La Rubia 8c+ by Bronwyn Hodgins

© Julia Cassou

Canadian climber Bronwyn Hodgins has ticked her first 8c+ with an ascent of La Rubia (8c+) at Villanueva del Rosario in southern Spain.

Bronwyn Hodgins ticks her first 8c+.  © Julia Cassou
Bronwyn Hodgins ticks her first 8c+.
© Julia Cassou

Better known for her big wall free climbing and remote first ascents, Bron's venture into long-term sport projecting was catalysed by a period of post-expedition fatigue after three back-to-back big wall expeditions in 2022.

Feeling burnt-out from expedition stress and logistical planning, Bron travelled Spain to climb some tufas and improve her Spanish. During her trip, she wondered how hard she might be able to sport climb with a more structured approach.

'Bron' chose the line as a project 11 months ago, when she began a dedicated training program to help her achieve her goal. She split her time between eight months of training at home, and two-and-half-months of specific training on the line itself after moving to southern Spain. 

'It was hugely intimidating arriving at La Rubia, having only climbed one 8b+ and a handful of 8bs,' she told UKC. 'I definitely felt like maybe I had dreamed a little too big this time!  But over the course of the season I slowly ticked away at more manageable chunks of the route until I was finally able to put it all together.' 

La Rubia is a 55m route with steep, tufa-ridden terrain.  © Julia Cassou
La Rubia is a 55m route with steep, tufa-ridden terrain.
© Julia Cassou

Despite having achieved two free-climbs of Freerider (5.13a) and Golden Gate (5.13a) (UKC News) on El Capitan, a new free route on Mt. Asgard on Baffin Island, multiple new lines in Greenland (UKC Article) and remote big wall ascents around the world in recent years, Bron faced a different challenge in sport redpointing.

'The mental aspect was really tough,' she said. 'I felt like I had some of the tools from big wall free-climbing, such as performing well under pressure and sequence visualisation and execution, but I had no experience in sticking with a project for anywhere near this long. At the same time, I continued to make progress pretty much every time I tied in, which was super motivating.' 

La Rubia is a steep, 55m long route with many knee-bar rests in the top half, which 'also gives a lot of opportunity to overthink things and get nervous,' Bron said. Having reached a highpoint just below the chains, she changed her approach on the successful attempt.

'On the send go, I climbed super smoothly and faster-than-ever all the way up to the final bolt (where I'd fallen on my last attempt a few days earlier,' Bron said. 'I tactically skipped the final knee bar so that I didn't interrupt my mental flow and launched myself with all I had left for the big move just next to the chains. I still can't believe my fingers latched onto that hold!'

Bron has some downtime before setting her next big climbing goal. She said:

'After quite an intense 11 months focusing on this project, I'm definitely taking a break first! Friends of mine in England are organising a week-long dance festival in a castle this coming week. The dates could not have lined up more perfectly, I can't wait! Looking a little further ahead, the next big project for me is "Rock and Rise," a climbing festival for women and people of expansive genders which myself and three friends are organising for early July in Squamish, Canada.

'Overall, I'm thrilled with my improvement as a climber over the past year – I'm noticeably much stronger, especially with powerful movements. I'm super excited to take what I have gained and apply this to some trad and big wall projects in the coming years. This has certainly opened up a lot of doors for what might be possible for me and that is super exciting and motivating.'

Bron and filmmaker Julia Cassou will also be releasing a film following the process of La Rubia this summer.

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Bronwyn is a professional rock climber and guide, based in Squamish, Canada. Originally from rural Ontario, Bronwyn grew up canoeing, hiking and skiing with her family. In just eight years, she has climbed 8a+ sport and...

Bronwyn's Athlete Page 12 posts 1 video

5 Mar

Strong Bron!

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