The Hardest Boulder Problems in the World (2018 Update)
Last updated: Oct 15, 2018. If you notice any omissions, broken links, or other errors, leave a comment below letting us know.
V16 (8C+) boulder problems are finally starting to become more common. In the first update of 2018 alone I added six V16 ascents to this list.
Creature of the Black Lagoon has now been sent by six climbers, all of whom suggested a grade of V16 (8C+), further solidifying the bloc’s spot in bouldering history as the first consensus V16 boulder problem.
What follows is a sortable list of all the hardest boulder problems in the world. The lower cutoff grade is V15, or 8C on the Font Scale. Many of the problems do not yet have a consensus grade, so I came up with a formulaic way to assign one to each based off the existing grade suggestions.
I’ve tried my best to be as comprehensive as possible with this list. However, I’m still human. If I’ve made any mistakes or left off any problems or people you think should be added, let me know in the comments and I’ll take a look at it during the next update.
Highlights from the Latest Update
- Kaddi Lehmann sent Kryptos, V15 (8C), in May 2018 to become the second woman to ever climb the grade.
- South Africa sending spree: By our count top boulderers have sent a collective total of 16 boulder problems graded V15 or higher in Rocklands and Three Corners so far this year.
- We added a new chart in the Grade-Chasing section showing how many different climbers have climbed problems of each grade. The numbers are intriguing: 128 climbers have sent a V15 (8C), 11 have sent a V15/V16 (8C/8C+), 11 have sent a V16 (8C+), and 1 has sent a V17 (9A).
The World’s Hardest Boulder Problems
|Airian||V15 (8C)||Baltzola||Spain||Iban Larrión, Alberto Rocasolano|
|Angama||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Dai Koyamada, Paul Robinson|
|Arobayo||V15 (8C)||Yakushima||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Arzak||V15 (8C)||Murgtal||Switzerland||Fred Nicole|
|Asagimadara||V15 (8C)||Mt. Mizugaki||Japan||Tokio Muroi, Toru Nakajima, Toshi Takeuchi, Jongwon Chon, Adam Ondra, Sachi Amma, Ryuichi Murai|
|Assassin, Monkey and Man||V15 (8C)||Kochel||Germany||Toni Lamprecht|
|Babel||V15 (8C)||Shiobara||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Motochika Nagao, Sachi Amma, Ryuichi Murai, Akira Waku, Jun Shibanuma, Shinichiro Nomura|
|Black Eagle SD||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Fred Nicole, Dave Graham, Daniel Woods, Giuliano Cameroni|
|Bokassa's Fridge||V15 (8C)||Kochel||Germany||Toni Lamprecht|
|Burden of Dreams||V17 (9A)||Lappnor||Finland||Nalle Hukkataival|
|Byaku-dou / The Road to the Heaven||V15 (8C)||Hourai||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Motochika Nagao|
|Bélial||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Charles Albert|
|Bügeleisen Sit||V15 (8C)||Maltatal||Austria||Nalle Hukkataival, Jakob Schubert|
|Carinthian Dreams||V15 (8C)||Kärnten||Austria||Christof Rauch|
|Catalán Witness the Fitness||V15 (8C)||La Cova de l'Ocell||Spain||Chris Sharma, Alberto Rocasolano, Felipe Camargo, Nacho Sánchez, Martin Stráník, Jernej Kruder, Jakob Schubert, Dave MacLeod|
|Cháron||V15 (8C)||Petrohrad||Czech Republic||Adam Ondra|
|Creature of the Black Lagoon||V16 (8C+)||Rocky Mountain National Park||USA - Colorado||Daniel Woods, Dave Graham, Jimmy Webb, Daisuke Ichimiya, Griffin Whiteside, Shawn Raboutou|
|Crisis||V15/V16 (8C/8C+)||Crevillente||Spain||Nacho Sánchez, Jonatan Flor Vazquez, Alberto Rocasolano|
|Cthulhu||V15 (8C)||Arnao||Spain||Nacho Sánchez|
|Defying Gravity||V15 (8C)||South Platte||USA - Colorado||Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb|
