On September 7, 2019 , Linda Sjodin, a 26 year old medical student from Stockholm sent Bernd Zangerl’s New Base Line, an 8B+/V14 boulder in Magic Wood, Switzerland.
Prior to Linda, New Base Line had seen four female ascents - Shauna Coxsey, Anna Stohr, Alex Puccio and Mile Heyden. After sending New Base Line over 15 sessions, Linda became the 11th female to have bouldered 8b+/V14.
Despite the fact that a noticeable number of V15s have been established over the last two decades coupled with a few handful V16/8C+, this noble sloppy rail still remains a test piece amongst the bouldering fraternity. Whether or not one can climb this iconic line, it’s hard not to get drawn in by the aesthetics of it. New Base Line was first established by Bernd Zangerl back in 2003. Although graded 8C in the beginning, shortly after enough repeats, it was downgraded to 8B+.
Although an impressive feat, the grade isn’t the only thing caught my eye. It was the attempt at storytelling which appeared both genuine and respectful, followed by the humility with which Linda worked on the project. I reached out to do an interview for Boulderbox and Linda responded immediately to share her thoughts behind this achievement and climbing in general.
1) How do you perceive climbing? or What do you have to say on the nature of relationship between you and climbing?
LS: Climbing started out as a hobby to get my mind off studies and just have fun. And then in 2016 I went on my first climbing trip and was amazed by all the great boulders out there. Since then I’ve felt the urge to become a better climber.
I find it peaceful to get out of the city life, to be surrounded by nature and just immersed in the moment. Climbing is really a challenge against yourself, both physically and mentally. I find that I learn a lot about myself from climbing.
2) What is it that drives you to climb?
LS: I’m not sure I have the answer to that. But I think it’s a combination of the mental and physical challenge as well as the people within the community.
3) Being a medical student, how do you go about putting in the time and effort that delivers this level of execution?
LS: At the moment I’m on a break from studies to focus on climbing. But training hard is possible when studying medicine, you just have to be organised and use your time wisely.
4) Could you share what a typical training week may look like for you? How many days a week do you train on average...
LS: I usually train 4 or 5 times a week. My training mostly consists of climbing but depending on where I am in my training plan it can be milage climbing, climbing at my maximum level, flash training etc. If I’m not going on a trip or competition anytime soon I’ll do more milage and as it gets closer I’ll start to climb harder and rest more to get recruited. A few weeks before a trip or a comp I’ll add some finger-boarding consisting of maximum hangs. Unlike a lot of people seem to think, I’m not doing much strength training in the gym. But occasionally I follow along with a pilates video on youtube haha!
5) Is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to next?
LS: Yes! I’m going to Brione in Switzerland in November and I’ve been wanting to try a problem called “Flash flood” since last year.
6) If at all, what part of your climbing constitutes of comparing yourself to others or getting fixated with grades?
LS: I try not to compare myself to others, but I do occasionally. Before trying New Base Line I had no idea of how hard it would be and if I was physically strong enough so I would naturally compare myself with the girls that had already climbed it. I think I might care a bit too much about who’ve climbed a boulder but it motivates me to know that a girl has climbed it before me. There’s no point in being fixated with grades, especially not when you’re shorter and have different strengths and weaknesses than the average climber. It’s easy to forget that grades are just a consensus of what the previous ascensionists thought. I’ve found that the grade is often not a very good measure of how hard a boulder will be for me so I just climb what i find challenging.
7) What do you have to say to those who get caught up between the two stream of thoughts mentioned above?
LS: I think it’s all right to compare yourself with others as long as it doesn’t have a negative impact on your climbing. I mean, there’s no point in comparing your progression with someone else’s, it doesn’t make you a better climber. But sometimes I find it useful to compare my style of climbing with someone else just to find weaknesses. And knowing that someone about your height has climbed a boulder can be inspiring. For example, if Alex Puccio has done a boulder I know I won’t be too short, I might just not be fit enough.
If the aim is to become a better overall climber you should not care about the grade as long as you’re being challenged.