Nalle Hukkataival has made the 3rd ascent of Sleepwalker, a Font 8C+ first climbed by Jimmy Webb in December 2018. The problem is in Black Velvet Canyon just outside of Las Vegas and is likely the hardest boulder problem in the US. The three ascents were all achieved in under two months and all three climbers have agreed on a consensus grade of 8C+.
Last year I opened this project in Red Rocks and after putting in the work was close to climbing it - falling off the last move. Then frigid winter temperatures claimed the canyon. Even sticking around for two more months trying to seal the deal, I never got a fighting chance. Returning for a rematch this winter I routinely worked my way back to where I'd been - hoping to get an actual shot this year. It was really refreshing to finally session the boulder with someone. @jwebxl and @dawoods89 had teamed up earlier this winter to take it down. Their beta however was of no use for me. Ultimately the boulder is about a friction sloper crux with a barely-there bicycle to gain the slot crimp. Jimmy and Daniel both had the arm-span to bypass this sequence so I was alone fighting my own fight. This low percentage, friction reliant sequence - combined with my skin issues in the desert - made for low odds to catch the conditions I required. Half the "climbing" days consisted of just showing up and not being able to get any grip on the rock. Or do any climbing. It all boiling down to weather watching and very little actual climbing put a big dent in my motivation and made me question whether it's even worthwhile to keep dragging myself out there day after day. Yesterday I sent it. It was quite anticlimactic. It didn't seem like anything that I hadn't already done 10 times. My skin just didn't fail me that time. I'm happy it didn't. All in all, stoked!! Also a lesson to be learned about how not every battle is necessarily worth fighting. I struggle when climbing becomes all about managing external factors and very minimally about the actual climbing. Just hours later another winter storm put an end to climbing here for a while. You're bound to get lucky every now and then! Yes!! 🎰🍾 In-depth video piece coming from @mindframecinema @blackdiamond @lasportivagram
Three ascents of an 8C+ in such a short period of time is an unprecedented feat. The difficulty of each move was estimated by Webb to be 7C to 7C+ with a couple of harder moves thrown in for good measure. Due to differences in reach, Hukkataival was forced to use a friction-dependent sequence that both Webb and Woods could bypass. After multiple unsuccessful attempts over the winter, friction levels and skin condition finally aligned to enable an ascent.
In October 2016, Hukkataival established Burden of Dreams 9A - the first of the grade - at Lappnor, 100km east of Helsinki in Finland. Last month, Charles Albert climbed his project No Kpote Only at Rocher Brûlé in Fontainebleau and gave it a grade of Font 9A, the world's second 9A.
Watch the film of Webb making the first ascent here: