23 year-old Belfast-based climber Lucy Mitchell has ticked her first 8c - Fish Eye - at Oliana, Spain. In May last year, Lucy ticked her first 8b/+ at the same crag with La Marroncita L1 + L2 - all in a day's work - and then set her sights on Fish Eye.
Lucy told UKC:
'I tried it once last May and after a very long time managed to do all the moves. I went again at the start of December and did all the moves first time, but it felt hard, the rests didn't really feel like rests. The next day much better linked in three parts and then next go did it in two overlapping parts...that was it I thought! I was so wrong...'
After falling off in an unexpected place, it was down to the last go of the trip:
'I was destroyed but just had one more go to finish. I got the the top slab totally fine and I couldn’t believe it, then the hold before the crux felt weird. I looked down and it was covered in blood! I had a massive flapper! Blood was pouring down my hand before the three smallest holds on the route. I gritted my teeth and got through the first two holds. One more and I'd done it! Then I was off. Literally heartbroken - no time, no skin, no energy, plenty of tears, so close.'
Lucy was fortunate to be returning over Christmas, but she also had to deal with two weeks of worry:
'I needed to be as fit and strong as I was…if not more! First time back indoors I felt rubbish, this actually continued for the next two weeks. I think for the most part I was still tired. I think I’d racked up 12 ascents of Fish Eye...just with rests!'
Returning mid-December, Lucy felt on top form, but the route continued to play 'hard to get':
'I got back to the top slab that day and then for the next three days remained at this position. Getting to the last bolt, feeling fresher than ever before and fluffing it. It was totally in my head. I'd fall off and pull straight back on and climb to the top with apparent ease. ‘I'm here again…it must be time to fall off !’ This is the first time that's happened to me, and what's worse - I knew it was happening!
'But I had a day off and then on the first go next day, I felt pretty knackered, pumped, the sun was blazing and the odds were against me, but this time I actually did it ! So in the end I was actually just relieved to have finished it! I lost the excitement a few attempts before. The best feeling was that first time I hit the high point. That felt great, really quite special!'
Having achieved a personal best, Lucy says she's not looking to go a grade higher just yet:
'I’ll hopefully get away again in March / April time. Right now I'm definitely not looking at bigger grades. I’d love to get to the point where 8b/8b+ could comfortably happen in a day. Another 8c, somewhere else, maybe France for a change. We’ll see!'
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 onsighted 8a muliple times in addition to her hard redpoints.
Read a UKC interview with Lucy.
Lucy is sponsored by: Lyon Outdoor