Paul Robinson climbing well

Posted on 03. Mar, 2011 by in News

Paul Robinson has been traveling for a while now and has been on an absolute tear. He has been touring the world and repeating many of the hardest problems around. Paul climbed one of, if not the hardest problem in South Africa, Monkey Wedding, which he suggested an uprate to V15 from Fred’s original grade of V14. He then went to Switzerland and climbed Big Paw (which he suggested a downrate to V14) and 6 other V14 boulders problems. He has repeated From the Dirt Grows the Flowers (left variant) V15 and added a new V15 of his own, Ill Trill in Magic Wood. If that wasn’t enough his rampage continued in the famed forest of Fontainebleau, where he repeated Trip Hop V15, 4 more V14s, 8 V13s all sandwiched around a quick tick of The Ace V13, at Stanage in the UK. He has climbed almost 30 V14s since his first, Echale, in Clear Creek Canyon. It has been a very impressive trip and I am sure there is more to come.
One thing I find very interesting about this is that, in terms of repeating hard problems, I’m not sure anyone in the world has a more impressive or comprehensive list. It would be extremely daunting to be an up and coming climber trying to best such a list. Will the progression of climbing in the future demand such gigantic lists, either from sponsors or from a technical climbing standpoint? Are these huge ticklists the product of incredible motivation to climb, or have they become an end in themselves, and how has 8a affected this? Perhaps in three years Paul will use all of the experience he has gained recently to do something so difficult that it will really be a step beyond what has been done already. This speculative ascent could perhaps not been achieved without first having climbed hard at so many different areas. At some point he will actually start running out of things to do, as hard to believe as that may be, and it will be curious as to what happens next. Regardless, his climbing is to be commended.

VIDEO PROFILE: Paul Robinson bouldering in Switzerland from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

BD athlete Paul Robinson bouldering in Fontainebleau, France from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

27 Responses to “Paul Robinson climbing well”

  1. PatC

    03. Mar, 2011

    It seems that he just crushed anything he puts his mind to.

  2. PatC

    03. Mar, 2011


  3. Ben Montgomery

    03. Mar, 2011

    Nice write up!

  4. joe

    03. Mar, 2011

    “Perhaps in three years Paul will use all of the experience he has gained recently to do something so difficult that it will really be a step beyond what has been done already”

    Didn’t he already do this?

  5. nietzsche

    03. Mar, 2011

    “Perhaps in three years Paul will use all of the experience he has gained recently to do something so difficult that it will really be a step beyond what has been done already”

    – Lucid Dreaming?

  6. B3

    03. Mar, 2011

    I was referring to something harder.

  7. matt

    03. Mar, 2011

    He also puts up new hard lines which is not easy to do especially at that level.
    I think his vision for new hard lines will probably have to grow considering he might run out of difficult problems to repeat.

    Where will he take his talents? Hopefully not to south beach.

  8. max

    03. Mar, 2011

    I´m mainly a sport climber so my opinion is a little biased but I tend to think like Sharma, the future of bouldering is bouldery routes ! Think FRFM, la capella …
    I really want to see DW and PR tied to a rope…

  9. Scott

    03. Mar, 2011


    DW has clipped the chains on a 9a+. He’s no slouch on the sharp end when he decides to do something. It would be interesting to see him on a rope more but frankly, I’m content seeing what he can manage on boulders for now.

  10. Nic

    03. Mar, 2011

    OMG… A pro-Paul WRITE UP ON B3??? who would have thought? I never thought I would see the day! Good job Jamie.

  11. Michael

    03. Mar, 2011

    <<<<<<< is not in shock

  12. micah

    03. Mar, 2011

    @ Scott: What 9a+ did DW do?

    @ Max: P-Rob did the second ascent of a 9a in Utah (put up by DG) and almost sent Dream Catcher. I think this is a scary glimpse into what he is capable of doing on a rope. I am interested in why people choose different styles of climbing versus others? Power versus endurance, trad vs sport, etc.

  13. Mark

    03. Mar, 2011

    haha. I feel like Nic.

    Good stuff though. Daniel seems to think that the Invisible Man proj is right up Paul’s alley… too bad that he’s not planning on being back in the states for a while…

  14. micah

    03. Mar, 2011

    Oh yeah, Jaws II

  15. Keenan

    04. Mar, 2011

    I don’t know if anyone has done this yet, but I compared Paul’s ticklist in the past year on 8a to Fred Nicole’s lifetime list. It is rather impressive, and almost the same. (This comment is not meant to take away anything from Fred’s accomplishments and importance to bouldering, which I doubt have been reached by anyone else yet, so much as to emphasize how strong Paul is right now.) Obviously, it is much harder and time-consuming to be searching and doing first ascents, but I thought that it was surprisingly similar.
    As for Paul climbing the next hardest problem in the world, I have no doubt in my mind that it will happen in the next few years, and then again a few years (or less) later. Paul worked Lucid Dreaming over 2 years of time, so if he finds a project now that is as hard as LD was for him when he first started trying it, it seems like it must be another level, but I still think that he will able to complete it.
    I don’t think, however, that he will run out of problems, unless we are talking only of established problems. If this does happen, then I think that he will just begin searching and doing more and more FA’s.
    Speaking of projects that Paul has found, check his blog, where he has photos of a gorgeous overhung line in Switzerland.

