posted by dpm on 06/15/2013
Nalle Hukkataival has sent a long-standing project in Magic Wood, Switzerland. Though he hasn't suggested a grade of difficulty for this beautiful line, those familiar with it seem to suggest that it may be "next level" for an area that already has some V15's like In Search of Time Lost and Practice of the Wild. Nalle writes on his blog:
This beautiful project caught my eye the very first time I saw it on my first trip to Magic Wood back in 2004 and being one of the most striking lines in Magic Wood, it’s hard to walk past it without at least giving it a thought. It’s one of the first lines ever brushed in Magic Wood and over 10 years later it still hasn’t seen an ascent. Until today! This trip I finally unlocked a sequence that I’ve tried a few times over the years without success. After spending a few days trying the line this trip, today I finally topped it out and the The Understanding was born! Going through the process of doubting if it’s possible to standing on top of the boulder was a big thing for me and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect boulder problem! Thank you everyone who were there for the pads and the support!
The Understanding in Magic Wood, Switzerland. Photo: Nalle's Facebook
It's entirely speculation to suggest that this problem may be extremely difficult or even Magic Wood's hardest. But that speculation is based on the obvious beauty of the line at an area visited by countless world class climbers. Surely, since it was one of the first problems cleaned at Magic Wood, many have attempted it. Could it potentially be V16? We got some of Nalle's thoughts on V16 and beyond in an interview published in our latest issue. Below is a quick excerpt. Read the whole interview here.
For you personally, what do you think are some of the hardest established problems in the world? What about projects? Have you found some V16 or potentially V17 boulders?
It’s really tricky to name the hardest boulders in the world, but there’s a small bunch that are a testament of difficulty in their particular style making comparison between them impossible. Many of the top boulderers today are so specialized in one thing that they can climb very hard problems in their specific style, but put them on something that’s their anti-style and see what happens...
There are lots of hard to impossible projects I can think of around the world, but the thing is, you can’t really tell how hard they are before all the moves have been done at least. I’m working on my Sisu project back in Finland which is just ridiculously hard. And when I say that, people don’t really understand what I mean. It's not just one but several grades harder than any boulder climbed so far if it’s even possible. After trying it for over 4 years now, I’ve done 5 out of about 19 moves on it. For comparison, I can pretty much without exception do all the moves on a V15 boulder in a session and get some good links.
I don’t think an 8C+/V16 boulder exists yet, not on the modern standard anyway. A few that might be close are either chipped or contrived traverses and drop-offs. If we were to consider these, we might as well include gym problems if creating boulders is accepted.
I have no doubts we’re already capable of climbing 8C+, but finding a boulder of that exact difficulty is very hard on its own. At that level the gap between the problem being too easy and impossible is hair thin, so finding a project that falls perfectly in between those two is easier said than done. To make it even trickier, you can only find out which it is after investing a lot of time into a project.
Also grading first ascents is a really difficult task, especially at the top level. What is much easier is saying what grade the problem is not. When some boulder is heralded as the hardest boulder in the world again in the media, you go repeat it and ask yourself a simple question: What makes this boulder a step harder than the others? So far the answer has usually been: nothing. There needs to be a noticeable step up first and then we can start building on that.
Time will tell if Nalle's new boulder is a "noticeable step up" but it's certainly one of the prettiest lines in the world. Well done Nalle.
The Understanding. Photo: Stefan Schlumpf/Nalle's blog