23 year-old Lucy Mitchell from Belfast recently returned from a productive trip to Oliana, Spain, where she ticked her first 8b/+ with La Marroncita L1 + L2 - all in a day's work. She also made quick one-day ascents of Mon Dieu 8a+ and Mishi 8a in her short 4-day trip, as well as an onsight of Red Bull L1 7c+.
With Fish Eye 8c also on her ticklist, a spell of rain unfortunately spoiled Lucy's chances of redpointing the climb after completing all of the moves bolt-to-bolt the previous day.
Lucy is a coach, routesetter and is part of the management team at BoulderWorld, Belfast. She enjoys multiple sport climbing trips abroad each year and has climbed two or three routes of each grade from 8a-8b, as well as onsighting 8a a few times.
Not solely a talented sport climber on rock, Lucy has achieved 2nd place in the senior female category of the British Lead Climbing Championships for the last two years in a row, narrowly missing out on a win each time, as well as becoming Irish Lead Climbing Champion two years on the trot. However, she claims her best competition achievement so far is hypothetically winning the senior male category in the Irish Championships last year...
Lucy is tenacious in her climbing, but modest in her achievements, so I asked a few questions about her first trip to Oliana to help showcase her talent...
What was your goal for the trip?
Before I went I said I was going to try 8c and hopefully do it but not cry too much if I came away empty handed. My last two trips were good, I’d racked up 7x 8a, 2x 8a+, 2x 8b, and got all the moves on Era Vella 8c+/9a in Margalef so I’d just about convinced myself I can climb 8c. I should be brave, pick a harder route and risk it.
Then I arrived and all reason left. Suddenly I wanted to climb at least 8a each day, an 8b and an 8c (2x 8b+ would do). Sounds silly now…
Did you expect to tick an 8b/+ so quickly?
The way my shoulders felt that morning I didn’t expect to make it up 7c that day. We were classic crag newbies the first day and stuck to the less steep crag edges away from the crazy strong 9a+ Europeans in the steep middle section. I’d tried the less steep China Crisis 8b+ the day before and after struggling my way up it for certainly no less than an hour my fingers were ready to pack up and go home. I only really got on Marroncita 8b/+ the next day so that I didn’t have to try China Crisis again!
How did you feel to tick your first 8b/+?
I was pretty glad I didn’t have to pull on again that day…my skin was in bits!
The crux for me was a big throw out right to a sharp undercut pocket. I fell off here 2nd go, if I’m honest, I remembered how sharp it was and probably didn’t really commit. On my 3rd go it was getting dark and I knew it was my last climb so even if I ended up with eight bleeding tips they would have the night to heal. Time to grit my teeth and be brave. I got the pocket…if I’d have fallen off the top...well, I’d probably still be crying!
What did you think of Oliana as a crag?
Short walk in, long routes, afternoon shade, good coffee nearby…all boxes ticked really.
Every hold felt like a slopey crimp to me and every tick mark I came across had a disappointingly poor hold after it…but I’d go back tomorrow if I could.
What is your usual preference - redpointing or on sighting
I try to onsight everything and if that doesn’t work I try to do it next go!
What's next for you?
Now I have 2 months of Summer Schemes to organise and run in BoulderWorld which should see me getting great at ‘silent feet’, Shark Attack and the odd forward tumble.
In the meantime I’ll really just be trying a bit harder to get a bit better, a bit stronger and a bit more flexible!
I’d like to get to a European wall after a World Cup and try the routes to see where I’m at. After good outdoor trips I suspect this will give me a good kicking and keep me modest.
I hope to get outside to Europe again in either September or December so we will see what happens then!
Lucy is supported by: Lyon Outdoor