Fred Nicole: Le Boa (V15)

posted by dpm on 09/22/2011


Last spring, bouldering legend Fred Nicole completed one of his long term projects near his home in Switzerland.  As usual, the ascent went unreported and Fred has just now posted up about the climb on his Prana blog.  He named the problem Le Boa and remarked, “It is a sit down start on a big snake like looking structure, which also gives the name to the problem. Some powerful moves on pockets underclings that bring you to a tricky traverse with more pockets and a finish with long moves into a big flake.  It ends in another problem called “Mosaik”, rated V11 or 8a. The first four moves are by far the hardest, but the last ten are quite delicate and bring a great dimension to the line.”

Regarding the grade he commented, “Most of the time I don’t grade my boulders anymore, but people are still curious what they could be. On this one my feeling lies around 8c (V15) boulder, as it felt as the hardest boulder I ever did on pockets. For sure the hardest thing since “L’isola che non c’é” and reckoning the time spent on it anyway an important line for me.”

Fred Nicole on Le Boa (V15).  Click the image to watch a Prana profile video of Fred.  The problem Le Boa is shown in the video starting at 1:25.  Photo: Prana blog.  

I never pass up an opportunity to discuss Fred Nicole as I find him to be one of the most intriguing characters in the history of rock climbing.  Fred has been quietly setting standards since the early 1990’s and now at the age of 41 he is still at the top of his game.  Not only is he at the top of his game but he’s still climbing at the cutting edge of difficulty.  While nearly every climber standing on World Cup podiums falls between the ages of 18 and 25, Fred continues to establish boulder problems that are some of the most difficult in the world.  At what age do you think a climber’s ability peaks?  At what age do you think you’ll send your hardest climb?