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Jimmy Webb and Carlo Traversi Establish Yosemite’s Hardest Boulder Problem

Tierrany is the Yosemite National Park's first boulder problem to be graded V14—though it may not be the first V14.

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Early this week, Jimmy Webb and Carlo Traversi climbed the most difficult boulder problem in Yosemite Valley to date: Tierrany. They graded it V14. Traversi first brushed off the bloc back in 2013, but didn’t start seriously trying it until two seasons ago. Within the last few weeks, he teamed up with fellow strongman Jimmy Webb. Together they sorted out the crux and put the problem to bed.

“One of my favorite things to do in this world is to climb and try rad projects in Yosemite Valley,” Webb wrote on Instagram. “This one is steep, powerful, fingery, 30 moves long, with a heartbreaker mantle finish. Kiiiinda got it all! I was amped to make the first ascent of this beast with Carlo literally running up it right after.”

The problem begins with a sit-start off a right-hand edge and a left-hand undercling, with the first three moves being the crux. “Super burly, smash and grab style off a bad, thin incut pinch,” Traversi told Climbing. “Probably V13 for these moves. Then a couple more moves of V11 get you to a large sloping shelf.”

Beyond the shelf is a jug rail that would make a decent rest, if it weren’t for a poorly positioned adjacent boulder that forces an awkward body position and a lot of weight into the climbers’ arms.

“After a little shake at the end of the rail, you rock over some high feet and finish with a V9 sloper belly top out,” Traversi said. “No real holds for the top out, you just hug the wall and push down as hard as you can.”

Carlo Traversi climbing the upper section of Tierrany. The problem begins on the ground below to the right, next to the log seen in the photo, then moves up and traverses over shelf to then top out the block. “It would be a massive highball if not for the tiered landing,” Traversi said. Photo: Carlo Traversi

Webb and Traversi are among the strongest climbers in the game. Both have ticked V16 and 5.15. Traversi also notably made the second ascent of Beth Rodden’s Meltdown, an iconic and notorious Valley crack. Tierrany is the first problem in Yosemite to receive the V14 grade, though Traversi suggests it might not be the first V14 problem.

“There may already be V14 in the Valley before this one,” Traversi said. “It’s hard to say for sure. We’ve kept the grades rather stiff over the years. That being said, I think this one is the hardest so far.”

As bouldering grades have risen over the years to include V14, V15, V16, and V17, Yosemite seemed to have a V13 ceiling. So why hasn’t the most-famous climbing destination in the country kept up?

“Yosemite is a really tricky area for hard climbing,” Traversi said. “It’s not a place where you can show up and immediately have success. You have to put in the time to learn the nuances of the rock.”

That is not to say that the opportunity for futuristic boulders is not there, as Webb explains: “The potential is overwhelming and the project list seems to grow every season, yet unfortunately given the difficulty of these lines and the fickleness of the granite, many lines remain undone.”

“However, that will change pretty soon,” Traversi adds. “Jimmy and I have both gotten close to some projects that will be in the V15/16 range, the sends just haven’t quite lined up yet.”

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