BD athlete Paul Robinson makes V16 first ascent at Buttermilks, California
Black Diamond athlete Paul Robinson recently was at the Buttermilk boulders near Bishop, California and made the first ascent of Lucid Dreaming, a boulder problem that is being hailed as one of the hardest in the world. Below are Robinson’s thoughts about the problem and what it represents to him, as well as some photos that illustrate the problem's difficulty.
The progression in the sport of bouldering has unfolded before my eyes. I can remember when I was 12 years old and hearing news of some of the very first V13s and V14s being put up around the world by the likes of Frederic Nicole and others. I can also remember watching climbing videos such as “Free Hueco” and “Rampage” where people first witnessed the awe-inspiring climbing ability of Chris Sharma. This is what truly got me psyched on bouldering. As a youth, I did not know what my climbing career was evolving into, however, bouldering was the form of climbing in which from the very beginning I felt most inclined to do.
I can literally remember climbing a first of every single grade outside beginning at V5. I was a young kid and my father would take me to the ‘Gunks on a near weekly basis where I would implement what I had learned in the gym onto the rock in front of me. I remember completely flailing on V5s and having them as my project for multiple trips to the ‘Gunks. Through all of this, climbers like Chris Sharma and Dave Graham were beginning to make their own marks in climbing history with ascents like The Fly in Rumney and Mandala in Bishop, among many other amazing first ascents around the country. I can remember watching climbing movies in my house in New Jersey with my dad and telling him how much I wanted to be in their shoes one day. My dad was a supportive one and told me that without a doubt I would be. I don't know where his knowledge base came from as he had only witnessed a few people in New Jersey climb and watched me do poorly in many rope climbing youth nationals. But nonetheless, it gave me the motivation to not give up and to dedicate my life to the sport that had me completely obsessed.
The past couple of years I have spent a majority of my time attempting to repeat as many of the hardest boulder problems all over the world. Along the way, I have been able to establish a lot of my own problems. All of these climbs, including the ones that I have put up have helped me evolve as a climber. I feel that each climb has prepared me for the next and so on.
Until the other day, I had never established a climb that was at the peak of my ability. In the past few years, I have repeated multiple climbs that I felt were at my max ability at that time and took quite a lot of dedication to get them done. I am so happy to have established a climb that has been a dream of mine to do for so long. This climb I have named Lucid Dreaming and have given the grade of V16/8C+. This climb marks a new point in my climbing career. This is the point that I have dreamed about so many times. I hope that Lucid Dreaming is just one of many amazing and hard first ascents to come.
The climb itself was a testament to both my mental and physical. I had to not only be strong enough to climb it but also had to allow my mind to accept the extended amount of failures it took before eventually making the full line a reality. The line begins up an overhung wall for the first 12 feet or so and then there is a 40-foot slab section to reach the top of the boulder. Climbing the bottom is one thing but then finishing the entire line is another. The bottom overhanging section encompasses some of the worst holds that I have ever grabbed, plus they are very far apart and some of the time you have to jump between them. The top section is a very beautiful and technical slab that is not over until you are at the top. It is really a crazy feeling to switch from such a powerful overhung climb to a technical encompassing slab at the top.
Lucid Dreaming has been a great move forward for me, just like completing that first V5 in the ‘Gunks was many years ago. I look forward to my future in climbing and especially hard bouldering. There are a lot of amazing hard climbs to be done in this world that have yet to be found and I look forward to bringing bouldering to an even greater level with these further discoveries and explorations.