The evolution in style of how established highball boulder problems are climbed continues at Bishop's Peabody boulders in the Buttermilk Country.
Jason Kehl's Evilution V12, on the 50ft high Grandpa Peabody boulder is described as 'one of the best problems on earth' and its direct version by Tony Lamiche (Evilution Direct V11) is of a similar quality. Until recently many ascents of these hard superblocs or super highballs have involved rehearsal on a top rope before solo, as were the first ascents; with protection provided by a stacked mountain of bouldering pads on the compacted sand at the base.
Wills Young a co-author of the Bishop Bouldering has pondered that these problems to be around English E8. Wills adds to the descriptions, 'bring all the crash pads in Bishop, and a wheelchair.' However he has said that with lots of pads an E-grade is not appropriate for these particular problems.
Both the original and the direct Evilution have now been climbed without roped rehearsal, ground-up style.
Last November Carlo Traversi made the fourth ascent of Evilution ground-up (helped by running beta, chalked holds and lots of pads) and he has now been joined by his brother Giovanni "G" Traversi, who last Thursday repeated this feat.
The day before, Austrian Tobias Haller made the 6th ascent of Evilution Direct (v11), again ground-up style.
You can read the full gory details with photos at Wills' bishopbouldering.blogspot.com
American bouldering has quite a heritage of highball ascents. Forty-seven years ago in 1961, the father of modern bouldering, John Gill, established The Thimble in the Needles of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Gill bouldered out this 30ft granite needle ground-up without roped rehearsal and of course without bouldering pads; in fact there was a wooden guard rail at the base of this needle making any fall very spicey. It weighed in at a highball V4, and may have been the USA's first 5.12 (E4/5).