Nathan Phillips, reigning British Bouldering Champion and member of the GB Climbing Team, has just climbed Gecko assis, a classic 8B+ boulder in Rocher de Boligny, Fontainebleau. It's his second of the grade and, amazingly, Nathan reckons it wasn't even at his limit.
It's been flashed by Adam Ondra and Charles Albert has downclimbed it barefoot, but Gecko assis remains one of the classic hard boulder problems in Font and one that Nathan Phillips considered a life goal to climb. After an epic sending spree in Switzerland, where Nathan made short work of a number of classic 8Bs and a slew of 8a/+s and below, he followed the weather to arrive in the forest with the aim to try hard and climb with a psyched crew including other Brit crushers Billy Ridal and Orrin Coley.
Having polished off Traphouse and Gourmandise, 8B/+ and 8B, respectively, in double-quick time, he revisited the Gecko boulder to see if the sit moves would go this trip. A tough morning had his hopes down, but to his surprise, things started looking up. We asked Nathan a few questions to find out a bit more:
Congrats on climbing Gecko assis! You must be pretty excited about it?
How long has it been on your radar for?
It’s a dream boulder really. I did the stand a few years back and tried the sit moves briefly afterwards with the intent of coming back to finish it off.
Is it ‘your style’ or more of a lifetime goal to climb Gecko?
I’m not sure that I have a style. I’ve always thought of myself as quite well rounded, not the best at any particular style but being fairly good at most styles. If I feel I’m weaker in one area I try to work on it until I’m no longer weaker in that area. Having said that, I don’t really like heel hooks and this boulder has a lot of them...
Did it feel tough on the day or do you think you can climb harder?
The session actually started out pretty badly on the day of the send. Not feeling that great and giving myself a large blood blister on my finger where you hold the crux pinch. But then my friends showed up and out of nowhere I started making big links, and shortly after put it all together.
It is possibly the hardest thing I’ve climbed but it didn’t actually feel close to my limit which is promising.
It’s your second of the grade 8B+ right?
Yeah, my first was Mystic Stylez in Magic Wood, Switzerland a few years back. I also climbed Traphouse this week but it’s more 8B or 8B/+ in my opinion.
Do you think you’ll try and consolidate the grade or maybe try an 8C next? Any ideas on what bloc you’d like to try or that might suit your style?
It’s obviously nice to be able to say you’ve climbed that grade or whatever, but I just like trying hard moves no matter the grade. If I find it hard then I want to try it. I have tried “Monkey Wedding” (8C) in Rocklands, South Africa, a little and that would for sure go if I put the time into it, but there are so many good boulders out there it’s hard to stay focused on one thing.
You were just in Switzerland and now Font – are you in the middle of a big climbing trip? Or are you always in the middle of a big climbing trip?
Haha, I wish that was the case... I made a two-and-a-half week gap in between working to go somewhere in Europe. I just checked the forecast and followed the sun. I had a great time in Brione, Switzerland, last week and it’s been a great one here in Font. Unfortunately I’m back at work on Monday and then it’s back into training mode for next year’s World Cups.
Any big plans for next year?
I have plans yes, but nothing certain yet.
Who do you think will be the biggest competition at the British Bouldering Champs 2019?
Matt Cousins and Dave Barrans are always the toughest competition in the UK. The three of us are really good friends and we love some friendly competition.
Good luck with your training and have a festive holiday. Can’t wait to see what you crush next!
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