Earlier this month, we reported on Katie Lamb becoming the first woman to boulder 8C+ when she made the fourth ascent of Box Therapy in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Having climbed five boulders at 8B+, as well as an 8B+ variation of Spectre, Katie skipped 8C to break new ground in women's bouldering for the first time since 2016, when Ashima Shiraishi climbed Horizon, 8C.
We sent Katie some questions to find out more.
Congratulations on climbing Box Therapy, and on being the first woman to break into V16/8C+! I'm sure the last couple of days have been a bit of a whirlwind - how has it been, and how does it feel?
The response has been a little overwhelming but it's great to see that people are genuinely excited and happy for me. I think that's pretty rare. Many people have told me that they feel inspired in their own climbing, which is always what I hope for when sharing about my climbing.
In some ways I wasn't expecting it to elicit the response that it did because I did it in July and also have felt like I've been at this level for a while, so it feels like more of a slow build for me.
You've spoken previously about being very single-minded when it comes to your bouldering objectives - when did Box Therapy first become a boulder you were determined to climb, and what was it about the boulder that made you choose it?
At the time that Daniel did the FA it was one of the only boulders of that grade in that style (and still is), and in my opinion it's one of the best hard boulder problems in the world.
I think it was an obvious objective for me because the style fits me really well and it was something that I knew I would put time into at some point. I've already done a lot of the boulders that I want to do in Colorado, and was there for the whole summer, so it felt like the right time to try.
When was your first session on the boulder, and how did it go?
It was mid or late June and the boulder was still mostly under snow. So the first session was a lot of shoveling and trying to stay dry. I think I did all the moves but didn't really make any links.
What was the crux for you?
There isn't really a crux move - the boulder is pretty consistent with every move being equally difficult. From the bottom, the redpoint crux is probably the first move of the stand.
How do you go about projecting boulders that are at, or near, your limit? Were there any big breakthrough moments when projecting Box Therapy?
I try to look for small signs of progress, because the breakthroughs are usually not big. Even on sessions where I may regress, I try to focus on something that I learned, or a small goal that I know I can achieve.
I made pretty steady progress on Box Therapy, and I think most breakthroughs were just a result of my fingers getting stronger throughout the summer and thinking about and experimenting with moves in different ways.
Did you speak to Daniel, Drew, Sean - or anyone else! - about the boulder at all while working it?
Not really, I just watched their videos. I was trying it with a few other people and we were able to work out beta and bounce ideas off each other.
Talk us through the successful attempt!
I went out alone that day and did a good job managing expectations. I wanted to try from the bottom until I stopped making progress, and then work on some bigger links. I felt pretty good warming up and then ended up doing it on my second try that day.
For those of us who haven't been there - probably most of our readers! - can you describe Box Lake and the surroundings?
The boulder sits in a meadow, downhill from a larger talus field, and is in a small basin that's extremely lush throughout the summer. Box Lake is about a two minute walk from the boulder and is very quiet and beautiful. It's one of a few alpine lakes nearby.
The boulder sits at 10,400 feet elevation - how did this affect your experience on the boulder, and did you have to do anything to alleviate the effects of the elevation?
I was living in Boulder, CO for the summer, which is at about 5,500 feet. It only takes me a couple days to acclimate and I was also climbing at higher areas, so I didn't feel the elevation at Box.
Putting the successful attempt aside, what are you favourite memories from your time working on Box Therapy?
It was great to spend a lot of time outside with friends and we had some great conversations while hiking. It's fun to have really extreme days sometimes, and then follow that up with some chiller days.
Finally, having climbed Box Therapy, are there any other boulders that previously felt out of reach that you now really want to try?
There are still more than a lifetime's worth of boulders that I want to try and do. I don't feel any different about my physical ability to do them, I think it's more about the time I have and my priorities moving forward.