True North 8c for Anna WildInterview

© Marsha Balaeva

Last month, we asked Anna Wild what her goals for the year were. Whilst she wasn't sure yet whether to spend her summer in the UK or spend some time elsewhere, her goals for UK climbing were clearly set.

'If I end up staying here over summer I would like to try and do an 8c, True North (8c) is one that I've had my eye on for a while and I've done Full Tilt (8b) so just need to get the top section dialled'.

33 days later, Anna's aspirations of climbing 8c were fulfilled.

Anna Wild on True North, 8c, at Kilnsey  © Marsha Balaeva
Anna Wild on True North, 8c, at Kilnsey
© Marsha Balaeva

On the 13th June, after ten sessions on the route, Anna made the first female ascent of True North 8c at Kilnsey, her favourite crag (and one that could be yours for just £150,000).

We caught up with Anna to find out more.

Congratulations on climbing True North 8c! Last time we spoke you mentioned this was a big goal for you, has it sunk in yet?

Thank you! Yes, it was the main route I wanted to try this year, but I wasn't sure whether it was too ambitious of a goal or not as I didn't know how hard it would be to link all the climbing.

After I finished uni in May, I ended up having lots of time to climb so it was nice being able to prioritise climbing for a bit. I think fairly quickly I realised I could definitely do it this year, as I got to the last couple of hard moves from the ground very quickly. But then I kept falling there for a few sessions which made me doubt myself, and I started worrying that I didn't have enough endurance to do it and that I'd keep falling in the same place.

I was very happy when I did it last week but I definitely enjoy the process of redpointing a climb a lot, so - although I feel very happy to have done it - I already miss trying it!

What is it about True North that made it the route that you wanted to climb?

I guess it seemed logical after doing Full Tilt, and I'd heard people say how good it was and people had recommended it to me.

I had two sessions on it last year and really liked the moves, and then couldn't wait to get back and try it this year. I wanted to try something that was right at my limit, which I think True North was. I also wanted to try an 8c that wasn't questionable at the grade and I'd heard a lot of people say it was a solid 8c.

Anna on her first 8b route, Predator at Malham, back in 2022 &copy Marsha Balaeva  © MarshaBalaeva
Anna on her first 8b route, Predator at Malham, back in 2022 © Marsha Balaeva

How long did you spend on the route in total?

I think it was around ten sessions. True North has been fairly busy this year, so it was nice trying it with other people - Alex, Haydn, and Gordon had all done it in the week or two before me.

Talk us through the successful attempt!

I was worried that it was getting too hot so conditions would be too bad, and I was also concerned that it would get wet soon, so it was definitely on my mind that even though I was so close, I might have to wait a while for good conditions.

However, I'd tried it a few days before when it was over 25 degrees and it wasn't actually that bad. It was very hot the day I did it, but the first redpoint of the day felt like my closest go yet: I fell with my hand on the jug of the last hard move.

This definitely frustrated me as I felt like I should've done it that go, and the pressure was getting to me a bit, which was making me feel more nervous than usual and more annoyed when I fell off. Usually I think I climb well on redpoint as I am very good at not caring too much about whether I fall off or not, which makes me really enjoy the climbing.

The next go was the go I did it, which made me feel silly for feeling so annoyed the go before! After all, I had been improving each session I tried it so there wasn't really any reason to feel worried that I wouldn't do it eventually.

How did the step up from 8b+ feel in terms of difficulty?

Definitely pretty big! I guess when it is at your limit the step up feels more noticeable.

Anna Wild on The Great Escape 8b+ at Malham  © Marsha Balaeva
Anna Wild on The Great Escape 8b+ at Malham
© Marsha Balaeva

Both this ascent and your ascent of The Great Escape (8b+) have been 'first female ascents', I've spoken to some female climbers who love getting FFAs and see it as part of expanding what other female climbers might perceive as possible for them, and others who prefer not to focus on that aspect of their climbing achievements. Did being the first woman to climb True North feature at all in your motivation for the route, or was it completely irrelevant for you?

Irrelevant to me, I think!

To me, climbing outside, I don't think about that sort of thing as men and women aren't separated like they are in comps, so it feels like it doesn't matter whether it's the first female ascent or not.

Although, because it is my first of the grade it does also feel cool that I am the first woman to do it. But just like "oh cool" rather than it being a big part of it.

It feels like it was only yesterday when I last asked you this question, but - what's next for you?

I'd quite like to improve my onsighting ability. Next month I am going to Céüse for a few weeks and then to Flatanger, so this will be a good opportunity to do that. I'd also like to do some more shorter projects that take just a few sessions.

I think trying True North has given me better endurance than I have ever had, so it will be good going on a trip with such good fitness.

A climber makes their way up a route at the renowned Biographie sector.   © angushawkins
A climber makes their way up a route at the renowned Biographie sector.
© angushawkins, May 2022

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22 Jun

Great effort. A strong friend of mine said he thought the upper bit of this pretty reachy. One of the most classic hard routes in Yorkshire. Jealous

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