The future of bouldering?

© David Graham coll.

What does the future of bouldering look like?

Obviously, this is impossible to know, but let's speculate a bit...

Most seem to agree it's very difficult to see short power problems getting a whole lot harder. There simply seems to be a limit to what physically possible to hang on to, even for mutants - skin will be skin after all, and friction can only help you that much.
Maybe a single move can't be much harder than say ~8B? Paul Robinson says one of the moves on his Lucid dreaming is in the ~8B range, and I can't think of one that is said to be harder. This being UKC, I'm pretty some of you firmly believe some of the moves on Gaskins' problems are quite a bit harder though. Possibly that's the case.

Of course, I'm not implying there is no room for development, only that it's limited and will probably be slow.
But then again, never say never, look at what Usain Bolt did to 100 m!

So, this leaves us the slightly longer and the long boulder problems. Several hard sections, one after the other without any rests is bound to be hard. We already have several problems like that. Gioia, Terranova, The story of two worlds, Hydrangea, Angama, all in the ~8C/8C+-range spring to mind. And by all means, let's not forget about Jan Hojer's yellow boulder at Frechen!

Just for fun, because this really doesn't mean anything, I've come up with three examples of projects that could represent "the next level". I'm sure there are many more out there.

Nalle Hukkataival's Sisu project near Helsinki, Finland

The Sisu-project  © Nalle Hukkataival
The Sisu-project
© Nalle Hukkataival

Nalle has made some good links, but I don't think he has even made all of the ~15 single moves yet. He has said he believes the link is possible but barely, and that it's A lot damn harder than anything else I've ever seen!. Coming from a man who has seen more than most, this really means something.

Dave Graham's Mega project at Fionnay, Switzerland

The Mega project at Fionnay  © David Graham coll.
The Mega project at Fionnay
© David Graham coll.

An ~8C line to which it's possible to add an ~8C sit start.
So far, some good links have been made on the standing start. The sit is for the future.

Dai Koyamada's Super project at Mount Hiei, Japan:

The Super project at Mount Hiei, Japan  © Ikuko Serata
The Super project at Mount Hiei, Japan
© Ikuko Serata

A huge, beautiful roof which Dai now has climbed in three sections. He says he needs much more body power to be able to link the whole thing and that the three sections he has done are all, as independent problems, at the limit of what he can do.
Speculating a bit, this would probably mean he is talking about three ~8B+'s or so back to back.

The good news is that Dai feels this is his best ever project and that he is more motivated than he has ever been.

So, the conclusion? Well, I'm sorry to say I guess it is far from spectacular or surprising: More of the same thing. It's therefor also not very surprising that quite a few of the best bouldering specialists are now climbing some short routes as well and vice versa.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see what, for example, a guy like Alexander Megos, having both power and stamina, could do on Dai Koyamada's Super project?


Nalle Hukkataival is sponsored by: Black Diamond and La Sportiva

David Graham is sponsored by: Beal , Five Ten and Petzl

Dai Koyamada is sponsored by: Black Diamond, Beal, Evolv, Flashed, Inga and Musashi

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11 Jun, 2013
Nalle said some really interesting things on this in the latest DPM mag. Basically that the line between a problem being impossible and being too easy to be the next level is now down to such a hairline that the issue is as much finding a problem that hard as it is actually doing one. (as he says "i have no doubts we're already capable of climbing 8C+") It makes you wonder with Jan Hojer's yellow problem, whether the worlds hardest will be on plastic? But that kind of feels hollow surely? there's so much rock in the world there must be one out there somewhere... (and there are 3 options suggested in the article.)
11 Jun, 2013
I don't quite understand the nature of this debate. Surely, take whatever limits us humans can hold on to (now 8c for what yo saying), making longer and higher. If it becomes too high, then put on a harness and rope, and keep going! Oh wait, that's what Ondra is doing, dah! ;)
11 Jun, 2013
I don't think there is one. Just some general musings for the fun of it! (nice to have amongst the usual ukc debate filled forums)(not that they're not fun too!) Indeed, but where to find such a problem with 15 8C moves back to back...? Does this mean the future of hard bouldering is sport? Maybe...
11 Jun, 2013
It kind of feels as though that phase has been and gone in a sense with Hubble/Violent new Breed etc. May return though, who knows.
11 Jun, 2013
and so when sport reaches the same limitations bouldering is now experiencing, we switch to climbing hard sport on trad gear..
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