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: Notable ascents in RMNP

1a: Daniel Woods establishes possible V16

Over the past 15 years, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has become known for its ridiculous concentration of hard boulders on perfect rock. Colorado native Daniel Woods, true to his reputation as one of the strongest climbers ever, has continued the trend.

On September 27th, 2016, Woods established Creature From The Black Lagoon, a potential V16 in Upper Chaos Canyon. He explains, “This thing turned into a mind fuck battling conditions, altitude, and ups and downs with fitness.”

The boulder problem adds a sit start to Leviathan Style, one of the first difficult lines (V12—no big deal) established by Dave Graham in 2001.

I believe this line is harder than most 15s I’ve done so why not call it 16 … If train is ran on it and consensus calls it 15, then that is all good. —Daniel Woods

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finally climbed the black 90 last night aka "creature from the black lagoon." This thing turned into a mind fuck battling conditions, altitude, and ups and downs with fitness. From day one I could do all the moves and link a few at a time. As days went on links increased. I finally got to the point where I was sure it was in the bag. More days passed and I continued to fail. I would link multiple times from just 3 moves in to the top, but could never add in the first 3 relatively easy moves. This tripped me out considering that the Boulder had essentially been climbed haha. I became worried that I had already mind fucked myself and would have to wait for a new season to start fresh and see the bloc through with another set of eyes. Motivation to climb something is funny in that way. I go through this same struggle with everything challenging that I try. I beat myself up because I know it's there and overcoming mental disbelief is the most satisfying feeling for me in climbing. I had false confidence in the beginning with this thing, and that is what led me into a war of attrition. Luckily, can just look back at all those failed attempts over the course of 15 days and smile. As for how hard this thing is? that is a question that will obviously be thrown around, accepted or bashed. For me to compare it to other 15s I've done, analyze the breakdown (to me it felt like v15 to get into the stand of leviathan, no rest, then soft 11 to the top) then come up with a number to represent the climb is difficult. I believe this line is harder than most 15s I've done so why not call it 16… If train is ran on it and consensus calls it 15, then that is all good. @dave_graham_ and I have talked a lot about the progression of grades and try to understand what would make something 16. We are left dumbfounded to realize that the same level in bouldering has maintained from Fred Nicole, Bernd Zangerl, and Klem loskot a decade ago until now. We can either acknowledge what is a level up from the standard of 15 (based off of consensus over the years) or continue climbing v15 for another decade. @dave_graham_ is close to the roof and I am stoked for that moment to come when he sends!

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One of Woods’ most well-known and hardest first ascents is Hypnotized Minds (video), a roadside boulder in RMNP. Given the lack of success on the problem by some of the world’s strongest boulderers, it was thought to be V16. The climb went unrepeated for 6 years, until Russian climber Rustam Gelmanov—visiting the States for the Bouldering World Cup in June 2016—crimped his way up. See the video of Gelmanov sending below.

1b: Isabelle Faus climbs The Wheel of Chaos (V14)

Isabelle Faus has climbed The Wheel of Chaos—a power-endurance suffer-fest confirmed at V14—in Upper Chaos Canyon. Her ascent comes at the heels of her recent feature profile on

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To see the full climb, check out The Wheel Of Chaos in this video with Alex Puccio, crushing it back in fall 2015.



Story 2: New 5.14 offwidth roof crack in Utah

British offwidth experts Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker —also know as the Wide Boyz—have taken to the desert. While developing offwidth first ascents in the Crucifix Cave in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, the two climbers established Crown Of Thorns (5.14a). With 165 feet of horizontal climbing, this is one of the longest roof cracks ever established.

In an interview with UK Climbing, the Wide Boyz have this to say of the climb: “Half of it is hands and fists width and the other is an offwidth to rival Century Crack in technical difficulty … It was the only one that felt like it gave adequate ‘fight’ compared to going on the primary objective.”

And what is that “primary objective?” Ironically, the two men see Crown Of Thorns as a simple training route for the real prize: the 180-foot Crucifix Project, described below:

“The first section we committed to aiding (and possibly shutting out all doubt that this was yet another disappointing “could have been”) was 70ft of fingers, thin hands and a couple of wide pods. The first 30ft seemed ok—we guessed 5.13c/d, but the next 40ft looked totally next level. It was like London Wall or Cosmic Debris turned into a horizontal roof with not a single good foothold. Even thinking about doing a single move, might have been the hardest crack move we’d ever imagined.”

If the Crucifix Project goes, it could possibly be the most difficult crack climb ever done. Read more about it here or check out the video below to hear about it directly from Tom Randall.

Story 3: Scottish climber receives Nobel Prize in Physics

Well-known British climber and physicist Michael Kosterlitz has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics along with two colleagues for their work studying “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” In other words, the three scientists studied the strange behavior of matter on a microscopic scale.

In the 1970s, Kosterlitz and his colleagues became influential route developers in the Italian Alps. According to this article, Kosterlitz played a huge role in the progression of alpine free climbing in Europe:

“Michael played an understated yet influential role in developing modern European Alpine climbing by initiating the Nuovo Mattino or ‘New Morning’ movement in alpinism, in which limiting, old-fashioned values focussing on summits, nationalism and heroics were challenged in favour of creativity and technological advancement in free climbing.”

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If you love going down the rabbit holes of science, check out the scientific background document written by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Learn more about Topology—the mathematical concept on which Kosterlitz’ work is based—here.

Or if you’re more of a layman like me, this New York Times article explains the concepts behind Kosterlitz’ work in more understandable terms.

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