Nalle Hukkataival has made what could be the most awaited first ascent in bouldering history by finally linking the half a dozen moves that make up what used to be the Lappnor project at Lappnor ~100km east of Helsinki, Finland.
From now on it will be known as Burden of Dreams (f9A), the world's first Font 9A boulder
Nalle has worked these moves for almost as long as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson worked on the Dawn wall, and for a long time it was common for Nalle to not be able to make any of the single moves for days, but he kept at it and never gave up.
Earlier this year, in late March, a visiting Jimmy Webb found what could be the last piece of crucial key beta, a small foothold Nalle had deemed as being too far to the right to be useful (the one Daniel Woods is using in the photo), and after that it was only a matter of time. And conditions...
It didn't happen in spring due to too quickly arriving summer temps, but when autumn arrived with its desired crispness, it was on and Nalle knew this should be the season to send.
'Yesterday I had another session on the Lappnor project. The routine that goes into it after all this time isn't all that exciting; the same warm up, driving an hour on the same road, brushing the all too familiar holds, re-warming up, systematically trying the same sequences in the same order. Some days you feel strong and confident and get totally shut down. Other days you're not feeling 100 per cent and it could be the best session you've had. All logic seems to have gone out the window a long time ago.
'Many sessions I wish I could forget. Can't do a move I've done countless of times before. Last highpoint was a year ago. Weeks and months turned into years of uncertainty and self-doubt. Trying to keep that little spark of hope in the back of your mind alive.
'Walking up to the boulder with all the positivity I can muster, I still can't ignore what the boulder has become to represent; failure of varying degrees.
'Sitting under the boulder I can feel the weight of it. Pulling on always feels like a déjà vu, like the thousands of times before. It always starts the same way and ends the same way. Except this time. This time was different. Snap to reality, I'm hanging on the lip of the boulder, disoriented, heart racing. Contain the panic. I'm on top of the boulder trying to grasp how I got there. Lots of feelings coinciding; surprise, relief, happiness, confusion. As reality hits that quickly turns into ecstatic happiness with a dash of disbelief.
'Waking up today I can't help but look at the world with different eyes. Having achieved the first ascent of Burden of Dreams marks a new level in my climbing. With a handful of existing 8C+ boulders in the world, proposing 9A is the logical step.
'Huge thanks to my friend Marko Siivinen for showing me the line! What a journey it's been! Stay tuned for a film of the whole story with the boulder. It will be something extraordinary!'
So, now what? Is it time to switch focus entirely and go after the Dawn Wall?
In this podcast from May 2015, I and Nalle talk at length about this project.