|Delirium||V15 (8C)||Lincoln Lake||USA - Colorado||Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods, Dave Graham, Griffin Whiteside, Paul Robinson|
|Der mit dem Fels tanzt||V15 (8C)||Chironico||Switzerland||Martin Keller, Dai Koyamada, Giuliano Cameroni, Martin Stráník|
|Drift||V15 (8C)||Holstejn||Czech Republic||Adam Ondra|
|Drop a Line||V16 (8C+)||Cousimbert||Switzerland||Pirmin Bertle|
|Dust Devil||V15 (8C)||Saalachtal||Austria||Bernhard Schwaiger|
|Délire Onirique (assis)||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Charles Albert|
|El Diablo||V15 (8C)||Peñoles||Mexico||Daniel Woods|
|El Indomable||V15/V16 (8C/8C+)||Tamajón||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano, Nacho Sánchez|
|Emotional Landscapes||V15 (8C)||Maltatal||Austria||Klem Loskot, Martin Moser, Nalle Hukkataival, Florian Schmalzl|
|Entropia||V15 (8C)||Castillo de Bayuela||Spain||Nacho Sánchez, Alberto Rocasolano, Ignacio Mulero|
|Epitaph||V15 (8C)||Horai||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Ryuichi Murai|
|Eskerrik Asko||V15 (8C)||Araotz||Spain||Markel Mendieta|
|Eternal||V15 (8C)||Hinokage||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Kazuma Watanabe|
|Eternal Sunshine||V15 (8C)||Mudeungsan National Park||South Korea||Jongwon Chon|
|Eterno Legado||V15 (8C)||Hoya Moros||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano|
|Fortaleza||V15 (8C)||Ubatuba||Brazil||Felipe Camargo|
|Foundation's Edge||V15 (8C)||Fionnay||Switzerland||Dave Graham|
|From Dirt Grows the Flowers||V15 (8C)||Chironico||Switzerland||Dave Graham, Bernd Zangerl, Radovan Souček, Adam Ondra, Nalle Hukkataival, Rok Klančnik, Manuel Brunn, Nils Favre, Kilian Fischhuber, Jan Hojer, Alexey Rubtsov|
|Gekirin||V15 (8C)||Ryutosen||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Daisuke Ichimiya|
|Ginga||V15 (8C)||Kanoto||Japan||Yuji Hirayama|
|Gioia||V15/V16 (8C/8C+)||Varazze||Italy||Christian Core, Adam Ondra, Nalle Hukkataival|
|Gossip||V15 (8C)||Frankenjura||Germany||Markus Bock, John Gaskins (?), Markus Windisch|
|Half-Life||V15 (8C)||Frankenjura||Germany||Felix Knaub|
|Hipoxia||V15 (8C)||Navalosa||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano|
|Horizon||V15 (8C)||Mt. Hiei||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Ashima Shiraishi, Daisuke Ichimiya|
|Hull Shea Nation||V15 (8C)||Horai||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Hurricane||V15 (8C)||Birgkar||Austria||Bernhard Schwaiger|
|Hydrangea||V15 (8C)||Shiobara||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Daniel Woods, Motochika Nagao, Sachi Amma, Ryuichi Murai, Shinichiro Nomura|
|Hymn||V15 (8C)||Mudeungsan National Park||South Korea||Jongwon Chon|
|Hyper Ballad||V15 (8C)||Shiobara||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Hypnotized Minds||V16 (8C+)||Rocky Mountain National Park||USA - Colorado||Daniel Woods, Rustam Gelmanov|
|Il Pirata||V15 (8C)||Lake District||UK||John Gaskins|
|In Search of Time Lost||V15 (8C)||Magic Wood||Switzerland||Daniel Woods, Dai Koyamada, Carlo Traversi, Tamás Zupán, Ryuichi Murai|
|Insomnio||V15 (8C)||Crevillente||Spain||Nacho Sánchez|
|Iron Knuckles||V15 (8C)||Kärnten||Austria||Christof Rauch|
|Karamu||V15 (8C)||Unknown||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Kikela||V15 (8C)||Teverga||Spain||Isaac Montes|
|Kimera||V15 (8C)||Piemonte||Italy||Christian Core|
|Kintsugi||V15 (8C)||Red Rocks||USA - Nevada||Nalle Hukkataival, Jimmy Webb, Nils Favre|
|Knocking on Heaven's Door||V15 (8C)||Petrohrad||Czech Republic||Petr Resch|
|Kryptos||V15 (8C)||Basler Jura||Switzerland||Franz Widmer, Fred Nicole, Kevin Heiniger, Kaddi Lehmann|
