29 October 2020
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Mountain girl blog: I Did It!

July 15, 2014
Sophie-Nicolson-1
Three years ago I set out with a goal to climb 6a but that rather marvellous thing called life has often got in the way.
Sophie-Nicolson-1
Living in the Alps offers up such an enormous host of activities that it has seemed a shame to commit to just one sport, so over the past few years I have found myself becoming the proverbial Jack of All and Master of None!
I have continued to climb sporadically and as a result progression has been stuttering at best. I’ve often found myself distracted by other activities such as hiking, road biking, ski touring and latterly mountain running. Combine all this with a shoulder injury and attempting to carve out a career as an adventure sports communications specialist/journalist and let’s just say, I’ve been busy!
When I finally led my first 6a last week, it was actually a bit of a surprise to be honest. There was no real build up because I’d not been focusing that much on climbing – on reflection, probably no bad thing. Rather than trying to progress my single pitch grade, I’ve been focusing more on learning the systems in climbing in order to become more independent on the rock.
I’ve done a few multi pitch climbs of late, swapping the lead with man friend, taking control at the sharp end and learning heaps. The goal has been more about being able to head off and do long easy routes in the high mountains rather than spending hours sitting at the bottom of a crag in the shade, chalking up and getting frustrated.
The day itself was sunny, hot and humid. Having spent the morning thrashing about rather ungracefully on some steep routes at a local crag I decided that I really wanted to end my day on a slightly more positive note so we moved to a crag more suited to my style of climbing – i.e. delicate slab with no big thuggy moves! I glanced at the guidebook, took a look at a 6a route and just went for it.
In the end, it was no big deal. No fireworks, no high fives. I have led 5’s that were harder to be honest. I don’t think the route was necessarily easy for the grade, it was just that it was quite suited to me and the kind of rock I like to climb. Small holds, balancey moves and a lot of trusting of feet required. I led it, smiled, felt good and went home for a beer.
So what now? Well I’ve led another couple of 6a’s since, am feeling more and more comfortable on the rock and committed to making sure this summer is about climbing and only one other sport – mountain running! The plan is to head to the Verdon Gorge in the South of France in September to do some of the legendary long, multi pitch routes which will require being fast, confident, comfortable and able to improvise when required. I am far more excited about the world that is opening up than I am about having ticked a list. Sure it feels good but what comes next will be even better.
Will keep you posted….

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About Sophie’s blog

Mountain Girl is passionate about the vertical wilderness, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, hiking, trail running, biking, and rock climbing. Oh and Prosecco - she really likes Prosecco.

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