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Projects Are Falling at Lincoln Lake

Raboutou and Woods repeat “Insomniac” (V16); Puccio does “We Can Build You” (V14) twice in a row; Ruana FA's his "hardest yet"

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Send temps have descended upon the Colorado alpine—and hard climbs are starting to go down. Last week, Shawn Raboutou made the long-awaited second ascent of Drew Ruana’s Insomniac at Lincoln Lake—a feat that Daniel Woods, who’d worked the line off and on through the hot summer, replicated on Tuesday. Then Alex Puccio sent her summer project, We Can Build You—twice. And last month Drew Ruana did what may be his hardest boulder to date.

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We Can Build You

Alex Puccio started trying We Can Build You this summer, but “didn’t take it that seriously in the beginning.” 

“I was really just playing on it, trying it in sections so I could slowly figure out my beta.” She made sure to take days off of it to work on other climbs and repeatedly tried it “either second day on or having already done another boulder that day in the V10 to V12 range.” (As a result of this tactic, her other sends from Lincoln Lake this summer include Dismantling the Enemy, V12, The Overcling Traverse, V12, Phobos, V11, and Tattooed Teardrops, V10.) After perfecting her beta through the summer, however, Puccio climbed the boulder from the third move to the top multiple times over the course of two sessions. “That’s when I decided I should start making more of an effort.”

On her final session, the first time she tried the boulder fresh, she sent—and then sent again. Intending to re-climb sections of it to get better footage, she ended up taking it all the way. “It’s funny,” she told 8a.nu, “when you take the pressure away from your mind how much different things can feel.”

Puccio has been one of the world’ premier boulderers for more than a decade–and at 33 is only getting stronger. She says her training is pretty basic: She supplements her outdoor session with two or three gym days per week and is “working more on being consistent as well as listening to my body VERY closely. I still have some older injuries that flare up from time to time. Doing PT exercises and staying on top of strengthening the ‘weaker’ parts of my body help me stay healthier so that I can push myself harder and continue getting stronger as I get older.”

In addition to climbing and training, Puccio now runs a personal training company with her husband, Robin O’Leary. They specialize in designing fully remote personalized training programs for clients ranging from beginners to professionals. “I also love helping people tackle the mental side of climbing and performing,” Puccio noted. “Climbing is very physical, but the mental part of climbing is just as important, and since it’s not as obvious it tends to be one of the harder aspects to work on.”

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Insomniac 

Insomniac tackles the eight-move V13 opening sequence of Jimmy Webb’s Wheel of Wolvo into the starting jug of Dave Graham’s We Can Build You. “The first section is the most physically demanding part, sapping a lot of power before the end,” Ruana wrote on Instagram after making the first ascent in July 2021, “The second half is a power endurance nightmare, making for a 30-move frenzy of hard moves with a heartbreaker at the end. I think I put around 10 days of effort with probably 20 falls near the end from various starts.”

Since Ruana established it last year, Insomniac has repelled efforts by some of America’s strongest climbers, including Matt Fultz, who popped a pulley on it last October, and Taylor McNeil, who joined the V16 club last spring. Raboutou’s repeat last week involved an on-brand no-hands kneebar and was followed up by the off-brand release of a timely little Instagram video:

Woods’ process on the climb was, in some ways, more than a decade in the making. He sent the second half of the climb, We Can Build You, in 2010, and did the first part of the boulder into two different exits—Wheel of Wolvo (V14/15) and Delirium (V15)—in 2014. But, as he noted on Instagram earlier this year, “this connection [Insomniac] was the main prize. [But back then] I wasn’t at the level though to send it. Since then my vision and confidence as a climber has dramatically improved. The connection is possible. I love that about climbing.”

Writing on Instagram after the send, he noted that “back in the day this line seemed very futuristic. The original way of doing We Can Build You (2nd part) was way more powerful and low percentage. The new heel hook beta makes the crux high percentage, thus making the full connection seem probable. We originally thought We Can Build You was hard 14 but now it feels more like hard 13. Insomniac is on the cusp of 15/16, but do feel like it is harder than most 15s I’ve done in this style. Insomniac is a daunting task to take on.”

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Distortion

Drew Ruana, meanwhile, hasn’t been sitting idly by. Last month, he put down what may be Lincoln Cave’s hardest link yet: Distortion (V16). 

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