|Kráter||V15 (8C)||Holstejn||Czech Republic||Adam Ondra|
|Kuzan||V15 (8C)||Mie||Japan||Toshi Takeuchi|
|La Colombe||V15 (8C)||Vernayaz||Switzerland||Dave Graham|
|La Force Tranquille||V15 (8C)||Magic Wood||Switzerland||Daniel Woods, Nalle Hukkataival|
|La Grosse Tarlouze||V15 (8C)||Magic Wood||Switzerland||Michael Piccolruaz|
|La Révolutionnaire||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Charles Albert|
|La Révolutionnaire Extension||V16 (8C+)||Fontainebleau||France||Charles Albert|
|La teoría del todo||V15 (8C)||Albarracín||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano, Rubén Díaz Torres, Jonatan Flor Vazquez|
|Le Boa||V15 (8C)||Unknown||Switzerland||Fred Nicole|
|Le Marathon de Boissy||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Jan Hojer, Guillaume Glairon-Mondet|
|Le Pied à Coulisse||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Guillaume Glairon-Mondet, Jimmy Webb, Charles Albert|
|Le Poinçonneur des Lilas||V15 (8C)||Basler Jura||Switzerland||Fred Nicole, Franz Widmer|
|Livin' Large||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Nalle Hukkataival, Jimmy Webb|
|Lucid Dreaming||V15 (8C)||Bishop||USA - California||Paul Robinson, Daniel Woods, Alex Megos, Toru Nakajima|
|Lurragorri||V15 (8C)||Araotz||Spain||Markel Mendieta|
|L'Alchimiste (right version)||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Nalle Hukkataival, Alban Levier|
|Malédiction assis||V15 (8C)||Rioupéroux||France||Clément Lechaptois|
|Maria Singer||V15 (8C)||Kochel||Germany||Toni Lamprecht|
|Metafizika||V15 (8C)||Jurklošter||Slovenia||Jernej Kruder|
|Methuselahzation||V15 (8C)||Yatsue||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Metropolis||V15 (8C)||Lough Tay||Ireland||Michael Duffy|
|Mikelon||V15 (8C)||Baltzola||Spain||Iban Larrión|
|Monkey Wedding||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Fred Nicole,
Paul Robinson, Adam Ondra, Daniel Woods, Nacho Sánchez, Shawn Raboutou, Vadim Timonov, Nalle Hukkataival, Dave Graham, Charles Albert, Alex Khazanov, Alex Megos, Toby Saxton, Aidan Roberts
|Nayuta||V16 (8C+)||Gero||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|No Additives Sit-Start (Post Break)||V15 (8C)||Joe's Valley||USA - Utah||Griffin Whiteside|
|Noise vs Beauty||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Daniel Woods, Nalle Hukkataival, Paul Robinson, Dave Graham, Moritz Perwitzschky|
|Obseja||V15 (8C)||Kusięta||Poland||Łukasz Dudek|
|Orochi||V15 (8C)||Kanoto||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Makoto Yamauchi, Alex Megos, Toshi Takeuchi, Ryuichi Murai, Shinichiro Nomura|
|Paint It Black||V15 (8C)||Rocky Mountain National Park||USA - Colorado||Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson, Dave Graham, Ian Dory, Toru Nakajima, Nicholas Milburn, Griffin Whiteside|
|Papa Oso||V15 (8C)||Torrelodones||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano, Nacho Sánchez|
|Parálisis Espástica||V15 (8C)||Navalosa||Spain||César Quero|
|Parzival||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Dave Graham|
|Pata Ledovce||V15 (8C)||Holstejn||Czech Republic||Adam Ondra|
|Pipe Dream SD||V15 (8C)||Saalachtal||Austria||Bernhard Schwaiger|
|Poslední mažoret||V15 (8C)||Labské údolí||Czech Republic||Rostislav Stefanek|
|Practice of the Wild||V15 (8C)||Magic Wood||Switzerland||Chris Sharma, Tyler Landman, Daniel Woods, Adam Ondra, Carlo Traversi, Jimmy Webb, Nalle Hukkataival, Anthony Gullsten, Martin Stráník, Toshi Takeuchi, Dave MacLeod, Gabriele Moroni, Baptiste Ometz, David Firnenburg, Ryuichi Murai, Alex Khazanov, Will Bosi|
|Quoi de Neuf||V15 (8C)||Toit d'Orsay||France||Rémy Bergasse, Sébastien Bouin, Alban Levier, Jan Hojer, Jonas Winter|
