5/16/15 - Japanese boulderer Dai Koyamada has completed his "hardest climbing ever": a long roof seam at the Hiei Mountain area in Miyazaki Prefecture. Koyamada first started working on the line three years ago and sent it on May 8. He has suggested that Horizon is likely hard V15 or V16, but also that it’s difficult to grade because there are so few problems of this length and difficulty to compare it to.
Koyamada, 38, has climbed numerous V15 problems—both new routes and early repeats of existing problems. In 2004 he did the first ascent of the massive Wheel of Life link-up in the Grampians of Australia, a problem variously graded from V14 to V16, as well as a 9a+ (5.15a) route grade. In 2012 he added a low start to Dave Graham’s The Story of Two Worlds in Switzerland, creating a possible V16.
Koyamada’s efforts on Horizon often were hampered by wet weather that caused the crack to seep. But in 2014 he managed to do the line in two sections, with a rest in the middle. He returned this month with his mind set on completing the route. “This might be the last chance for me, considering my age,” he wrote at his blog.
On the day he sent, the crack was wet again, and he stuffed tissue paper into the slots to try to dry them. His early attempts that day were not promising: The day was sunny and warm, and he couldn’t do the crux moves. But he resolved to rehearse the sequences until evening came and the temperature dropped.
He made two good attempts and waited some more, then had two poor goes, struggling with fatigue. “After [the fourth] attempt, I felt I may have lost my concentration. And I was exhausted. It was disappointing that I probably missed the chance because it was going to rain the following couple of days.”
But the temperature continued to drop, and he figured he might as well try one more time. After resting and eating a bit, Koyamada said he felt refreshed. With lights shining under the long roof, he smoothly made it to the crux no-foot moves. After the crux swing, he said, “Similar to the second attempt, I missed catching the tiny right foot hold, but this time I was calm enough to recover and put my foot onto it.”
Koyamada rested for a moment above the lip and then climbed the remaining five meters to the top by headlamp.
“Before finishing this project, I was afraid that I would burn out and might lose motivation for climbing. But this never happened. I am already obsessed with other projects, a lot of projects.”
Date of Ascent: May 8, 2015