Trice as Nice

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Jamie Emerson eyes the prize on Trice (V12), a short Jim Holloway problem on Boulder’s Flagstaff Mountain that went unrepeated for 32 years. Photo by Andy Mann —

Thirty-two years after its first ascent, one of Colorado’s most famous boulder problems was repeated twice in the same afternoon. Trice (aka A.H.R., or Another Holloway Route) is a short problem at Flagstaff Mountain above Boulder, established in 1975 by Jim Holloway. On November 15, Carlo Traversi sent the problem for its second ascent, and about half an hour later Jamie Emerson did it too.

Neither Traversi nor Emerson used the exact same sequence as Holloway did, which is not surprising since neither has Holloway’s 6-foot-4-inch frame. Both men toed into a high left pocket for a foothold that Holloway did not use, and Traversi started with his right hand in a different spot; he said on his blog, “The different holds that can be used for the start do not add or subtract difficulty from the problem in any way.” Though the consensus among Boulder climbers seems to be that both climbers repeated the problem fair and square, Traversi wrote that he would like to return this winter, “testing my core strength on the move that still hasn't been repeated in the way Holloway did it.”

Both Traversi and Emerson said Trice was V12, with Emerson saying it leans toward the harder end of that grade. Certainly this must have been one of the hardest boulder problems in the world when Holloway sent it in 1975.

Of course, V12 is not at the top end today, so why did it take so long to see a repeat in Boulder, Colorado, where so many strong climbers live? “People have been strong enough to climb it for a long time,” Emerson said. “It just took someone to go up there and put a little work into it. It also seemed conditions-dependent, and I think people weren’t willing to put the time and effort into a contrived, sharp, and hard problem when they could go to more fashionable places like Hueco Tanks or Joe’s Valley.”

Earlier this month, Emerson repeated A.K.R. (Another Karn Route), a Jim Karn problem on the Cloud Shadow boulder that grabs the key hold on Trice with the left hand instead of the right, and had only been repeated once, by Ben Moon. Said Emerson: “Having lived in Boulder for the last six years, [Trice has] always been in the back of my mind. I think there is something to be said for things having historical value, [which] is rare in American bouldering.”

Read more about Trice and see video of each ascent at Traversi’s blog ( and Emerson’s blog (

Date of Ascents: November 15, 2007

Sources: Jamie Emerson,,,

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