On March 30, and after three straight months of labor on the severely overhanging line in Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Daniel Woods established essentially the most tough boulder problem within the U.S.—probably the toughest such route on the earth.

Rated V17, Return of the Sleepwalker, in Black Velvet Canyon, provides a six-move V13 begin to Sleepwalker (V16), first completed by Jimmy Webb in 2018.

It “took 70 days over two years,” Woods says. “I went mentally deep on this factor.”

Daniel Woods at Return of the Sleepwalker in Nevada
Bobby Sorich

Whereas roped climbs observe the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), which classifies routes from 5.0 to five.15d and relies on endurance, bouldering is rated by the toughest particular person transfer or strikes. VO (5.9 on the YDS scale) continues all the best way as much as V17, which is someplace within the 5.16 vary (5.16 is a theoretical grade that nobody has but climbed on a rope).

Bouldering is all about pulling as exhausting as you may on a rock. “The secret is seeing how far you may push your self,” says Woods. “I had extreme bruises on my fingertips, and undoubtedly bought fairly beat up on it.”

Since there’s no gear (other than shoes), it’s simply the climber going through up towards the stone. Fast primer right here: Bouldering is finished with out ropes and all falls result in the bottom; climbers depend on strong spots by their companions to direct their flinging our bodies; they use foam-filled mats, known as crash pads, positioned on the bottom to cushion their falls.

Previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, “climbing,” because the The Guardian reported, went “from area of interest sport to worldwide sensation.” Even throughout 2020, which devastated many indoor climbing gyms, the Climbing Business Journal stories that extra climbing gyms opened than within the prior 12 months (2019). Since The Spot, the primary bouldering-specific facility within the U.S. opened in 2002, right this moment 40 p.c of recent gyms are bouldering-specific, in keeping with 99boulders.com. Suffice to say, bouldering has gained a strong foothold.

Along with his ascent of Return of the Sleepwalker, Woods, 31, grew to become one of the best boulderer in America and one of many two greatest on the earth. From (the place else?) Boulder, CO, Woods has flashed (that means his first try) V14 and climbed as much as 5.15b on a rope. Earlier than establishing the V17 Return of the Sleepwalker, The North Face-sponsored athlete made the primary ascent of the next V16s: Creature from the Black Lagoon and Field Remedy, each in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park; Hypnotized Minds close to Estes Park, CO; and The Course of in Bishop, CA.

Woods repeated Sleepwalker (V16) in January 2019, requiring 11 days of labor, then he started working on the subsequent line down the boulder, a sit-start that will add two strikes as much as V12. When that line wasn’t demanding sufficient, he moved additional down the boulder and commenced work on what would grow to be Return of the Sleepwalker. In complete, the boulder downside is 16 strikes lengthy.

As he spent day after day on the opening sequence, he additionally began lapping Sleepwalker. Repeating the climb elevated his energy and health, and he did it 15 instances earlier than finishing the Return of the Sleepwalker. On the day he did it, he walked as much as Return of the Sleepwalker and did it on his first go.

“This was for certain essentially the most mentally difficult factor I’ve completed in bouldering,” he says. “For these three months, I principally labored simply on that. You begin dreaming about strikes. All day you simply take into consideration the motion of that line.”

Finnish boulderer Nalle Hukkataival grew to become the primary to suggest V17 when he established Burden of Goals in Lappnor, Finland, in 2016. No Kpote Solely and The Massive Island Sit each as soon as had V17 scores, however subsequent climbers have downrated them, stories Climbing.com.

Wooden’s Return of the Sleepwalker is considered one of solely two boulder issues with a proposed score of V17 on the earth.

Now again residence in Boulder, Woods has his sights on his subsequent potential V17 venture, which he began work on earlier than Return of the Sleepwalker. The boulder is situated in close by Eldorado Canyon State Park. “It’s the identical size as Return of the Sleepwalker, 16 strikes with zero breaks. You simply hold going.”

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