Apparently Daniel Woods Just Sent V17

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.

 

Drew Ruana and the Next Generation of Boulderers

Yesterday when I was watching the Tenaya interview of Drew Ruana that I posted in yesterday’s post I was stoked to hear them talk about “the next generation of boulderers.” This got me stoked because I hadn’t really thought about this explicitly but had kind of intuited, just in my brief year plus of loving bouldering, that a changing of the guard is currently taking place. Who is the old guard? Guys like Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods, Dave Graham, Keenan Takahashi, Paul Robinson, Nalle Hukkataival. Women like Nina Williams and Alex Puccio. And then you have the new guard, and these are names I don’t know as well but of which group Drew Ruana, at 21, is definitely a prime member. You also  have guys like Sean Bailey, Nathianel Coleman, Shawn Raboutou, and on the women’s side Brooke Raboutou and….well I don’t know of a ton others, but there are mid-gen people like Giuliano Cameroni on the men’s side and Isabelle Faus on the women’s side. But the point here is not the names, not who makes up the next generation of boulderers, but what are they like? What does the future hold for the next generation of strong boulderers and bouldering in general? What is the new standard? When will the next real V17 be laid down? What, if any, is the ceiling for grades?

You don’t have to look any further than Drew Ruana to get REALLY psyched on the next generation of boulderers and bouldering in general. Drew Ruana is a good poster boy for this group. He’s strong as a wildebeest, currently studying chemical engineering, has sent several V16’s, tons of V15’s and 14’s, and is currently working on at least one (probably to be proposed) V17 (there’s an epic moment in the Tenaya interview where Drew takes the audience to check out his “white board” where he’s written down all the V14 and harder climbs in his immediate vicinity. He talks throughout the interview about a really gnarly project he’s been working on and on the whiteboard you can see “Megatron V17” written . Holy shit!!!! Send/video coming soon??????) (see him send Tron V14 here). It makes you think: If this kid is only 21 years old and already crushing V16’s, and only thinks he’s going to get stronger, why isn’t V17 next? Maybe even V18 at some point in his career, though as he talked about in the interview, V18 would be something with moves like the moves in Nalle Hukkataival’s Burden of Dreams V17, but like, eight or so of those moves in a row. So, like, pretty gnarly. Like, probably not boulders I’ll be getting on anytime soon. Though I feel like my recent send of Toto V4 is sort of somehow in the same league.

(You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Big Island Assis (proposed V17) so far in this talk of elite boulder grades. This is because there’s no consensus concerning this boulder, since it’s only been climbed once. Now, it’s very possible that this proposed grade will remain. I mean, Jimmy Webb tried the boulder a bunch and couldn’t pull it off, and Jimmy Webb is mildly herculean. And of course there’s no consensus on Burden of Dreams V17 either. But since it took Nalle like five years and something like 80 sessions to send Burden of Dreams and people have tried it since and not even been able to do the first move I feel like it has a better chance of standing the test of time. Though who the hell knows).

Anyway. What were we talking about. Sorry, I have a hard time adding all these links to the blog post but I want you guys to know what I’m talking about and also watch the Drew Ruana video. We were talking about the next generation of boulderers, I know that, but then I got distracted by that video of the dudes trying Burden of Dreams and I also got some yogurt out of the fridge and now I kind of feel like the moment has passed. The point is this: I’m super stoked for this next generation of boulderers, and super stoked to see what kinds of lines they put up and what kind of footage comes out. Because there’s NOT THAT MUCH FOOTAGE of the next gen boulderers. The overwhelming majority is of the old guard, which makes sense, since Drew Ruana for example just started climbing outside seriously fairly recently. Before that he was mostly a comp climber.

The final question you’re probably asking yourself and one that I should address is: Mark, what guard are you a part of? Old gen, middle gen, new gen? And, well, I’m 37 years old. I’ve been bouldering for just over a year and spent a decent amount of that time injured. But I’d say I’m probably somewhere between “next gen” and “middle gen.” So far there have been no Tenaya interviews with me, but that probably comes after you send V5 or V6 outside. Maybe V7. So hopefully some kind of interview will drop by the end of this summer.

