Souvenirs du pic by Théo Blass (10)

Friday, 12 June

Théo Blass has done Souvenirs du pic 8c in Saint Guilhem le Desertin. Last summer Theo toproped a variation of the route (combining an easier start with the second half) graded 8b. This year he worked on the lower section for about 7-8 sessions. The not yet 140 cm tall is the youngest climber ever to have reached 8c. Picture by his father Vladimir Arnaoudov who gives us the amazing story.

"Theo started climbing more regularly when he was 8 (he was climbing before, but quite irregularly). His progression was quite interesting: it took him a few months of projecting to send his first 6b+ (on top rope) and then he progressed from 6b+ to 8b in less than a year and a half. His training is a bit chaotic and highly dependent on motivation, time of the year and availability of other more fun activities (such as mountain biking, skiing or building a shack in the garden). At the beginning of the lockdown he trained a lot at our small home bouldering wall but then he lost motivation and did not train for a month.

From the dad's perspective, there are two key takeaways from the experience of belaying, watching, encouraging, counseling, supporting and occasionally arguing with Theo about beta: (1) adult grades are a bit of a nonsense when it comes to kids - two of the hardest moves on the route for Theo are among the easiest for adults - so not worth getting too excited about grades (especially when you are under 1m40); (2) even if fear, frustration and failure are part of the game, climbing kids of the world, enjoy every moment of climbing, projecting, trying hard, sending and try to have fun, and confidence - the future belongs to you."

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