When I heard, a couple of weeks ago, that the video of Dai Koyamada's first ascent of The story of two worlds low start*, 8C+, was going to be out 10 June, I decided to ask him a few questions.
*According to Dai this is the most logical and lowest possible start to the line. Dai thought he had done the problem two years earlier, only to find out later he started in the wrong spot.
Most climbers only know you through reports about very hard ascents all over the world. How would you describe the person Dai Koyamada?
I am a person who do very hard ascents all over the world – exactly, or so I hoped to be and hope I can be from now on as well. I would be happy to learn if people see me that way. But in Japan, I devote almost my entire time in developing new areas and problems. Spending more time in cleaning the area and rocks than actual climbing even. I also run a bouldering gym, so I spend a lot of time climbing inside, too.
Where do you find the inspiration to keep improving? Do you have any goals?
From beautiful problems and climbers who are stronger than me, perhaps. But the biggest thrust to move and inspire me comes from unclimbed problems. Is it possible for me to climb or not? I like to find an answer to that riddle. My goal for me is to keep climbing at any age, and to build a metaphysical world to connect the rock and myself, as it were.
What is the beauty of bouldering to you?
That I can be one on one, the rock and me.
You have also done many of the hardest climbs in Japan, Ticino,Frankenjura, Fontainebleau and the Grampians. Would you say there is any area where the hardest problems are more difficult for you than anywhere else?
Realistically, Japan has the most potential possibility, because hard problems require commuting. But in fact there are stupendous problems in Japan.
What's next for you? The US? South Africa? Any problems that you feel you must try? Any projects in Japan that mean a lot to you?
I want to go to many different countries. The US, South Africa as well, where there are many hard problems. I would like to keep coming back to Switzerland. I like going to places I've never been to, but places I'm familiar with and have many friends are very comfortable. There are problems I want to climb still! And I like the Swiss landscape. I also have many projects in Japan.
Earlier this year, you made the first ascent of The story of two worlds low start. What's the story behind this ascent and what did it mean to you?
I feel relieved anyhow.
Other than pointing out that the starting hold was wrong, I was also hurt by defamations on foreign web sites. Of course I felt anger. And I felt I had to prove that I can climb. But as I was trying the problem my feeling changed to pure sense of ambition to complete it from perfect start. It's not that easy for me to travel to Switzerland from Japan, but I thought this problem was worth the effort and meaningful to try. In the end I came back to Switzerland over 2 year period and was able to do the ascent, but when I finally did it, I think it was more sense of release than joy. It means I got an answer to the question if I can climb it or not, that's all.
You were sponsored by Mad Rock for many years, but have now switched to Evolv. How come?
I liked Mad Rock using it, but there were problems in delivery and I started to look for another sponsor. Then I came across the distributor of Evolv in Japan whom I knew from the past, we hit it off and decided to switch. Right now we are developing a model with my idea. I'm excited about how it'll come out.
When can we expect to see a movie about Dai Koyamada?
I strongly feel it's important to broadcast images. I am gathering staff to do this and plan to release them whenever possible.
Thank you very much Dai!