It’s a rainy-ass day on the boat and I’ve already had some Hop Tea and a matcha latte and some delicious yogurt and it’s almost time to do my physical therapy. Knee feels a bit gnarly today cuz I ran (mostly) a mile yesterday. 8:27!!!! That was my time. My goal was to beat my previous post-injury best of 10:57, and hopefuly break 10:00. So I was over the moon stoked on my time. And plan to do it next week and try to run the whole thing without stopping. There wasn’t really any pain yesterday, but I’m feeling it a tiny bit today. All the more reason to do some phys ther!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Friday and have fun weekend plans that involve sending hard blocs are just seeing the ones you love.

Try hard,

Wetz

 

Should I Get A Job? || Road to Recovery

Bit of a strange morning. Is it a strange morning? Making eggs on the boat. About to have some tea. Not Hop Tea, for a change (though I do have one in the fridge); this is Spindrift’s Half Tea & Half Lemon. Five calories, only contains carbonated water, lemon juice, and brewed black tea. As opposed to non-brewed black tea. As opposed to tea in powdered form, I guess.

Yesterday I was watching this video on the boat:

Meet Drew Ruana, crusher from (I think) Redmond who grew up climbing at Vertical World. Recently he decided to say “screw it” when it came to competitions and do more climbing outside. He then proceeded to crush almost every hard boulder in the vicinity of the Denver Area, where he currently lives. If you haven’t seen it yet check out him climbing Box Therapy V16 (!!!!!?????):

The best part of this video is undoubtedly where he stands on top of the boulder at the end yelling “Let’s go!”

ANYWAY, the reasoning I’m MENTIONING this Drew Ruana INTERVIEW is because he SAYS something in the interview that RESONATED with me (me): He said his climbing actually got BETTER from being in school and having less time to climb, since that meant when he DID have time to climb he was always full bore and super stoked.

This is exactly the situation I experienced last spring during the lockdown and also when I was working full time. BEFORE lockdown I would take the bus to SBP everyday after work and climb for a bit, and after lockdown I would VERY OCCASIONALLY make forays into the wilderness to project hard (see: easy) blocs. This was the first time I ever climbed outside. My first ever boulder outside was Car Door Traverse (the guidebook calls it a V1 but it’s definitely a V0 and in J-Tree wouldn’t even be a V0 but rather on the YDS). The trips to Gold Bar and Index and Leavenworth became a bit more frequent as the pandemic drew on, and this was also when I was at my most psyched and at my strongest. Well, I actually don’t know about most psyched (or strongest for that matter but we’ll get to that). I’ve always been pretty over the moon psyched on bouldering. But this time period was when I, for instance, hiked ALL THE WAY up to the Clearcut Boulders by Gold Bar during a downpour just to see if anything was somehow dry, took refuge under Summer Solstice V3, and even gave the first couple moves a few burns. I would never do that now. Not in a million years. Mostly because I know how far the hike is and I know that if it’s raining in the parking lot shit’s probably gonna be wet.

I guess what I’m saying is maybe I should get a job. Not to contribute to society or feel better or make money or any dumb reasons like that, but because it might make me climb harder. You see, when you have a job, it makes it all the more easy to take the all-too-hard-to-take rest days. When I’m somewhat healthy, it’s very hard for me to take rest days. Rest days feel like lost days. My Czech friend (are we still friends????? I think he had a baby. Haven’t heard from him for a while) famously said, “Rest days are part of training,” which, bless his heart, is wonderful wisdom.  Rest days are so important. Your body and tendons need time to recover. You get stronger during the rest days. But it’s also so damn hard to take them, cuz like, why rest when you could go drool over some granodiorite jewels in the East Miller River Valley or caress the handholds on a gorgeous V5 in the Icicle Canyon? Ideally I would climb every day, not long sessions, but every day. Why not? As long as you don’t push it too hard there’s no reason why you shouldn’t climb every day. But if you get a job then on your rest days you have something to do. And then when you CAN actually climb you’re so incredibly stoked.

I don’t know, friends, I’m gonna have to think about this one.

Not that I can climb right now anyway cuz the knee is still on the mend, but it’s coming along, and the physical therapist I see next week is a climber, and I’m going to threaten him — I mean, ask him, if I can start easy gym climbing soon. Just yellows and maybe some reds and the occasionally overhung, kneebar-necesitating white.

You know when you sit down to write a blog post and you completely forgot what you wanted to say? I kind of feel like that right now. I feel like there’s so much other stuff I wanted to talk about. But I guess it will have to wait till tomorrow. Until then, try hard.

– Wetz