Fat Lip 8B for Tara Hayes

© Tara Hayes

Tara Hayes has made the second female ascent of Fat Lip (f8B), at Raven Tor (Miller's Dale), in Derbyshire.

The ascent is Tara's first at 8B, making her just the fifth British woman to climb the grade. 

We got in touch with Tara to congratulate her, and to find out more about how the ascent came together.

Congratulations on climbing Fat Lip 8B, your first boulder at the grade! It sounds like this one had been on the cards for a while, how does it feel to have ticked it off?

Thanks! Yeah I've felt close to linking it on a few previous sessions but never quite made it happen, so it feels great to get it done. Bouldering 8B was also one of my main goals in climbing, despite mostly focusing on comps up to this point, so it actually means a lot and I'm really happy to have achieved it.

When did you first start working the boulder, and how many sessions did you spend on it in total?

I first tried Fat Lip back in May this year to see if it would be possible as a project close to home. I think in total it took between eight and ten sessions, although I injured my finger on the pocket on my fourth session, so had a forced four month break in the middle. Luckily it didn't take too many sessions to get reacquainted.

Tara climbing Back to Black (f8A) during her forced break from Fat Lip.

How did you go about projecting the boulder? Did the fact that it was harder than anything you'd climbed previously make the process different to how you've projected boulders before, or was it pretty similar?

I'd say the physical process I went through was fairly similar to previous projects I'd had, but my mental approach was very different.

I knew it would take a lot more work than anything else I'd tried, so I was definitely more open minded and didn't have any expectations to begin with. I often get bored projecting and lose motivation and belief, but my progress was actually quite linear so it was easy to stay psyched.

I knew that I had to feel strong on the day for the full link, so if I went for a session and didn't feel great, I would do repeats on the end section to build up fitness and get used to executing it whilst I was tired. That's something that I've never done on a previous project but was actually very useful!

You recently spent some time out in Rocklands, where it sounded like you had a really successful trip, climbing more than twenty boulders between 7C and 8A! Do you feel like getting the volume in at these slightly lower (but still very hard!) grades helped you on Fat Lip?

Yeah Rocklands was great thanks and I really enjoyed getting lots of mileage in!

Tara on Eye of Sauron, 7C+  © Billy Ridal
Tara on Eye of Sauron, 7C+
© Billy Ridal

I think potentially doing a high volume out there could have helped my capacity, although being a route setter means I often do a lot of moves in a testing session without much rest, so I'd say my capacity for volume is quite good in general anyway.

I think this allowed me to have longer sessions on Fat Lip with higher quality attempts, although I've been training my long boulder fitness separately as well for the full link. 

As you say, Fat Lip is quite a long boulder! Which part of it did you find the most challenging?

To begin with the crux for me was the big move off the pocket, as it's definitely not my preferred grip type. Once I got more confident on that hold and refined the move, it was mostly the sustained nature of the whole climb that made the link hard, rather than any move in particular.

You looked so strong during the successful attempt, talk us through it!

Thanks! I was surprised how smoothly it went to be honest!

I wasn't having a great session before that attempt actually, the second half of the climb was feeling easy but I was struggling on the first heel bump moves which normally felt fine for me, so that was quite frustrating. I spent a bit of time re-learning that section, then decided to go from the start again.

I think I didn't have a lot of expectation as I pulled on, so I just climbed naturally and didn't overthink it. I'd done the moves so many times that I sort of went into a flow state and just tried hard towards the end when I needed to!

Finishing a project can sometimes leave you in a bit of a limbo - do you already know what's next, or are you waiting for inspiration to strike?

I have a trip to Albarracin soon so I'm just psyched to get some mileage in there and just try whatever looks fun. Other than that, I have a couple of other projects in the UK already and I'm sure I'll have plenty to go at on the grit over the winter. 

Finally, what is it about climbing that gives you the most joy at the moment?

I really enjoy the combination of trying hard and figuring out the subtleties of moves until they feel instinctive.

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Tara Hayes

Tara has competed at a high level for many years and consistently climbed Font 8A on rock.

Her top ascents include Nutsa and The Hatchling in Rocklands, as well as Foxy Lady and Never Ending Story Part 2 in Magic...

Tara's Athlete Page 6 posts 1 video

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