On July 8, 21-year-old Anna Taylor climbed her second-ever E8, Disorderly Conduct in the Lake District. Leo Houlding commented: "Good job Anna. I think that's the only route at Reecastle I haven't done... the hardest one!" Anna has been ticking off loads of E6s and E7s this year, confirming her as one to watch. On July 4 she put up a new route, Priceless, E7 6b, at Thang Crag in Langdale. Sarah Stirling finds out more about her.
Anna Taylor started climbing age 10. Comps didn't really suit her, and she quit the sport in her teens for a while before getting into outdoor bouldering age 17. At 19, on a family holiday, she discovered she had a taste for hard trad and hasn't looked back.
Anna has lived in the Lake District all her life and works as a route-setter at Kendal Wall. She doesn't train specifically but does boulder a lot and tries to do a board session and some circuits at least once a week.
AT: Why Disorderly Conduct? To be honest, I just wanted to try hard on a route and it has a short walk-in! I was lucky though - once I got on it I realised it suited me fairly well: the hard section is run-out on tiny but positive crimps.
I headpointed it quite quickly: I'd only had a quick go on the moves a couple of days before I lead it. I was surprised by how smoothly the lead went. I climbed up to place the crucial gear, reversed to the ground for a rest, then went for it. Before I knew it I was at the rest jug and could just enjoy the easy and well-protected climbing to the top.
WATCH Anna climbing her new route, Priceless E7 6b at Thrang Crag, on July 4 this year:
I got hooked on being in a position where I couldn't really fall off on a family holiday in Scotland a few years ago. I was 19 and I soloed an E3. A few months later I soloed my first E7. I was seriously inexperienced with actual trad gear at the time.
There's something exciting in knowing that you can't make a mistake. I think it's something to do with having to climb these hard trad routes absolutely perfectly, with no room for error that draws me to them.
The first hard trad route I lead using gear was The Devils Alternative, an E6 6b at Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale. I think the gear on the route is actually quite good. My first placement must've been decent as it caught me when I slipped off and fell due to a wet foothold on my first go.
I think the gear I put in after that was a bit less desirable though. I went straight past the last piece and found myself feeling pretty run-out and spooked by the time I'd got to the top, which was also wet. Thankfully I've learnt a bit more about placing gear since then.
WATCH Neil Gresham asks Anna: how do you know when the moment is right to climb a bold trad route?
I think that the ability to switch off your brain in dangerous situations is something that only comes with experience. I don't think about much when I'm climbing, usually only what I need to do next to get to the top.
I've learnt that if I'm thinking too much then something's not right and I probably shouldn't be there. On bold routes you should be scared of falling, as it often has serious consequences. I think it helps to just keep breathing, take one move at a time, and focus on the task ahead of you. If you're thinking more about falling than climbing, then you'll probably fall.
I'm a slab climber. I'm not the strongest or the fittest climber out there, but I can balance quite well! I really enjoy the movement of slab climbing as you have to be really slow and precise, but also really confident. I'm slowly coming round to the idea of climbing some steeper stuff, but I still prefer slabs if possible.
This year I'm going to travel around and try lots of different things. I'm quite excited for the grit season, as I was injured last year and couldn't get much done. I've also got a couple of trips abroad coming up, which I'm really looking forward to.
Anna on the Peat Bog Fairie (E6 6b). Photo: @marksavagephotography
Anna's favourite places to climb
The Lakes is my home, and while it's famous for its mountain crags it's got a bit of everything. There's the big scary mountain crags, but there's also plenty of shorter, more technical walls that can be very bold and hard in their own right. There's some granite in Eskdale, and there's also a bit of slate, with routes up to 8a. I stared head-pointing on a sandstone crag called Armathwaite, which is more similar to gritstone climbing than anything else. You can't say we haven't got variety!
Scotland is probably my favourite place in the world. While I've spent a lot of time there as a child and done a fair bit of bouldering, I've hardly sampled any of the harder climbing on offer. I spent an afternoon in Glen Nevis on the way back from a family holiday in Torridon recently, but I'd love to go back on a proper climbing trip and really get to know the area.
North Wales is another place I love. Home to super-classics like Left Wall and Comes The Dervish. There's also a lot of quality hard climbing. I love the slate quarries as it's another place where strength hardly seems to matter and it's all on your feet. Climbing My Halo (E7) without the half-height bolt was something I'd wanted to do for a long time, and getting it done a few months ago has definitely been a highlight of this year for me.
I love gritstone as it's such an unusual style of climbing. Short, bold routes that rely almost totally on balance and body position over strength. Obsession Fatale (E8) at the Roaches was a classic example. At the time I couldn't climb 6a indoors due to a finger injury, but it didn't matter on Obsession at all.
Watch this space...
Anna's 2019 climbing spree
Lake District climbs
8 July, Disorderly Conduct E8 6c, lead, Reecastle Crag, Cumbria
26 June, Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow E5 6b, solo onsight, Hare Crags, Cumbria
27 May, Right Hare, Right Now E7 6c, lead, Hare Crags, Cumbria
22 May, Scrogbank Ravers E7 6c, lead, White Mines, Rusty Wall, Cumbria
20 May, No Nuts (Just Balls) E7 6b solo, Harrop Tarn Crag, Cumbria
4 May, Relentless Rage E7 6a, lead, Gouther Crags, Cumbria
29 April, Hang the Gallows High E6 6b, lead, Black Crag (Wrynose), Cumbria
17 April, Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid E6 6b, lead, Tilberthwaite Quarry, Cumbria
21 April, Big Tree Corner, E1 5b, lead, Tilberthwaite Quarry, Cumbria
Notable climbs from trips away
22 June, Bad Life Choices E7 6b solo, Polldubh Crags, Glen Nevis
17 May, My Halo E7 6b, lead, Serengeti, North Wales slate
13 April, Nosferatu E6 6b, lead, Burbage South, Peak District
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