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Shinichiro Nomura, from Ibaraki, Japan, made his transition from plastic to the outdoors in December 2017. Dreaming of Yosemite, he started bouldering locally in order to acclimate to real rock. He’s since put down 32 boulders over V14.
“I’ve been trapped by bouldering,” he told Climbing over email.
Nomura began climbing at age 9. He went on to place first in Juniors Lead and Bouldering categories in the Asian Youth Championships and seventh in the 2016 Youth World Championships. It’s been four years since he transitioned outdoors, and the 25-year-old has been ticking hard boulders one after the other. Earlier this year he upped the ante and made the first ascent of Gakido (V16), his first of the grade. Since its discovery 20 years ago, Gakido was one of Japan’s longest-standing projects and received numerous attempts by V16 crushers, including Ryuichi Murai.
Nomura began projecting Gakido after being invited to set in a gym in Fukushima Prefecture. The boulder is nearby, so the owner of the gym suggested Nomura give it a go, telling him, “Everyone thinks it’s impossible to solve. … You should try it!” Nomura went the next day.
“When I saw the boulder in person, all of the holds and the difficulty went beyond what I thought,” he wrote. The crux, however, seemed possible and he immediately got to work.
The boulder is just four desperate moves, followed by the topout of the neighboring V6. At first, climbing through the crux move—a deadpoint off a right slopey sidepull and a no-shadow foot to a left sidepull—felt too hard, despite his initial optimism. Nomura left feeling dejected.
“After a few days passed, the impression of the crux was stuck in my brain, so I researched more about the project,” he wrote. “Asking climbers who have tried it, all of them said ‘I feel it’s possible but I also feel it’s impossible.’ I had the same contradictory feeling.
“Then I reset myself and remembered what I must consistently think while climbing: Have curiosity about the unknown. This is the reason I’ve been keen on not only in competitions but also on rock. I really want to know and explore the maximum level of climbing. The crux of Gakido is unknown. To send it meant pushing the limit which has stood for 20 years in Japanese climbing.”
Nomura went back for round two and then sent on day three. He called it Gakido for his climbing team, “Rokudo,” which means The Six Paths in Buddhist cosmology. Gakido is one of those six realms.
Nomura trains six days a week, one to two hours per session, working on powerful boulders on a spray wall. Being 5’3”, Nomura wrote that he focuses on reachy moves.
Nomura tried other V16s prior to sending Gakido, including Off the Wagon Sit in Switzerland and Floatin, United, and Nayuta in Japan. He hopes to go back for Floatin and Nayuta this year. “After that, I want to try boulders abroad,” he wrote.
And the dream of climbing big walls hasn’t left him. “I don’t have any specific route in mind, but I still really want to go to Yosemite.”