First Graham, Then Woods: A New CO V15
3/12/13 - Daniel Woods rapidly repeated Dave Graham's brand-new problem The Bridge of Ashes yesterday, calling it "one of my favorite problems that I have climbed." The problem sits near the road at the Elkland boulders (aka Nicky's Boulders or The Billiards) near Estes Park, Colorado.
Woods partly credits his send to Elkland's conditions: "very cold, dry wind... snow flurries... and just the right amount of moisture to stick perfectly." He completed the moves in only one session, but called the boulder "hard. It is powerful, finicky, and requires precision." Though he didn't comment specifically on the grade (i.e., confirm or deny), he did say it was the second-hardest boulder problem in Colorado he's climbed.
3/11/13 - Dave Graham finished his project at the Elkland boulders near Estes Park, Colorado: The Bridge of Ashes (V15).
Graham wrote a blog post last week detailing his efforts on this problem, saying he had been focusing on working out the moves over the past month. (This was the project he mentioned in an interview at ABS Nationals in February.) He found the boulder last year, but didn't make as much promise as hoped: "The main problem over the last year was an unsolvable transition. I would arrive with my hand pinky down in a right-handed crack-like feature, where the crux moves started, but could only continue rom [sic] that position with my pinky out, and going three fingers in the crack ring finger down. I lost syke [sic] after never realizing the answer to the riddle."
After completing Paul Robinson's Meadowlark Lemon (V15) at Las Vegas' Gateway Boulders in January, Graham attempted several of the Front Range's hardest problems, including Mirror Reality (V14), The Game (V15), and Hypnotized Minds (V15; all are Daniel Woods first ascents). However, he was turned away by lack of progress or weather conditions. He returned to The Bridge of Ashes and worked out new beta that avoids the move that previously spit him off. (Click here to read his detailed beta.) Feeling confident except for his skin—"The crystals in the rock are all you stick to, and destroy the skin. The terrible left hand crux hold, a heinous less-than-quarter-pad mini-edge, is a tip splitter and session ender, adding terror to the equation ever attempt"—Graham went back on Friday, March 8, and climbed the problem. Cameron Maier, on hand to film the ascent, said on the blog, "DG booted up a few times, expectations didn't get too high, but then all of a sudden he was on top of that damn boulder screaming his lungs out in joy of his earned victory."
And then, in quintessential Dave Graham style, he "ran up the hill" and immediately climbed a new highball arête, a V11 called Smooth Criminal.
Check out island.io for video stills of Graham's The Bridge of Ashes ascent.
Date of ascents: March 8-11, 2013