The Dai Koyamada interview
by Björn Pohl - UKC May/2010
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A couple of weeks ago, Dai Koyamada made the long awaited 2nd ascent of Dave Graham's 'The story of 2 worlds' on the Dreamtime boulder at Cresciano. The problem, links an extremely crimpy 7 move ~8B/+ or so into Toni Lamprecht's ultra physical 'The Dagger', 8B+, to create what Dave, at the time, called "the new standard for 8C". It went more than five years without a 2nd ascent, and it wasn't because nobody tried it...
I decided to ask Dai a few questions.
All photos: Dai Koyamada on The story of 2 worlds, by Ikuku Serata
You have now climbed at least four problems in the 8C/+ to 8C+ range. Both FA:s and repeats. How would you compare 'The story of 2 worlds' to these? Is it possible?
It's difficult to compare, but I think 'The Story...' felt harder than those problems. Conditions during the ascent were bad, so maybe I would have had a different impression in better conditions. Either way, Dave having climbed this problem as long as 6 long years ago is very impressive.
There is a lot of talk about grade inflation these days. Is it something that you have noticed? What do you think?
I don't think the grades are actually inflated. Perhaps the level of climbers as a whole has improved compared to the past. And this has pushed establishment of harder problems around the world, and may have resulted in the misperception.
Frankly, I'm fed up with the grading talks. My interest is not in simple numbers but rather in whether or not moves in a problem in front of my eyes is possible. That's all.
If I understand your blog correctly, you wanted to try some more 8C's. I know the weather was very bad, but did you get a chance to try any? What were your impressions?
Yes, I did try a couple: 'Big Paw' and 'In Search of Time Lost'. 'Big Paw' seemed impossible unless we had very low temps. 'In Search of Time Lost' seemed possible with more time and right conditions, but I couldn't climb after a sudden change of weather in the area. 'From Dirt Grows the Flowers' is a great line. I definitely wish to try it next time."
Every year or so, you come to Europe and make fast ascent of many of the hardest problems. Does this mean you could climb a lot harder problems if you had the time and the right conditions?
I think I should be able to. More time means getting more chances of having the right conditions. I wouldn't have to go out to the rocks and try even in the rain, like this time. But I also think that with less time you have a sense of urgency and that is a factor in bringing out more power and focus than usual.
Have you found and tried any futuristic projects here that you'd want to come back to?
There is an unsolved link project in the Darkness Cave at Magic wood that I want to try next time. There are lots of rocks, anyway, and there ought to be lots of unclimbed problems if you look for them. I wish to do those developments overseas, but it also takes so much more time than doing repeats of established problems. So right now, my hands are full with doing repeats abroad.
Do you have any plans to visit the US, South Africa or any other countries?
I want to visit many places and climb. I also want to go to the US and I am interested in Bishop, Hueco and RMNP as well. But I like Europe. What's important for me is not just the rocks and the lines but the whole environment around them.
There seem to be many strong Japanese climbers, but my impressin is that most of what happens in Japanese climbing, don't reach media outside the country. Is this correct? If so, why do you think this is?
I think we can say the same thing from us, that there are many strong and promising climbers other than so-called 'top stars' in foreign countries (outside Japan), but there are little chance of knowing about them for Japanese climbers. The situation may be attributed to culture of Japanese media.
Back to the question, certainly, there may be many strong climbers in Japan, but there are only a handful of 'real' climbers. By that I mean most of the climbers who are said to be 'strong' in Japan are competition climbers who don't go out to climb real rocks. For me this is kind of sad. It may depend on what 'media outside the country' means, but I see that there are only few cases where a Japanese climber comes up as a subject in foreign climbing magazines. As I said before, that's because there are few 'real' climbers and may well be because of tendencies of media either in Japan or in other countries. You can find Japanese names and records occasionally in foreign websites, though.
You are starting (or have already started?) your own gym. What can you tell me about this project?
About 330 sq.m of bouldering only gym - really great gym, I think.
What goals have you left to achieve in climbing? What are you doing to be able to progress even further?
Of course, I always want to be stronger than I am now, but with age my big challange from now on will be how to maintain the performance at the highest level. And although I'm focused on bouldering and sport climbing now, I want to try trad climbing as well. In any case, I wish to be true to my own motivation. For training I just climb in the gym. But I climb kick-ass hard problems and volume! And I also do campusing occasionally.
Thanks a lot Dai, and good luck with everything!