Mina Leslie-Wujastyk talks Mecca Extension F8c and beyond
- Wednesday 15th October 2014
We reported yesterday that Mina Leslie-Wujastyk had just redpointed Mecca Extension F8c at Raven Tor. Mina’s previous hardest redpoint was Mecca itself which she did just over two years ago so her ascent of Mecca Extension is clearly a significant step-up.
Mina is a well-known and well-travelled boulderer but she’s demonstrating that she’s no mean sport climber as well. We’ve thrown some questions her way to dig a little deeper into her ascent and to find out what it takes to redpoint Mecca - not least when another climber had taken a monster flier the day before and hit his head badly enough to knock himself (briefly) unconscious and need excavation by ambulance! Finally, we probe a little into whether she thinks that she and the other top-flight British (female) sport climbers can go harder still and where her journey is heading next…
Mina in the middle of the final difficult link. Photo: Jon Clark
You’re clearly very pleased to have redpointed Mecca Extension. How are you feeling right now?
I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet! Anyone who repoints things at their limit will have had the same experience; when you climb your project, it often feels like it didn’t happen, like maybe it was just a good link! I actually felt really tired afterwards, I think the adrenalin and emotion behind doing it knocked me sideways!
Mina – post send celebrations. Photo: Ethan Walker
Mecca involved something of a sea change away from bouldering. Mecca Extension is another level again so how did you make that step?
I actually used to be more of a sport climber as a teenager so it’s not totally new for me. I never climbed any really hard routes back then but the movement and practice of climbing longer things is there. Also I did a lot of endurance training when I got back from South Africa this summer! Tom Randall well and truly put me through my paces! I think with gaining endurance it’s very much input= output.
Before you did Mecca you had a summer-long bouldering trip to the USA. Before doing Mecca Extension you were out bouldering in South Africa. The old skool mantra is that if you’re strong enough then endurance isn’t going to be an issue. Do you think that hold true for you and is that the driver for the extended bouldering trips away in the UK summer or have you been doing loads of sneaky endurance circuits off-line?
Haha a bit of both! I agree that if you are over-strong for the moves on a route you will be able to do more of them in a row before getting pumped but I think you also need the efficient movement and recovery of a route climber to climb at your best. On this particular route there is a good rest after the first 8b+ section and getting the pump to go away completely so you can climb the top section….well it doesn’t matter how strong you are then! The bouldering trips have their own goals and aren’t really for the route climbing but being bouldering strong definitely helps……and yes, I did a lot of endurance circuits the last few weeks!!
British women are doing better than ever with their climbing and you all support each other really well. Do you think that this is helping push back the envelope?
Yes definitely, there is a really nice vibe at the moment. It would be easy to think that there might be a competitive feel among UK women climbers and maybe there is a bit (if we’re honest) but we are also all friends and it’s the kind of pushing that we all benefit from. I’ve climbed with Katy a lot and I was just as happy when she climbed Mecca last week as when I did my route and I know she was over the moon for me! When you are really good friends, you become very invested in other people’s goals and it’s lovely to share the process.
Do you think that you and your current co-stars can go to F8c+ or F9a or is that going to be a ‘next generation’ thing?
Get back kids, we haven’t got walking sticks yet! Hahaha
Finally, you’d heard about Hadyn Jones’s fall before you redpointed ME. It’s obviously great to hear that Hadyn is obviously on the road to recovery but did that pray on your mind at all or were you just totally focused?
Um, I heard about it the night before actually and it did shake me up a bit. For those that don’t know the route, there is quite a run out at the top where most people (maybe excluding only Steve McClure) miss a clip because it is too hard to stop and clip it. The fall off the top crux is pretty big and hearing that Haydn had fallen, inverted, hit his head badly and was in hospital was pretty unnerving. Having said that, I had already taken the fall a few times and it didn’t actually feel that bad…perhaps Haydn was just a bit unlucky? I kind of just got into repoint mode and blocked it out, I completely trust Ethan belaying me and knew that he would give me a “soft catch” so I ploughed on….but didn’t have to take it again luckily!
Would you like to share your next target with us?
I am still really keen for UK sport climbing for the rest of the autumn, and then I’ll be going to Red Rocks to switch back to bouldering again for a bit before Xmas! Then I reckon more UK sport climbing in the spring….I think I might be converting……
Mina is sponsored by Arc'teryx, Five Ten, Organic Pads, element Chiropractic, Pulsin, Beta Climbing Designs and DMM. She has also been a member of the British Bouldering Team, who are supported by the BMC, until recently although she’s now a BMC Vice President.
Thanks also to both Jon Clark and Ethan Walker for the photos.