Last year, after much effort, I climbed Evil Backwards V14 at Lincoln Lake. This remains the hardest bit of climbing I have ever done. What has not remained is the climb itself.
After I repeated it I expected others to downrate it, perhaps for competitive reasons, or perhaps because they felt that it wasn’t that hard. Clearly grades are subjective, and while I felt it was harder than anything I had previously climbed, I knew that it might not hold at V14. I felt some reassurance when visiting Finnish climber Nalle Hukkataival repeated the problem in 3 days and said “It’s just not V13.” This year a number people repeated the line very quickly, commenting on 8a.nu that it was perhaps soft V13. I was a little surprised and I went back to the problem to check it out for myself. It wasn’t clear if their comments were motivated by a change in beta, a change in the hold, or their honest or competitive opinion of the difficulty. After talking to several climbers it was evident that there was no change in beta and I decided to examine the problem itself. I noticed that the right hand crimp, in which the crux revolves around, had gotten bigger. When I took the time to grab the hold properly, I felt something I hadn’t ever felt before, the back of the seam. I grabbed my shoes and repeated the move in a few tries. It felt easier. It is unclear why this hold changed. Perhaps it had just seen more attention, or perhaps someone had “cleaned” it again. Oh well, I thought. Those things happen. It’s a nice thought to have such a personal achievement “set in stone” so to speak, but unfortunately the nature of bouldering at Lincoln Lake is that problems are often changing.
A few weeks later the problem changed dramatically. The first left hand hold that you jump out to went from being a sloping edge to a full-pad incut, dropping the difficulty down to V12. Apparently it had been “cleaned” with a paint scraper and a screwdriver. I’m not sure there is any logic or intelligent thought in the actions of an individual who feels the need to basically chip a problem that had already been climbed by a number of people. It hasn’t taken away from my ascent. I strongly think that Evil Backwards, in the state I climbed it, was the hardest problem I had ever done. It does however take away from other climbers who were looking for that same challenge, and that saddens me more than anything. I understand as well as anyone the exfoliating nature of the rock at Lincoln Lake, but using a screwdriver and a paint scraper on a problem that has been climbed by at least 8 climbers is unacceptable. Please, take the time to clean things properly and when they are clean, leave them alone.