Mina Leslie-Wujastyk has climbed her first 8B boulder problem - The Pursuit of Happiness - on the Cape Peninsula, SA. Mina says that some "some agree with the original 8B, some think 8A+. Who knows, it was hard for me but the pursuit of happiness in climbing is not just about numbers and I am certainly very happy whatever!"
The Pursuit of Happiness was first climbed by local climber Marijus Smigelskis. The boulder problem features a series of compression moves and a range of crimps and slopers, on impeccable sandstone. Mina had two sessions on the boulder in 2014, but unfortunately wasn't successful: "I just wasn't strong enough to put it together, I could do the moves but only just really and the crux felt very unlikely with any climbing into it! So this year I was really keen to try again!"
Mina has now climbed over 50 8A's and 8A+'s, but the 8B grade has been just out of reach. I asked Mina if the problem felt like a big step up from her previous climbs:
"Thats a really tough question in some ways. I have a very level pyramid in bouldering, meaning I have done a lot of 8As and quite a few 8A+s over the last few years, but stepping up to the next level has been really elusive. I just haven't been strong enough in the past, the harder boulders I have done have had to suit me.
"This year, over the winter I did a LOT of training! I've trained a lot before but this felt different, it was much more focussed and for longer (4 solid months) so I think I made bigger gains (especially in finger strength) rather than just recruiting what I already had. In the past Pursuit felt too hard, this year I did it. The process didn't feel like a huge step up but I think that is because I am a much stronger climber this time."
Here's a film of Cape Town local Rowan Toselli climbing The Pursuit of Happiness:
For the past few years, Mina has focussed her efforts on sport climbing and has made several ground breaking ascents, including Mecca and Bat Route. Her long term aim is an ascent of Rainshadow and has spent 12 sessions over 6 weeks on the route this year.
"The training over the winter was first and foremost for Rainshadow, specifically to get strong enough to climb the crux boulder problem on the route. In 2016 I could just about do the moves in isolation but this year it felt much better and I managed to link the hardest section - I'm still a way off red-pointing though! This trip to South Africa we planned for after Malham season, to consolidate all the strength training by going bouldering and hopefully reap some of the benefits of the hard grind over the winter! I also really love bouldering as much as ever so it is really nice to still have the opportunity to do both."
Mina first visited South Africa in 2011 and has returned three times since. She has been in the country for just over a week on this trip and has managed several hard boulder problems already, with the Pursuit of Happiness (8B), Mint Berry Crunch (8A) and the Jerry Moffatt problem Ard Ay (8A+) standing out. Mina and her boyfriend Dave head to Rocklands soon, where she has unfinished business with The Vice (8B).
"It's such a beautiful place to go climbing, the landscape takes your breath away, the amount of rock is incredible. We tend to do pretty big days out here, as the walks are reasonable, which I really like as you get a sense of being really out there in the wild landscape and finish the day exhausted and happy. The climbing is also really varied with some amazing features and lines and there has been a steady stream of new development too."
Mina climbing Ard Ay: