The first female ascent of an 8B+ boulder starring Tomoko Ogawa
We’ve been waiting long enough and here it is… first female ascent of bouldering 8B+ difficulty! It was obvious that sooner or later one of the top female boulderers would reach for such difficulties. The remaining question was which one of them? Some bet on rock master Alex Puccio, others on unbeatable competitor Anna Stöhr. In the game there was also super talented British Shauna Coxsey and unpredictable Angie Payne. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the first female 8B+ ascent was made by young Ashima Shiraishi. Meanwhile, to everyone’s astonishment, the victor’s palm fell to rather unknown to wider climbing audience, Tomoko Ogawa, who few days ago sent Dai Koyamada’s Catharsis in Shiobara. The 34-year-old Japanese spent the last three years trying to get through with this demanding roof problem. Previously, on her list there were only two boulders graded 8A+ (Dai Koyamada’s Karamba and Yuji Hirayama’s Mutante) as well as several 8As. As far as we know, to date Catharsis was repeated only by Daniel Woods, who managed to send the boulder in his second go and confirmed the grade, describing the problem as follows: „Amazing roof climb, my style of climbing. Direct horizontal power climbing on pockets!”. Check out the movie of this historical ascent.
Tomoko Ogawa on Catharsis (photo: Nagao)
Now as the ice has been broken, seems like another female ascent on that level is only the matter of time. Among the candidates who already sent some 8B boulders are 11-year-old Ashima Shiraishi (Steady Plums direct, Crown of Aragon, Fragile Steps), Angie Payne (The Automator), Anna Stöhr (The Riverbed), Dorothea Karalus (Fragile Steps). The other female boulderer also deserving her place in this exclusive women’s 8B club is Austrian Barbara Zangerl, who was definitely the one who pushed the grade considerably higher for the first time in the history of the sport by making the ascent of Pura Vida. The boulder graded originally 8B was only afterwards downgraded to 8A+/B.