Daniel Woods has climbed his first 9A / V17 boulder “Return Of The Sleepwalker”. It’s the first American V17 and if confirmed at the grade could be one of the hardest boulder problems in the world!
The problem is a sit start variation of the 8C+ / V16 “Sleepwalker” that was originally sent in December 2018 by Jimmy Woods and has seen three other ascents. It starts from a standing position on the steepest part of the “Wet Dream” boulder in Black Velvet Canyon, in the Red Rocks area just outside of Las Vegas.
Woods made the first repeat of it just a month later and had been working on beta for the lower start since then. To climb the new V17 Woods had to make some big changes to his life and ramp up his dedication to the route.
He cut out caffeine, alcohol, and smoking of all kinds. Apart from one session on another project “Megatron” this was literally all he was working on. Originally he’d travel in or stay local, sessioning with Jimmy Woods and others. Eventually he was left basically to himself and camped out to save time and energy.
The new sit start add six moves of V13 / 8B+ level. In an earlier post he said he’d sent the original without the new sit around 15 times with his record as 4 times in a day! He’d nearly topped out just a few days before, posting a video of what he says was his “biggest punt” that sees him slip on a high toe hook that is part of the very last sequence.
Woods finally managed to send the route on the 3rd, saying on instagram “It’s all just a game people… and I play the game… The game is how comfortable can you become with your own insanity” and promising uncut footage to be published by mellow.
Talking to 8a he said “The final 16 days of my trip I put myself in complete isolation in the desert and camped. Every night I just watched video footage of myself on the line to stay psyched. I started talking to myself a lot as if someone was there with me”.
Because this problem is already fairly popular and accessible, it could turn out to be the first confirmed 9A / V17 problem in the world. The only other proposed V17’s either haven’t seen repeats or were given lower personal grades by later climbers.
Other V17 / 9A Boulders
The first boulder that was proposed as a V17 was “Burden Of Dreams” in Lappnor, Finland. It was found and eventually sent by Nalle Hukkataival in November 2016 after months of trying. The boulder hasn’t yet been repeated but a few high level boulderers have tried – including Woods.
The problem doesn’t have the best weather so there are just a few weeks or months in a year where it can be tried. Having said that, it has seen other top level boulderers giving it some time but no sends.
“No Kpote Only” was sent by Charles Albert back in January 2019 and he gave it the grade of 9A / V17. It has since seen two other ascents with both climbers giving it a personal lower grade – so by consensus this wouldn’t come out as V17.
In February this year Simon Lorenzi sent the sit start of a classic “The Big Island” which had been graded 8C/8B+. He gave the new sit start version the name “Soudain Seul” and a grade of 9A / V17. A month later Nico Pelorson repeated it, saying he thought it fitted an 8C+ grade better.