Two 8A's by Natalie Bärtschi

20 July 2022

Natalie Bärtschi has been on a four week trip to Rocklands ticking almost 30 boulders where the highlights grade-wise were Mintberry Crunch (8A) and Cinquiéme soleil (8A). In the picture, the 28-year-old is doing Pinotage (7B+).

"I was very pleased to find myself in better shape than the years before and finish off some classics like Caroline (7C+) and Pinotage (7C). My personal highlight was climbing Cinquième Soleil (8A) in a single session. It's a comp style dyno with a foot stab into a tricky and committing end which took me a lot more tries than the actual jump. It's rare to find these kinds of moves outside and therefore hard to compare grade-wise but I think the style of this one suited me particularly well. Another one that went down surprisingly quick was Mintberry Crunch (8A) in Echo Valley (near Cape Town), which I had already spent one session on 4 years ago. Definitely not the hardest for its grade but still tricky for me since I was pretty much climbing at full span on the crux moves. My main goal this year was Black Shadow (8A+) which I had already tried on previous trips. I could consistently do it in two parts but unfortunately couldn't quite put it together, so this will have to wait for next time."

What do you think has been the key to being stronger this trip?
Well, it‘s been four years since my last trip and I‘ve been training a lot, mostly for competitions which I think made me a more well-rounded climber in general. In climbing there are so many variables physically and mentally but probably the biggest difference I‘ve noticed is improved finger strength, mostly through continuous hangboarding and climbing on a spray wall (35-45 degree). However, I would still consider finger strength one of my biggest weaknesses, especially when climbing outside. I‘ve also struggled with heel hooks (which are oftentimes crucial, especially in Rocklands) because of some minor knee issues but this year it seems like my legs are finally strong and healthy, never skip leg day I guess 😉 Last but not least, I decided to reduce my workload as a chiropractor and I have been working part-time since last autumn which allows me to put more time into training and climbing in general. Sorry for the long answer but it‘s hard to pinpoint exactly what made the difference, I guess consistency is key!

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