|Red Bottom Sky||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Dave Graham|
|Road Sweet Home||V15 (8C)||Grampians||Australia||Nalle Hukkataival|
|Rokudou||V15 (8C)||Toyamagawa||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Satan i Helvete (broken version)||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Alban Levier|
|Serenata||V15 (8C)||Maltby||UK||Mike Adams|
|Serenation||V15 (8C)||Maltby||UK||Mike Adams|
|Shadowplay||V15 (8C)||Lake District||UK||John Gaskins|
|Shiva||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Thomas Willenberg|
|Soyuz (low start)||V15 (8C)||Zarzalejo||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano, César Quero|
|Spray of Light||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Daniel Woods, Dave Graham, Shawn Raboutou, Toshi Takeuchi, Ryuichi Murai, Martin Mobråten, Thilo Schröter, Kim Marschner|
|Styrian Delirium||V15 (8C)||Weststeiermark||Austria||Christof Rauch|
|Tekuté Štěstí||V15 (8C)||Holstejn||Czech Republic||Martin Stráník, Adam Ondra|
|Terranova||V16 (8C+)||Holstejn||Czech Republic||Adam Ondra|
|Terremer||V15 (8C)||Hueco Tanks||USA - Texas||Fred Nicole, Paul Robinson, Daniel Woods, Dan Beall, Simon Parton|
|The Big Island||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Vincent Ponchon, Lucas Menegatti, Arjan de Kock, Guillame Glairon-Mondet, Jan Hojer, Toru Nakajima, Chris Schulte, Griffin Whiteside, Niccolò Ceria, Edward Feehally, Michiel Nieuwenhuijsen, Jimmy Webb, Jonas Winter, Taylor McNeill, Ryohei Kameyama, Giuliano Cameroni, Anthony Gullsten|
|The End||V15 (8C)||Zalog||Slovenia||Urh Cehovin|
|The Expanse||V15 (8C)||Joe's Valley||USA - Utah||Matt Fultz|
|The Finnish Line||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Nalle Hukkataival, Alex Megos, Toby Saxton, Shawn Raboutou, Daniel Woods, Daisuke Ichimiya|
|The Game||V15 (8C)||Boulder Canyon||USA - Colorado||Daniel Woods, Carlo Traversi, Jon Cardwell, Jimmy Webb|
|The Ice Knife (sit start)||V15 (8C)||Guanella Pass||USA - Colorado||Daniel Woods|
|The Last Jedi||V15 (8C)||Remete-barlang||Hungary||Tamás Zupán|
|The Matriarch||V15 (8C)||Rocktown||USA - Georgia||Jimmy Webb|
|The Mystical Patatohead's Direct Edge||V15 (8C)||Gais||Italy||Alexander Feichter|
|The Nest||V15 (8C)||Red Rocks||USA - Nevada||Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb, Paul Robinson, Nalle Hukkataival, Facundo Langbehn, Keenan Takahashi, Ethan Pringle|
|The New Chapter||V15 (8C)||Ozark Mountains||USA - Arkansas||Paul Robinson|
|The Outer Limits||V15 (8C)||Lake Tahoe||USA - California||Jimmy Webb|
|The Pirate's Code||V15 (8C)||Three Corners||South Africa||Paul Robinson, Daniel Woods|
|The Process||V16 (8C+)||Bishop||USA - California||Daniel Woods|
|The Smile||V15 (8C)||Rocklands||South Africa||Giuliano Cameroni|
|The Stepping Stone||V15 (8C)||Grampians||Australia||Nalle Hukkataival|
|The Story of Two Worlds||V15 (8C)||Cresciano||Switzerland||Dave Graham, Dai Koyamada, Paul Robinson, Jernej Kruder, Carlo Traversi, Giuliano Cameroni, Gabriele Moroni, Toru Nakajima, Jimmy Webb, Jan Hojer, Samuel Ometz, Martin Stráník, Alex Khazanov, Paweł Jelonek, Christof Rauch|
|The Story of Two Worlds (low start)||V15 (8C)||Cresciano||Switzerland||Dai Koyamada, Christof Rauch, Sebastian Cotting|
|The Understanding||V15 (8C)||Magic Wood||Switzerland||Nalle Hukkataival, Jimmy Webb, Vadim Timonov|
|The Wheel of Life||V15 (8C)||Grampians||Australia||Dai Koyamada, Christopher Webb-Parsons, Ethan Pringle, James Kassay, Benjamin Cossey, Dave Graham, Ian Dory, Alex Megos, Daniel Woods, Alex Barrows, Thomas O'Halloran|
|The Wheel of Life Direct||V15/V16 (8C/8C+)||Grampians||Australia||James Kassay, Jorg Verhoeven|
