Mina Leslie-Wujastyk

Midnight Lightning 7B+, the classic Yosemite test piece © David MasonMidnight Lightning 7B+, the classic Yosemite test piece © David Mason

Mina is perhaps the brightest star of the current generation of British female climbers. Although she made her name initially as a high standard boulderer and competition climber, in recent times she has shown outstanding form as a sport climber. With her redpoint of Mecca Extension F8c at Raven Tor she became the first woman to climb this standard on a UK crag. She is also a vice-president of the BMC, a prestigious appointment made in recognition of her growing status.

She started climbing in 1995 at the age of eight, initially on a climbing frame and around the features of her house. Her parents could see that she had a natural affinity for climbing so decided to take her to a local climbing wall in Bovingdon. A year later another climbing wall opened up close to where they lived in Amersham and Mina began to spend even more time climbing.

During her teenage years she climbed a lot in the Peak District, Portland and Fontainbleau but then took a short break before going to college in Sheffield. Living in the climbing capital of England reignited Mina’s passion for climbing. By the end of her degree course in 2008 she was really starting to push her standard, particularly on the bouldering front. Highlights of that year included the classic test pieces Brad Pit 7C+ at Stanage, Ben’s Roof 7C+ at Raven Tor and Carnage 7B+ in Fontainebleau. She also redpointed Too Old to be Bold F7c at Rubicon, became a member of the GB Bouldering Team and placed third in the British Bouldering Championship.

Now fully engrossed in the climbing lifestyle Mina hit the road and started visiting the classic European bouldering destinations. Her standard continued to rise and in 2009 she not only broke the magic 8A grade but climbed five problems at this level, plus four 7C+s and eleven 7Cs including the first female ascent of Jerry’s Roof in the Llanberis Pass.

Back home in the Peak District she broke another magic grade, redpointing The Sissy F8a at Rubicon.

2010 saw more 7C+ and 8A boulder problems, and a flurry of sport climbing which resulted in success on Four Door Dostoyevsky F8a+ and Powerplant F8a in Cheedale, Pump up the Power F8a+ at Raven Tor and Raindogs F8a at Malham.

La Cara Que No Miente F8a+, Siruana © Ray WoodLa Cara Que No Miente F8a+, Siruana © Ray Wood

The following year Mina shifted her focus back to bouldering with a number of memorable trips abroad during which many classic problems were despatched. Stand out ascents included Nutsa 8A and two 7C flashes (Last Day in Paradise and Teagarden Roof) at Rocklands in South Africa, while in Fontainbleau she climbed the beautiful Les Beaux Quartiers 8A and the highball Misericorde 7C+.

An extended visit to America in 2012 allowed Mina to push her standard to the next level – during a fantastic trip she climbed three 8A+s (Dark Matter in Huntington Canyon, Tetris at Wild Basin and Mind Matters at Guanella Pass), five 8As in Joe’s Valley and ticked a large volume of 7Cs and 7C+s (including Yosemite test piece, Thriller).

Returning to Raven Tor in the Peak Mina went straight for the big prize, succeeding on Mecca F8b+ in September, at the time the hardest sport climb done by a female in the UK.

In January 2013 Mina passed another personal milestone when she flashed her first F8a, Memorias de una Sepia in Siurana. Back home she went for an even greater challenge, namely a ground up ascent of Careless Torque 8A at Stanage. This impressive highball line has a tough reputation, both for its powerful start and its bold, reachy finish. After a number of exciting dismounts from the upper arête Mina latched the crucial good flake and topped it out to achieve a long held ambition. “Careless Torque feels really special to me, something I will think of in years to come, something that will make me smile."

Mina’s international competition performance was improving too – she had consistently made the bouldering semi finals and narrowly missed a final place in Vail. In July she got second place in the British Bouldering Championship in Sheffield, her best effort in this hotly contested competition. After all that plastic cranking a summer return to Rocklands delivered some very satisfying ascents, such as Amphitheatre 8A+, Out of Balance 8A, The Hatchling 8A, Barracuda 8A and Splash of Red 7C+, “a beautiful, high, nerve-wracking arête”. Moving on to the Västervik bouldering festival in Sweden Mina made quick work of two 8As, The Office sds and David o Goliat.

Tetris 8A+, Wild Basin, USA © David MasonTetris 8A+, Wild Basin, USA © David Mason

Come November she was back at Stanage, climbing the desperate Unfamiliar E7/8 6c ground up, albeit with a terrifying near miss at the top when both her feet slipped from the smeary footholds.

Mina continued to travel in search of world class boulder problems; in early 2014 she was in Hueco Tanks ticking Rumble in the Jungle 8A+ and Barefoot on Sacred Ground 8A+, Chbalanke 8A and Le Chninkel 8A, plus many easier classics.

In April she was appointed as one of the vice presidents of the British Mountaineering Council, prompting her to comment: “I hope I can help the BMC by assisting in connecting with younger members and with women in our sport,”

Later in the year she returned to Rocklands and came close, but no cigar, on The Vice 8B; consolation came in the shape of Leopard Cave 8A+ and four quality 8As.

Back home in Sheffield Mina decided to push in another direction, this time past the F8c sport climbing grade. In October 2014, and after much dedicated effort, she succeeded in redpointing the endurance test piece, Mecca Extension at Raven Tor, becoming the first woman to climb F8c on British soil.

For more on the Mina’s climbing adventures check out her blog; and for a fascinating insight into how Mina operates keep an eye out for Jen Randall’s Project Mina film which was unveiled at the Women’s Climbing Symposium in the autumn of 2014.

"Mecca Extension took quite a lot from me, but more mentally than physically if I'm honest. The redpointing process was pretty hard, but it was so very worth it when I was able to grab the finishing holds!"