Climbing News is a new series at Moja Gear where we bring you an assortment of stories within the community. We’ll explore what’s happening, where it’s going down, and why it’s important. Onward!
Story 1: Nalle establishes Burden of Dreams, proposes V17
Nalle Hukkataival finally completed the infamous Lappnor Project on October 23rd, 2016, renaming it Burden of Dreams and proposing 9A/V17—the first such grade in the bouldering world.
From Nalle’s Instagram: “Pulling on always feels like a deja vu, like the thousands of times before. It always starts the same way and ends the same way. Except this time. This time is different.” Read the whole caption for the above photo here.
This is the first proposed 9A in the world and therefore, it’s receiving a huge amount of attention. In comments made on UK Climbing’s website, Nalle explains his rationale behind his decision:
“Proposing a grade is always a tricky thing and this time was no different. There were two viable options: 9A and 8C+. I went with 9A after a lot of thought.
It would be hypocritical of me to talk about having achieved a new level and not propose a grade that signifies that. Isn’t that exactly what grades are for? The only other option would have been to propose 8C+, making Burden of Dreams one more of the 8C+ boulders proposed over the last 12 years and this doesn’t represent the difficulty to me.”
Further thoughts on grading
Many people might argue that any grades on the upper end of the scale cannot be solidified until a consensus is reached by other elite climbers. This is a valid point, as we’ve seen many proposed 8C+ and 8C boulder problems downgraded over time. Before settling on skepticism, however, consider how hard Burden of Dreams truly is, even for the world’s elite. In the Spring of 2015, Nalle, Jimmy Webb, and Daniel Woods all tried the problem together to no avail. “To me, right now, it feels impossible.” When those words are spoken by Daniel Woods, who has established many of the world’s hardest boulder problems, you know the project is next-level.
Check out the video from Epic TV below for more from that day:
In a recent interview with Bjorn Pohl of UK Climbing, Nalle expands upon his views on the grading system in bouldering, specifically the mythical 9A grade:
“Having special meaning attached to certain numbers definitely doesn’t help the conundrum we’re in with the grading scale if some numbers have preconceptions – based on nothing – of what these special numbers should be “reserved” for. Knowing this about the 9A number, I half jokingly but half seriously considered grading Burden of Dreams 8D.”
Near the end of the interview, Nalle draws a parallel between the establishment of 9A in bouldering and the breaking of the 10-second barrier in 100-meter running:
The psychological effect of a barrier is very real and when a barrier is broken it’s broken for everyone.
Now that the threshold to the next level of bouldering has been crossed, it will be fascinating to see what the next generation of boulderers can achieve.
Story 2: Adam Ondra’s Dawn Wall update: “I definitely expected it to be easier”
Despite his status as one of the world’s best rock climbers, the crux pitches of the Dawn Wall are giving Adam Ondra trouble. In a written update on Black Diamond’s social media accounts, Ondra had this to say:
“Complexity and difficulty of the whole climb is just shocking to me. I might have been too optimistic, but I definitely expected it to be easier. Every single pitch is so tricky and hard and yesterday on pitch 16 was the most frustrating day so far on the wall. It revealed the real difficulty of the whole climb and crucial importance of good conditions and skin. Hats off to Tommy and Kevin, who believed that the whole climb was possible before they free climbed.”
It seems that the weather conditions have not been optimal for Ondra so far, with continuous rain and humidity. Still, the sun occasionally peeks through, giving him enough time to practice the difficult climbing. On October 30th, Ondra began working Pitch 16—the infamous dyno pitch—but instead of dynoing he attempted circumnavigating it by way of “the loop.” He deemed both methods “equally crazy.”
Pitch 16, trying the loop instead of dyno. Both is equally crazy. No feet and super insecure. Cannot wait for the rain to stop and hopefully send some of the crux pitches. Seems like good conditions are on the way. I found my Antihydral so the skin should be dry too. Photo by @pavelblazek @mytendon @blackdiamond #Montura @lasportivagram #dawnwall #yosemite #elcapitan #hardestbigwall
Although the Dawn Wall seems to be his primary objective, Ondra is not letting it consume all of his time in Yosemite Valley. A few days ago he attempted a one day ascent of The Nose with his father. Although they did not manage to free climb every pitch of the famous route (Ondra had difficulty with the Great Roof and Changing Corners pitches), they eventually reached the top with the help of aid gear.
Story 3: Joe Kinder establishes one of America’s hardest sport climbs
American sport climber Joe Kinder has claimed the first ascent of Bone Tomahawk, near St. George, Utah. He has proposed 5.14d/5.15a (9a/9a+) for the grade. Kinder bolted the line in 2010 and has been working it ever since, putting in around 35 days of effort.
In an article on Rock & Ice’s website, Kinder states that his route could be “a normal 9a [5.14d] or a 9a+ [5.15a], but hell … I don’t know and don’t want to state anything I’m not comfortable with.” Even if the grade settles at 5.14d, it will still rank among the hardest sport climbs in the country. Other notable single-pitch American routes in the 9a(+) range include Chris Sharma’s Jumbo Love (5.15b) at Clark Mountain, CA; Tommy Caldwell’s Flex Luthor (5.15a) at the Fortress of Solitude in Colorado; and Dave Graham’s The Fly (5.14d; sometimes climbed as a V14 boulder problem) in Rumney, New Hampshire.
Next up for the 36-year-old Kinder is the 5.14a extension to Bone Tomahawk—which could definitely solidify the 5.15a grade!
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