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Daniel Woods Climbs Bishop's Hardest

Submitted by camhead on 2015-01-18 | Last Modified on 2015-01-19

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by Paul Nelson

The term "mega-project" gets thrown around a lot these days, but in the case of the last week, two climbs that can undeniably claim the title have gone down. Of course, Dawn Wall was "mega" not just because of its difficulty, but because of its aesthetically blank face, its prominence on an obvious part of El Cap, and yes, the attention it gained from some of the best climbers over the past half-dozen years. Something went down recently on the Little Bigrocks of Bishop that is similar.

On January 19, Daniel Woods sent a simple text to UKclimbing, stating simply "Yea man I just took it down. Crazy process." Climbingnarc's facebook page tells us that this new problem will be called simply "The Process."

Here are the details: This new line on the Grandpa Peabody Boulder is not only cutting-edge in terms of difficulty, but it also gets pretty high off the deck. In Bishop's Buttermilks, where the likes of Jason Kehl, Kevin Jorgeson, Alex Honnold, and others have long blurred the line between bouldering and soloing, the Grandpa Peabody stands out as perhaps the most iconic feature of the area. It is high and steep, and problems that top out its overhung face tend to have both hard roof climbing, and V-tenuous slab moves way off the deck.

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Grandpa (right) and Grandma (left) Peabody boulders in Bishop, with a tiny person for scale. The hardest climbs on the Grandpa follow the steep face on the far right.

Some sane climbers in the past established problems that dropped off of Grandpa Peabody at the point where the boulder bulges back to more vertical, and where your feet are about a dozen feet from the ground. However, in 2002, Jason Kehl began venturing above this lip, taking a few massive falls before establishing "Evilution" (v11). The problem was made famous by a video featured on the old school and now-defunct site "climbxmedia." The height and difficulty of the line, as well as Kehl's shrieking, skulleted Goth persona, both played up the dark and scary nature of the highball bouldering that was exploding in Bishop.

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Kehl topping out "Evilution." Photo taken from Kehls' blog.

Shortly thereafter, Jared Roth added "Rastaman Vibration (v12)" to the left of Evilution, a line that was just as high and scary as its neighbor, but with a harder start that still thwarts most would-be repeaters. In 2011, Paul Robinson added a sit-start to this line, calling the full version "Lucid Dreaming," and giving it a grade of v16, the world's hardest. Robinson later downgraded the route himself, even before it saw a repeat by Woods.

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Woods on the second ascent of "Lucid Dreaming." "The Process" climbs steeper rock to the right.

Which brings us back to Woods' mega-project "The Process." This line sits on steeper terrain, to the right of "Lucid Dreaming" and "Evilution." Like its neighbors, it is not an entirely new, independent line, but rather extends to the top an existing v13 drop-off established by Matt Birch. Continuing above this drop-off point is apparently one more v14 move, followed by a v10 topout that is approaching "don't fall" territory. The full line had been attempted by many strong boulderers, including Carlo Traversi and California native Dan Beale.

This new problem adds to Woods' existing ticklist of astronomically hard boulders. It is also one of only a handful of potential v16s in the world, along with "Lucid Dreaming," Woods' own "The Game" in Boulder Canyon, CO, "Gioai" in Italy, and Adam Ondra's "Terranova" in the Czech Republic. Given the extremely small pool of talent in the world that climbs at this level, the v16 grade is still being consolidated and debated, but it is safe to say that Woods is probably the best authority on hard bouldering in the world at this point.

At any rate, the difficulty, height, history, and position of "The Process" and Grandpa Peabody make this a significant ascent. Who will repeat it?

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3 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

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Few things to note: Paul downgraded Lucid Dreaming himself before anyone repeated it. Carlo downgraded The Game with different beta. If anything, I think the running candidates for V16 are Gioa, Terranova, Bugeleisen Sit, The Process, and honestly, given the lack of repeats, Hypnotized Minds.
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Thanks, Juststrange, I've changed the downgrade info on Lucid Dreaming.
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Jared Roth>>>>>> blast from the past! The dread-head SLC equivalent to Dave Graham. What happened to these guys?

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