26-year-old Swedish climber Linda Sjödin has ticked Bernd Zangerl's New Base Line 8B+ in Magic Wood, Switzerland. The problem had seen four previous ascents by women: Shauna Coxsey, Anna Stöhr, Alex Puccio and Mile Heyden. Compared to the first three IFSC circuit legends and regulars, though, Linda is relatively unknown - a fact that initially dissuaded her from attempting the boulder. She is only the 11th woman in the world to have bouldered 8B+.
Linda started climbing at 19 and is a medical student based in Stockholm. A video was produced about her journey to climbing New Base Line. We sent her some questions to find out more about her and her climbing...
What made you think about trying New Base Line initially?
I went to Magic Wood for the first time 3 years ago and my brother was trying a boulder just beneath New Base Line and I thought it was a pretty cool line. Ever since then, my brother and my boyfriend were encouraging me to try it. I've always liked shouldery moves and I'm good at crimping so the line suits my strengths. This summer I decided to give it one session just to see what the moves were like.
You mention feeling a bit too intimidated or 'out of place' to try it properly after looking at the women who had climbed it before (Shauna Coxsey, Anna Stöhr, Alex Puccio and Mile Heyden). How much of this feeling was because of the big grade and how much of it was down to comparing yourself to these climbers, do you think?
Hard question! The grade did matter for sure. I climbed my first 8A boulder 2 years ago and I haven't climb 8A+ nor 8B so I had no idea of what would be required to climb 8B+. I guess it was easy to imagine that I had to be climbing at the same level as the women who'd climbed New Base Line before me.
What was the turning point for you that made you decide to try it and commit to the problem?
Before we left to Magic Wood this summer I watched the video of Alex Puccio climbing it and got inspired to try it. We're the same height so I knew that her beta could work for me as well if I was just strong enough. It makes a big difference knowing that someone else your height has done a problem when you're a short climber.
How long/how many sessions did you try the problem over?
I didn't count them, but probably around 15.
You are a medical student. How do you fit in training and trips around your studies?
It's hard and requires a lot of time management and planning. I've had a break from my studies since autumn last year to focus on climbing but during the time I was studying my days would look something like, going to uni, then straight to the gym and then home to eat and sleep. I think the key is to make sure you don't have to cook every day, study effectively and cut down on doing unnecessary things like browsing the internet!
What were some of your big ticks/competition achievements before New Base Line?
I've done a couple of 8A boulders in Switzerland. I competed in the Boulder World Cup this year and learned a lot but result-wise I didn't do very well. The first time I ever competed was in the Swedish nationals last year so my expectations weren't that high.
What's next for you?
I miss studying medicine so I'll go back to study in January. Until then I'm planning to go to Brione and Albarracin. No new projects yet. I think I want to try some "easier" boulders, maybe fill in the gap between 8A and 8B+?
What advice would you give to someone who underestimates their ability compared to a grade or previous ascensionists?
Don't care too much about the grade - except for time and skin, trying a boulder is free. You don't have to be consistent on one grade to try a harder one, I mean, there's a 7A boulder that I've tried multiple times without sending!
Watch the film about Linda climbing 8B+ below: