Robinson Gives V16 to New Buttermilks Problem

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Photo courtesy of Big UP Productions

Photo courtesy of Big UP Productions

On March 30, Paul Robinson achieved the first ascent of a long-time project at the Buttermilk boulders in Bishop, calling it LucidDreaming. This line, possibly the second V16 in the U.S., sits on the Grandpa Peabody boulder, just left of Evilution (V12), and links a sit start into RastamanVibration. In 2007 and 2008, Robinson sent then-testpieces Jade and Terremer, both V15, but calls Lucid harder than anything he's done before. He's climbed over 500 days since the Terremer send and competed in both the National and World Cup Bouldering Competitions in training for LucidDreaming. Robinson has also spent time on Daniel Woods' The Game in Boulder Canyon, CO, and is using its difficulty as a basis for his V16 grade.

What brought you to Bishop in the first place? This line has been a project for a long time. I first went to Bishop when I was 14 or 15 years old and knew that I would be back many times. My goal was to work my way from the bottom to the top. My first trip to Bishop, I did my first V9. A few years later, I did my first V12, The Mandala, and after that, I did the remaining hard climbs [Swarm (V14), The Mandalion (V13/14), Spectre (V13)] and even added a direct sit to The Mandala.

Why this line in particular? I knew it was time to continue with my exploration and furthering of the difficulty of the climbs here. The Buttermilks had become my favorite climbing area, and I was psyched to work towards putting up the hardest line here, as well as one of the hardest lines in the country. The progression of my climbing drew me to this line.

Was this problem more or less your style? I would say it's my style. It is short, hard, and very finger-strength oriented.

Describe the crux: The biggest challenge for me was the jump move from the bottom. I had perfected the bottom moves, and each try I kept getting increasingly closer to the final crux move until the day that it all came together. The problem revolves around one single terrible pinch. This is a lefthand pinch, and you have to do a hard move to it and a hard move off of it!

You worked on this for two years. What affect did that have on your psyche? I kept a positive attitude. Each day I tried it I was getting increasingly closer. This got me so psyched to try it and so psyched to get the line done! I think that a first ascent is a really special thing. Unlocking a sequence is such an amazing feeling. And not only unlocking but also just finding a boulder that is climbable is so rad, too... I know I did not find Rastaman, but doing this climb has made me even more psyched on exploring new boulders and establishing new amazing climbs.

What helped push you that final day? The Buttermilks is an extremely dry place 99 percent of the year. It was very difficult for me to get the right friction on such glassy rock. The day that I sent, the air was humid, and it was just enough for the pinch to feel a little bit better and for me to be able to pull off the climb!

How'd you come up with the name? I named it Lucid Dreaming after having an identical dream two nights in a row where I was climbing on the worst pinches imaginable on my home wall. I felt stronger than ever and it got me so psyched to send!

How do you think this compares to Daniel Woods' new V16, The Game? This climb is very different from Daniel's climb. They are difficult to compare - I have tried Daniel's climb and have no doubt in my mind it is V16. It is so hard! Lucid Dreaming feels a great deal harder than anything I have ever done.

What kind of impact do you think this new grade will have on the climbing community? I think it is good, and I know Daniel would agree. If we just sat around and rated hard problems that took us years to do, then bouldering as a sport would not be moving forward. We need to progress the sport and keep it growing and evolving.

What's next? I'm graduating in a couple of months, and my life will evolve from a student/climber to a full-time climber. I am heading on a very long [multi-year] road trip where my goal is to continue to push the limits of bouldering. I want to travel the world in hopes of finding new lines that will be as hard or harder than Lucid Dreaming. I want to leave a mark in the climbing world, and I think that the best way I can do this is to explore and establish amazing new climbs all over! I am so excited for the journey, and I cannot wait to stumble across the next line that is going to be better and harder than anything I have ever seen before.

[For more words on Lucid Dreaming, check out Robinson's blog. The climb will be featured in a Big UP Productions video during the 2010 REEL ROCK Film Tour. For more info, please check out www.reelrocktour.com.]