  16. Jabroni

    04. Mar, 2011

    You were in an interview at some stage Jamie, where you said V13 was nothing special and the real cutting edge was V14-V16. I thought it was odd at the time and still do. When you look at the prolific ascents of these hard climbers, they are not totally unprecedented (Fred Nicole?), but they are way out on the edge of the data.

    A glance at tells the truth: V11 remains the standard for very, very good climbers, reported rarely and only with significant work. Only a few people (6? 4?) consistently climb 1+ grades higher – some due to availability of hard climbs, others due to physical limitations. Someone may flash V14 at some stage, but it’s clear we’re not progressing at anything near the rate we were during the 70’s and 80’s. V17 may be consolidated at some point in the future, or 9c, but realistically, how much further can we go? How many people truly climb V13+ *regularly*? It used to be Sharma/Graham, now it’s Woods/Robinson. Still only two guys. One skinny, one beefier. It’s ShaGraham 2!

  17. sidepull

    05. Mar, 2011

    I’m wondering if:

    A) Such long lists are necessary to have the legitimacy to claim the next big grade. For example, it’s odd that Lucid Dreaming isn’t mentioned at all in the list and, on this blog, is continually assumed to be much softer than it is. So, even given Paul’s accomplishments which give credence to the fact that he’s one of the few climbers that actually could have a reasonable opinion about what v16 is, there still seems to be a tendency to doubt it. So I think the lists are almost required by the more skeptical culture that’s developed around climbing (likely accelerated by the internet).

    B) As Jamie implies, it’s likely that Paul is just building a base that will allow him to achieve new things. No one climbs a boulder at one grade then jumps to the next grade and the next grade. Everyone works at a level before breaking through to the next one.

    C) This still seems like a not so subtle dig at Paul, eg: Let’s commend him for his accomplishments … BUT why hasn’t he done more? I realize this post also provides a nice critique of the industry (sponsors) and I think all the critiques are valid, but it still seems to suggest a certain level of bias. Sorry to keep bringing that up – if Jamie and I ever meet I’ll let him punch me in the arm.


  18. Nick

    05. Mar, 2011

    Adam Ondra is taking a similar approach on the sport climbing end… repeating the established testpieces… this is the future and will keep the next generation humble- the cutting edge will always be reached by first managing the “fabric” that came before

  19. B3

    05. Mar, 2011

    @sidepull, I am sorry you see things that way. This post was meant to be complimentary towards Paul’s recent achievement, as was my post on Lucid Dreaming, where I wrote

    “This is a classic and difficult problem and it’s great to see it finally get climbed. I want to emphasize that much more than the grade of the problem, the classic and difficult nature of the boulder, and it’s central location in one of the best bouldering areas in the country make this a significant contribution.”

  20. Adam M

    05. Mar, 2011

    I can’t believe there is a “pro-Paul” write up here either.

    I think I just won a bet I made with Paul in Africa. Never thought we’d see the day!

    He is an incredibly talented rock climber and deserves a nice write up on his accomplishments on a popular climbing website.

  21. Mang

    06. Mar, 2011

    Would you ever hit someone in the arm for speaking their mind?

  22. Mathieu

    07. Mar, 2011

    It seems like PRob would have almost climbed TSOTW:

  23. ktmt

    07. Mar, 2011

    This post reads completely pro-Robinson to me and asks reasonable questions. With such an incredible base of hard ascents gathered from areas and rock types around the world, we should all be bursting with excitement to see what Robinson will do to *really* leave his mark on the world of climbing. Can he produce an iconic problem for the current generation (think Midnight Lightning, Dreamtime and the Mandala)? Maybe Lucid Dreaming or Ill Trill will be, but we don’t know yet, not until there are repeats and consensus on grade, quality and the less tangible “essence.” None of this, including Jamie’s original post, diminishes Robinson’s mutant accomplishments.

  24. Adam M

    08. Mar, 2011

    Yeah, I talked to Paul the other day and saw the vid of when he hit the tree. Heartbreaking!

    He was pretty bummed to say the least. Shit happens, but he’ll send soon. His beta is so nice through the whole thing, then the damn heal slipped and he kicked the tree. Bullocks.

    Wish I could say “I would’ve sent that v15 but dabbed the tree.” I’d call it good and retire…

  25. Jabroni

    08. Mar, 2011

    the story of two worlds is V16 (8C+) now?

  26. Mojo

    08. Mar, 2011

    At ktmt:

    There is no need for more consensus on quality and “essence” for Lucid Dreaming . . . if you ever get a chance to make it out to Bishop and see it in person, it’s a pure and un-contrived line on one of the most spectacular boulders in the world. The holds and movement look amazing as well. It’s also highball as shit, a fact that is hard to understand from looking at pictures and video. You’re not really on the gimme slab until you are WAY up there.

  27. Robert Nejedly

    12. Mar, 2011

    I don’t think there are any 8c+ (V16) in the world yet. In my opinion Lucid Dreaming and The Game are Hard 8c (V15). Only time will tell. After several repeats!

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