Flip Flopera 8B for Shauna CoxseyInterview

© Benjamin Cannon (@benjamincannonclimber)

Just over a year after giving birth, and six months after double knee surgery, Shauna Coxsey has made the second female ascent of Flip Flopera (f8B) at The Bowderstone in the Lake District.

Whilst Shauna has previously climbed 8B+, as well as four other 8B boulders, her ascent of Flip Flopera marks the first time that she has climbed 8B since both having a child and going through double knee surgery.

The ascent is thought to be the hardest boulder ascent ever after having given birth.

Shauna at Woodwell, Lancashire  © Benjamin Cannon (@benjamincannonclimber)
Shauna at Woodwell, Lancashire
© Benjamin Cannon (@benjamincannonclimber)

The first two moves of the overhanging boulder are the crux. First, a fingery pull-on into a three finger sidepull notch, and second - after a series of difficult foot moves - a big move out right into the starting holds of Grand Opera (f7C+)

First climbed by Dan Varian, Flip Flopera has seen ascents from some of the UK's strongest climbers, including Will Bosi, Jack Palmieri, and Molly Thompson-Smith.

We got in touch with Shauna to find out more.

Congratulations on climbing Flip Flopera! A lot has changed since the last time you climbed 8B, a series of knee surgeries, as well as the birth of your child, Frankie. How does it feel to be climbing back up in the higher grades after so many life-changing events?

It feels so good! I guess I never really knew what to expect from my climbing during my postpartum journey. I knew I really wanted to be pushing into the hard grades again, but I had no idea what my recovery from pregnancy and birth would be like, plus having double knee surgery when Frankie was 6 months old.

I am so amazed by what our bodies are capable of, and I am incredibly grateful to those who have supported me!

From some of your recent instagram posts, you seem to be ticking off projects now that had never seemed possible previously, do you feel like you're close to being 'back to your best'?

It's funny, because in some ways I feel so far away from the athlete I was pre-pregnancy, but then in others I feel way stronger and more capable. I am not looking to get back to my previous best, but become my best, which feels different but right. 

Had you tried Flip Flopera before? If so, how did your experience on it compare to this time around?

I had not tried Flip Flopera before this trip. I have felt the holds a few times in the past and thought it was crazy. I had no idea how people held onto such terrible tiny crimps.

Then I actually did the sit start in a couple of goes and finished up Impropa Opera (f7C) which gets 8A+ - Impropa Flip Flopera (f8A+) - a few days earlier. Then when we went back I figured I'd try the 8B. 

Did you have any specific goals for this recent trip?

This recent trip was to search for some of the best 7th grade boulders in the UK for an upcoming series on my YouTube channel. For this northern leg, we started in Northumberland, then headed to Scotland, and finished in the Lake District.

Shauna on A Fridge too Far, 7C+, at Torridon  © Ryan Balharry (@ryan_balharry)
Shauna on A Fridge too Far, 7C+, at Torridon
© Ryan Balharry (@ryan_balharry)

What does a 'day out bouldering' look like when you have a one year old?

Ha! A great question! It depends on the day. Frankie is very familiar with crag days and she loves being outside, but it still takes a fair bit of planning. We carry her in her sling or backpack, and take lots of toys and snacks. She loves to try and climb on all the little boulders around, and make friends with everyone at the crag. 

What is the best part about going out climbing with Frankie?

That she loves it. Her eyes sparkle when she's outdoors. She really enjoys zooming about in the dirt, playing with rocks and even loves brushing the holds which is a bonus!

What has been the hardest thing to 'rediscover' after having a child? Has it been an aspect of physical strength, motivation, getting into the right headspace on hard climbs? 

I would say the hardest thing has been patience. Giving myself the time and space to learn and connect with where I'm at has been really hard. 

Shauna at Woodwell, Lancashire  © Benjamin Cannon (@benjamincannonclimber)
Shauna at Woodwell, Lancashire
© Benjamin Cannon (@benjamincannonclimber)

Do you have any bouldering goals for the near future that you're willing to share?

I have so many! But right now I am focused on finishing the 50 of the best 7's project. Shooting this project has really helped me learn to be a rock climber again, and also helped us learn how to balance family life and climbing life. I am really excited to share the content and connect with the climbing community more! 

Finally, what inspires you most about climbing right now?

Personally, for my own climbing, that I have no idea what I am capable of!

Shauna on A Fridge too Far, 7C+, at Torridon  © Ryan Balharry (@ryan_balharry)
Shauna on A Fridge too Far, 7C+, at Torridon
© Ryan Balharry (@ryan_balharry)

Keep an eye on Shauna's YouTube channel, where her series focusing on the Fifty best 7th grade boulders will be coming soon.

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Overall 1st place in the 2016 and 2017 IFSC Bouldering World Cup. Appointed MBE in 2016. Britain's first Sport Climbing athlete in Tokyo 2020.

Shauna's Athlete Page 77 posts 16 videos

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30 May

Inspirational stuff! Lovely to see

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