It’s called Return of the Sleepwalker and is a low start to the V16 “Sleepwalker.”
If you’re really into bouldering, and not only really into bouldering but really into the bouldering world, the pros, the famous boulders around the world, who’s sending what, who’s sending the gnarliest blocs, who’s sending the hardest blocs, etc etc, then the question: Who’s going to send the next V17? has been on your radar for a long time.
So that’s why when I went to my news feed yesterday and saw this I was pretty elated:
Apparently, two days ago, on April 2nd the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty One, Daniel woods sent a V17 called Return of the Sleepwalker. Aka a low start to the now-classic Sleepwalker V16, established by Jimmy Webb in 2018.
But before we talk about Daniel’s new line let’s talk a little bit about the history of this boulder. First, where is it? It’s in Black Velvet Canyon, a hop skip and an ankle turn from Calico Basin, aka the Kraft Boulders, aka Red Rock Canyon, aka Las Vegas. For awhile this was considered “the hardest boulder in the US of A,” as evidenced by this video here:
This is a great video to watch for a little history on this boulder, and just a well-edited video. As Jimmy Webb states on The Crag, initially he couldn’t do “a single move” on this boulder. Over 11 days, however, like the crafty southerner he is, he figured it out. Then Daniel Woods figured it out, and Nalle Hukkataival, and then Drew Ruana, and then a guy named Nathan Williams who kinda looks like Drew Ruana and might even be Drew Ruana and just wanted to post a second vid of himself sending this bulletproof sandstone masterpiece.
So as of about two months ago, that’s where we stood with Sleepwalker V16, America’s “hardest” boulder. It had kind of morphed into the ultimate testpiece for American crushers. As if the boulder gods had said, “Do you want the status of “crusher”? Then step to this tasty sandstone labyrinth of underclings and despair.”
Now, enter into the picture a few days ago, Daniel Woods. If you don’t know anything about Daniel Woods, he’s 31, from Texas, and one of the most notable boulderers (and just climbers in general) of all time. He’s sent six V16’s (that still haven’t been downgraded), four of which were first ascents. If you look at the list of V15’s he’s sent on Wikipedia it’s so long you actually have to scroll. Basically, crusher doesn’t even begin to describe him. He’s an uber-crusher. A mega-crusher. The crusher of all crushers.
Also, he has a tattoo of an eye on his neck.
And apparently, two days ago, on April 2nd, he sent V17. Or at least that’s the proposed grade. Why did he propose that mythical grade? Because (according to the article I linked to in the image at the beginning of the post) Return of the Sleepwalker adds FIVE (count the fingers on your hand if you’re having trouble understanding this) V13 (try climbing a V13 if you’re having trouble understanding this) moves to what is already a hard V16. Also it took him something like three months to do. Granted, he wasn’t climbing every day of those three months, he probably wasn’t climbing MOST days of those three months, but even so, it’s a long time. It certainly looks right now like this might be a V17 that actually stands.
One question is: Will this be Daniel Wood’s swan song? Will this be the hardest boulder he ever sends? Also: When will this get repeated? Is Drew Ruana already on a flight right now out to Las Vegas to eat this new line for brunch and proclaim to the world that , “Welllllllllllllllllllllllllll………..actually I think it’s still kidna V16”? Time will tell. Either way I’m excited.