A while back I posted that I was contemplating trying to go from 7a to 8a in a single year. I decided to go for it! I divided the year into 3 phases: mental, tactical and physical. I just wrapped up the first phase and climbed my first 7b (5.12b) - very proud! I thought I’d post an update of my progress here, and of course I’d be very interested in getting some tips
In this video I show the send of the 7b, and explain why I’m doing this (long story short: my hips are badly damaged and I may need to quit bouldering, so I’m on this adventure as the ultimate way to force myself to enjoy sport climbing - and so far it’s working haha).
I started on January 1st. At that time I could send most 7a/v6 boulders at my gym and the ones I tried in Albarracin, but I couldn’t red point 6c (5.11a) in the gym or outdoors. This was partially due to endurance and tactics, but mostly due to fear of falling (which turned out to be mostly a fear of losing control).
So, after putting in about 20 hours of dedicated mental training (to overcome the fear of falling as well as learn how to climb relaxed), I managed to send my first outdoor 7b.
Working on the mental part made a huge difference, not just in terms of climbing grade - I also enjoy sport climbing so much more now!
Some other stuff I noticed: I managed to send a technical 7a a week after the 7b. I was using this route as a way to practise tactics. I noticed it had a juggy pocket that I couldn’t use as a rest the first 2 times I tried it. But I kept looking for different positions and experimented with breathing and then suddenly the 3rd time I was going bolt to bolt I managed to relax and get energy back! After this I gave it 1 red point attempt and immediately sent it. Being able to relax and get energy back was a game changer, and I have no doubt this was 90% mental.
In the next phase I will focus on tactics and strategy. I spent 1 weekend practising this in a 7a and 7c route and I feel like I already learned a massive amount. I have no doubt I’ll be able to red point the 7c after I improve my tactics and strategy.
I also notice I’m having a LOT of fun now that my mindset is to learn rather than to send. I can be in any route and just enjoy the process. In the 7a, I decided to try a red point attempt because I felt I had learned most of what I could learn from that route. If I wouldn’t have sent it, it would have been OK and I would’ve started working the next route. After all, my goal this year is the 8a - everything else is a learning experience to get me there
Over the next few weeks i’ll also be exploring some 8a’s; there’s a short vertical compression one (Merlin in Ettringen), a pumpy cave one (Glucose in Modave), a heavy overhung one (Déversification in Grotte du Brotsch), a bouldery powerful one (Yahoo in Bomal) and long technical one (in Berdorf) that I will try to explore. Although I’m getting better, I still have trouble estimating what I’m capable of and what I’m good at. For bouldering I have a pretty good idea, but things seem to be different for sport climbing.
Anyway, I’m really enjoying the process, I’m learning loads about myself and starting to appreciate sport climbing more and more