|The Wheel of Wolvo||V15 (8C)||Lincoln Lake||USA - Colorado||Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods, Dave Graham, Matt Fultz, Griffin Whiteside|
|The World Is Yours||V15 (8C)||Biblins Cave||UK||James Squire|
|Tonino '78||V15/V16 (8C/8C+)||Meschia||Italy||Mauro Calibani, Julien Nadiras, Antione Vandeputte|
|Topaz||V15 (8C)||Wild Basin||USA - Colorado||Dave Graham, Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson, Sam Weir, Griffin Whiteside|
|Transcendance/Transdendenz||V15 (8C)||Sachsen||Germany||Thomas Willenberg|
|Trinity||V15 (8C)||La Peixcave||Spain||Alberto Rocasolano|
|Trip Hop||V15 (8C)||Fontainebleau||France||Sebastien Frigault, Thomas Willenberg, Paul Robinson, Guillaume Glairon-Mondet, Jan Hojer|
|Vanitas||V15 (8C)||Horai||Japan||Dai Koyamada, Ryuichi Murai, Daisuke Ichimiya|
|Vrtule||V15/V16 (8C/8C+)||Holstejn||Czech Republic||Adam Ondra|
|Walk Away (sit start)||V15 (8C)||Fairy Steps||UK||John Gaskins|
|Whiplash||V15 (8C)||Lietlahti Park||Russia||Alexey Rubtsov|
|Whirlwind||V15 (8C)||Saalachtal||Austria||Bernhard Schwaiger|
|Wintertime Love||V15 (8C)||Cousimbert||Switzerland||Pirmin Bertle|
|Witness the Fitness (broken)||V15 (8C)||Ozark Mountains||USA - Arkansas||Chris Sharma, Fred Nicole, Daniel Woods|
|Wrath of the Lichking||V15 (8C)||Frankenjura||Germany||Felix Knaub, Alex Megos|
|Yocuto||V15 (8C)||Gero||Japan||Dai Koyamada|
|Ziqqurat||V15 (8C)||Gaby||Italy||Niccolò Ceria, Gabriele Moroni|
|Zunami||V15 (8C)||Saalachtal||Austria||Bernhard Schwaiger, Hermann Schwaiger, Klem Loskot, Florian Schmalzl, Tamás Zupán, Christof Rauch|
The World’s Current Hardest Boulder Problem
Based solely on grade, the world’s hardest boulder problem is currently Burden of Dreams. It was the first problem — and is still the only — to ever receive a proposed grade of V17 (9A). Nalle Hukkataival has the first and only ascent.
List Criteria & Grading Guidelines
- The grade had to be V15 (8C) or higher. In other words, problems graded V14/V15 (8B+/8C) and lower were left off the list. For the remainder of the article, I will refer to problems graded V15 (8C) or higher as “hard” problems.
- For problems with no consensus grade, I averaged the V Scale translation of the grade suggestions. If the average had a remainder less than ⅓, I rounded down. If the average had a remainder between ⅓ and ⅔, I treated it as having a slash grade. If the average had a remainder above ⅔, I rounded up. I also averaged slash grades: V14/V15 was treated as 14.5, for instance. For example, let’s consider the problem Khoikhoi. Currently, three climbers have sent it. Jimmy Webb proposed a grade of V14 (8B+). Nalle Hukkataival and Shawn Raboutou both proposed a grade of V15 (8C). I averaged the V Scale translation of these grades (14, 15, 15) to get 14⅔. Since the remainder is ⅔, I treated Khoikhoi as having a slash grade of V14/V15 (8B+/8C) and thus left it off the list. If one more climber were to send it and propose a grade of V15 — or if Jimmy Webb were to bump his suggestion up to V15 — I would add it.
- I did not take into account anything other than the proposed grades. Some climbers are known for grading hard. Some problems are considered soft for their grade, while others are considered hard. I didn’t consider any of this. I just considered the proposed grade(s).
Notes on Specific Problems
- Gioia: Many people think of Gioia as a V16 (8C+) boulder problem. However, I have listed it as V15/V16 (8C/8C+). Why? It currently has two grade suggestions: V15 from Christian Core, V16 from Ondra. (Nalle didn’t propose a grade after nabbing the third ascent.) With these two to go off of, following my grading guidelines I listed it with a slash grade.
