The American climber Brittany Goris has sent East Coast Fist Bump (5.14a) in Sedona, Arizona, joining the slim ranks of women who have climbed 5.14 using traditional gear. She worked the route over a period of a few weeks this winter, eventually clipping the chains on Thursday, January 7.
Though she practiced the moves tirelessly on top rope, Goris never linked all the moves together until her actual send, which was also her first lead attempt. “I haven’t been taking trad climbing seriously for that long,” she told Rock and Ice in a phone interview. “It’s really only been about two years of me focusing on trad climbing.” She added, “I’m really into goal setting, and I always set short-term goals, long-term goals, and crazy dreams. 5.14 trad was a crazy dream.”
Goris didn’t always have her sights on Fist Bump as her first 5.14 trad project. She initially had a different route in mind (she didn’t want to disclose the name, mentioning that she still is interested in trying it). “I thought I was going to put a bunch of time into that [route] but it got away from me.” By the time she began working Fist Bump, Goris had already sent a couple of nails-hard 13+ trad lines (City Park, 5.13d and Stingray, 5.13d; both first female ascents), so she knew 5.14 was a possibility rather than some far off dream. “It was this thing I knew I could do,” she said. “It was just gonna take the right route, the right inspiration, to commit to working on it.”
She learned about the route after belaying a friend on Fist Bump two years prior, watching him project the route and eventually send it. “He was so passionate about it, it reminded me of the way I feel when I’m really inspired by a climb,” she said. “It’s not something that happens all the time. I saw that passion in someone else and watched him send, and I thought maybe this was the kind of route that could inspire me in that way, too.” It wasn’t about finding a 5.14 that could go on gear, it was about finding a line that was worth it to her. “I’m not just going to pick something based on a grade and work it. I’m not going to care enough if I do that.” Goris saw Fist Bump not only as a path to grasping that ‘crazy dream’ of 5.14 trad, but simply as a route that could get her inspired, get her psyched.
Goris likened working East Coast Fist Bump to “solving a puzzle.” She found the route extremely technical, and mentioned that not only did she have to devise new beta as the first female climber to do it, but almost every other climber who had clipped the chains prior had to use a different technique all their own. She modified her beta almost every day at her early days on the route. The key was boiling the line down to as few low-percentage moves as possible. “For some moves, I just had to rehearse a ton of times, to memorize the way my body was positioned so that it wasn’t low percentage. There are a ton of holds,” Goris added, “and they’re all terrible.”
Once Goris began to dial in the line on top rope, she decided to go all in being redpoint attempts. She laid her gear out, racked up, visualized, and started climbing. She powered through the crux and reached the top with an ease that surprised her. “I didn’t want to bother with trying to send it on top rope and having to recreate that on lead,” she said.
On her Instagram post about the send, Goris mentioned a Todd Skinner quote that inspires her: “Everything you ever wanted to do is still possible. It’s only you who says it can’t be done. If there is something you want to do in life you’d better get on it; time waits for no one.” When Rock and Ice spoke with her, she explained what that quote means to her. “Everyone has goals, whether climbing or not. Everyone has things they want to do someday, but it’s easy to put them on the backburner, to say, ‘I’ll get around to it eventually.’ If you want to actually accomplish your goals, you can’t just sit around waiting for the future, you have to do it now.”
Sending East Coast Fist Bump puts Goris among a small roster of nine women who have climbed 5.14 trad (Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden, Barbara Zangerl, Heather Weidner, Nadine Wallner, Maddy Cope, Molly Mitchell, and Hazel Findlay are the others).
Goris admitted she’s stoked to join the ranks of 5.14 trad lady crushers, but is already focused on what her next move is. “When you set something as the ceiling, like 5.14, and then you get to that point… it’s interesting to think about what else you want to do. For a long time, 5.14 felt like an end goal for me,” she continued. “The feeling of accomplishment is great, but to be honest it’s a little overshadowed by trying to figure out where I want to go from here.”