Lattice Blog

Will Bosi Interview: 8B+ to 9A Data & Grade Thoughts

Cover image by Sam Pratt

With the recent successes of two of our athletes Will Bosi and Aidan Roberts on Alphane, we’ve heard a lot of talk all about the grade. Interestingly, it’s very heavily centred around a downgrade despite neither Aidan nor Will explicitly suggesting one. Even more interesting, is when you objectively look at their current physical condition (multiple V15s in 1-2 days) then you have to expect that something significant is going to happen when you combine years of hard training, technical skill, replica projecting and 10+ sessions of climbing. One of the world’s best boulderers, Drew Ruana gave his perspective:

“You guys don’t know Will/Aidan. Those guys are freaks, total cellar dwellers who are definitely amongst the strongest on the planet for raw strength.” 

So where does that leave us?

We decided to tackle the issue head on with a basic data analysis exercise and get some additional thoughts from Will post send. Whilst we are not going to draw any conclusions for you (we’ll let you do that!), we did think it would be interesting to objectively look at Will’s sends over the past year or so and analyse the number of sessions it took at each grade. It’s not the only part of the grading equation, but we do know it’s an important part of it. 

We’ll also signpost you towards some themes or factors that we feel can significantly impact this data which has to be taken into account. These factors affect the pros and they will affect you too. As always, please remember that a simple graph does not tell the whole story. It is a piece of data to add into the mix. 

If you’d like ‘the numbers’ right now, just scroll to the bottom of this page or check out our Instagram post on this topic. 

Interviewing Will Bosi

So Will, looking at the grade list in this graph we can see that you’ve ticked 5 of your V15s/8Cs in just 1-2 sessions and then 6 more in 3-5 sessions with only one (Serenata) taking 10+ sessions. Looks like not much at that grade is pushing you really hard?

Serenata (8C) was very hard for me as the climb is pretty extended so I had to train to climb at full extension. Beautiful Mind was also a big challenge as the crux is very compression based and after the long Intro I would feel powered out. Both Iceberg [3-5 sessions] and Drift [1-2 sessions] also had very extended feet and were hard for me although I do feel better at that style now.

With compression and full extension climbing feeling more like your anti-style, is there anything out there at that kind of grade that you didn’t succeed on yet?

I guess actual anti style problem I’ve not done would maybe be the big island 8C as it’s sloper compression.

And what about Honey Badger (8C+) back on the lovely home tuff of slightly damp and slightly obscure limestone?! 

I personally felt that Honey Badger was more of a challenge for me and proposing a grade for that at the time was daunting as it was my first 8C+. At the cutting edge of climbing, grading feels so much more difficult as the margins are that much finer and personal strengths and preferences really come into play.

Will Bosi on Honey Badger (8C+). Photo by Band of Birds

I know we’ve chatted about Burden of Dreams and Return of The Sleepwalker in the past – what do you think about those lines if you did get on them? Especially ROTSW.

I think if I train for it and was able to have a lot of sessions, Return of The Sleepwalker would be better for me as it’s longer and doesn’t require as much force on tiny feet like Burden of Dreams. I do think in general a board line would suit me better so I’d like to train on the replica a bit and then see how it feels. 

Yeah, going to be really interesting to get you on Aidan’s Burden Replica back in the UK! I think we have some filming planned for this coming up so psyched to see that! 

Factors that may significantly affect repeats and grades

  1. Replica training – this is probably the biggest underrated effect in projecting preparation and a skilled replica setter working alongside a quality training regime will provide a massive advantage. The specificity is so high on multiple fronts (physical, technical etc) that the transfer is almost unrivaled by any other method. Further to this, if a climber spends 20 days training on their replica and then ‘sends in 3 sessions’ this isn’t exactly the whole picture! 
  2. Conditions – another big effect which can alter the number of days a climber will have working a project is the weather conditions. Often on an extended trip (e.g. 4-8 weeks) the window of ‘send conditions’ could be less than a quarter of the time. This means that many sessions can be logged as sub-optimal and potential send days become working days. We’ve worked with multiple athletes who’ve been 100% capable of their projects on trips, only to be foiled by conditions at the last step. In some ways this is why we quite like climbers to be ‘better’ than their projects. 
  3. Morphology – when something doesn’t suit your body or your training/performance history, then you’re talking multiple grades of potential ‘disadvantage’ for a climber. One person’s V7 can legitimately be another’s V9. Remember though, that most climbers will filter their project choices to not be to their disadvantage (especially pro climbers choosing projects at their limit) so quick repeats can be a little misleading if people are selecting for their specialisations. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers!

How this graph works – we asked Will to write down the number of sessions that he has spent on projects at the grades of 8B+ to 9A. We didn’t include 8B due to the high number of flashes. 

Memories aren’t always perfect for the number of sessions, so we bracketed into groups. We also did not include any route climbing projects so as to keep the data simpler. Further more, we had the vast majority of the boulders from the last year as this is a better representation of Will’s current form rather than digging into session numbers from 2020 and before (especially due to Olympic preparation and split training focus). 

If you’d like to hear directly from Aidan Robert’s on his ascent of Alphane just after it happened you can hear the exclusive podcast interview with Tom Randall here.

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