28 September 2021

Open Box 7c+ by Irmgard Braun (69)

Irmgard Braun has set a new standard for 69-year-old women by doing Open Box 7c+ in Gorges du Tarn. The German author started climbing in the 80'ies and was later part of the German national team.

"Don't believe you are too old to improve! It took me six days to check out the moves and I sent it on day seven. I am not ascetic and not a training beast. But I am an enthusiastic climber and like testing my limits. And I am very grateful my body doesn't grumble when I am trying hard. I want to motivate other senior climbers to project routes - they will discover they can do a lot more than they ever believed. Even if there is no send, the process is fascinating: what seemed impossible in the beginning becomes climbable after several tries - and makes you stronger. For old climbers with bad knees or other niggles, bouldering with a rope is better than bouldering and jumping down. Come on, it’s fun!"

How much and how do you train?
When not on a climbing trip, I climb 2-3 times a weak, do stretching 2 times/weak and 1/weak core/ antagonists (about 1 hour). In winter I usually have 8 weeks of training for raw power (fingers and upper body) and do not climb. It seems to help, I can hang on the smallest crimp of the Lopez training board.

What are the hardest routes you have done before?
I have climbed 7c/7c+ when I was about 50. After I had several injuries and was busy with my job - journalist and author of crime stories about climbing. In those days I climbed max 7a (sometimes onsight). When I was 65, I had a broken wrist, a complicated operation and after this, I could not even lift a pan. But I did not want to become a sometimes a 6a-slab-climber, so I set the goal to climb 7c again and started to do projects. I was successful: One year later, when I was 66, I did two 7c's.

What about going for an 8a?
8a seems very far away – but if I discover a very beautiful looking climb that fits my strengths, I might have a look at it next year.
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