- Wintertime Love & Drop a Line: Pirmin Bertle has stirred up grading controversy before by proposing world-class grades on routes like Meiose. To make matters more complex, Drop a Line is a traverse and Wintertime Love could be as well, yet Bertle suggested a bouldering grade for both. I decided to respect his grade suggestions and have included both problems at their proposed grades.
- Bokassa’s Fridge – Assassin, Monkey and Man: I have left this problem off the list because Jens Larssen from 8a.nu brought to my attention that it is an “elimination boulder” — a problem where the climber doesn’t climb the natural line but instead creates the difficulty by avoiding certain holds.
Who Is the Best Boulderer Ever?
Here are two charts based on the data in the above list showing who has sent the most hard boulder problems and who has racked up the most hard boulder first ascents (FAs).
Dai Koyamada and Daniel Woods are neck and neck for number of hard boulder sends and are first and second, respectively, in number of hard boulder FAs. Nalle Hukkataival is third in both categories and has the first and only ascent of the world’s first proposed V17 (9A). One could make the case for any of them as the world’s best boulderer.
Sheer volume of hard sends and FAs is admittedly not the only way to assess a boulderer’s ability. At the very least, these three are the most prolific outdoor boulderers of their time.
The first boulder problem to ever receive a suggested grade of V15 (8C) was Dreamtime, which Fred Nicole put up in 2000. Dreamtime has since been downgraded, but in 2002 Nicole climbed Black Eagle SD and Monkey Wedding which both currently stand as consensus V15s.
Put another way, it took just two years from the time the V15 grade was first proposed for a problem to be put up whose V15 grade would hold after multiple repeats.
(There is another V15 that was put up before Black Eagle SD and Monkey Wedding. But the problem, Gossip, has only two grade suggestions and is therefore still at risk of being downgraded.)
The story is different for the V16 (8C+) grade. The first problem with a proposed grade of V16 appears to have been Tonino ’78, first sent by Mauro Calibani in 2004. It wasn’t until 12 years later, in 2016, that Daniel Woods would put up Creature of the Black Lagoon, the world’s first consensus V16.
Assuming Creature of the Black Lagoon’s grade continues to withstand the test of time, it has taken a decade longer for the V16 grade to go from suggestion to consensus than it did V15. That’s a staggering, and intriguing, difference.
Interestingly, well over one hundred different climbers have climbed a V15 (8C) problem. Then comes quite a drop-off. Only 11 have climbed a V15/V16 (8C/8C+). 11 have also climbed a V16 (8C+). Just one person has climbed a V17 (9A).
Downgrading of V16 problems is still quite common. For example, in 2016 Alberto Rocasolano proposed a grade of V16 for La teoría del todo after getting the first ascent. A few months later Rubén Díaz Torres got the second ascent and proposed a grade of V15. Then in 2018 Jonatan Flor Vazquez claimed the third ascent and proposed a grade of V14.
It’s easy to wonder what’s going on. Why all the downgrading? Shouldn’t there be more V16s? Nalle wrote a blog post way back in 2010 detailing his thoughts on why this apparent stalling of grade progression happened.
Though V16 sends have remained elusive, as I updated this article throughout 2017 and into 2018 I sensed that start to change ever so slightly. Sure, downgrading still happens regularly, but top climbers are proposing V16s more and more often.
Of course, a proposed V17 (9A) also exists. Nalle climbed Burden of Dreams in October 2016, just a month after Woods climbed Creature of the Black Lagoon. If history is any indicator, it’s likely that Burden of Dreams will be downgraded by future ascensionists. As for how long it will take for a consensus V17 to emerge…well, that’s anyone’s guess.
Where in the World Are the Hardest Boulder Problems?
There’s a map for that:
And a chart:
Currently, only 21 countries are home to a hard boulder problem. And it’s quite incredible to realize:
- 14 of those countries are in Europe
- There is only one country from Africa and South America on the list (South Africa and Brazil)
- There are only two hard boulder problems in all of mainland Asia: Hymn and Eternal Sunshine, both located in South Korea. (Whiplash is located in the European part of Russia.)
Bouldering’s global potential remains largely untapped. As the sport matures one can only imagine all the new crags and problems that will arise.
When to Project vs. When to Train, Backed by Data
Finally, for fun I charted the ascents of all the hard boulder problems by month for both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Most of the hard boulder sends in both hemispheres came in the coldest months of the year. At the very least, these charts can give you some insight on when to tackle your projects and when to focus on training.