided to take a different approach to this route instead of my usual way of working something which would be to spend days on it trying the moves over and over again. This time I would only try the route when I was really tired, after having a full day of onsighting and feeling ruined. My theory would be that if I could do the moves when tired I’d have a good shot at doing the route whilst fresh! I also knew that I probably wasn’t quite strong enough yet as my primary training focus prior to the trip was on endurance so I decided to go and do some bouldering in the Ali-baba cave where I did my first V12’s/Font 8A+’s!

After three end of the sessions where I had one go up the route each I decided that a rest day was needed and then I may have a good chance of doing it. The following day, I was very strict and spent the day lying by the river and swimming a couple of times. I tried to completely forget about the route and just completely relax for the day… I took an early night that evening and was super psyched to start giving the route some redpoint attempts the following day. I woke up early, had an appropriate breakfast and headed down to Café Solo. I had a quick warm up on a 7b and went up the route to put my quickdraws in and had my first redpoint… The first redpoint attempt went surprisingly well; I climbed through the first boulder and now all I had to do was the top section which I found much easier. I got through the upper crux and was soon setting up for the very last move which was a big powerful sideways throw to a good finishing hold…I threw for it and couldn’t quite get it! I rested for 30 minutes and had another go. The same thing happened except this time I got the last hold but couldn’t quite hold it and I was soon spat off for a second time. I decided that I was going to have an hour rest and one more redpoint attempt. This time everything felt really good, everything went perfectly, I climbed the route exactly how I wanted to; I got to the last move, chalked up quickly and went all out to latch that last hold! I had done it! I clipped the chains feeling super psyched and over the moon that I had completed this long term goal.

On my first redpoint of Welcome to Tijuana

On my first redpoint of Welcome to Tijuana

Doing this route was pretty special, it shows that all the hard training has paid off and gives me a huge amount of motivation to continue training even harder. Doing the route as quickly as I did was also very motivating and I’m really excited to start trying something even harder now but for now I’m looking forward to a lot more training and also doing some more competitions. Here is a video of Neil Gresham redpointing the route last year:



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