I don’t hide the fact that I enjoy lists, and most serious boulderers I know make tick lists of all kinds. Every year I make a list of problems I’d like to do in Colorado for the summer and the winter, and then area specific lists for places I think I may visit, e.g Joe’s Valley or Hueco Tanks. However, it is always fun to dream of far off places, to think about lines I’ve seen or tried before, problems I have seen videos of, or others I have only heard about. Some are in new areas and others I’ve visited hundreds of time. Bouldering has provided me with nearly endless possibilities to explore and interact with the world and it’s always just a little exciting to take the time and write down those options (especially when the weather has been as cold and as miserable as it has been here in Colorado). I have split this list into an American section and an International section, and I will write a later post on the international ones. There is some part of me that would literally climb every single problem in the world if I were given the chance, however that scenario is unlikely. More realistic is that there are a certain few problems which rise to the top (for a variety of reasons) and its nice to think about trying to climb those. Here is my lifetime ticklist. The asterisk designates ones I’ve already climbed, and I’ve written a few stories or interesting facts about several of the problems. I’m interested to hear about your dream problems and I would encourage you to write about them in the comments!
Dominated V13, Yosemite NP
Dominated is a nearly perfect overhang. Simple, powerful and hard. There is a fabulous article in an old climbing magazine about Jerry Moffat doing the FA of the stand, The Dominator. Just a stone’s throw from Midnight Lightning.
Yabo Roof V12, Yosemite NP
In 2003 I visited Yosemite NP with Angie Payne. I was injured and didn’t climb much but I spotted her on her send of the iconic Midnight Lightening, also on my list. We met up with Tommy Caldwell, and after running laps on many of the classics, he took us to an incredible project underneath El Capitan. I was blown away. Tommy had been trying one of the best problems I had ever seen, and it was just off the road. He got close that day, and as I recall I helped figure out a new sequence which he used on the send. Tommy climbed the problem later that year, naming it after the iconic Yosemite climber John “Yabo” Yablonski.
Thriller V10, Yosemite NP
A classic and beautiful problem, with a perfectly flat landing (although rumor has it Ron Kauk, the first ascentionist, may have stacked pallets on the jumble rocks at the base to make the landing more flat, covered them with dirt and no one would know or care.) Many feel this is a better problem than Midnight Lightning.
Midnight Lightning V8, Yosemite NP
Black Lung V13, Joe’s Valley
The classic Ben Moon FA from Joe’s Valley. I’ve tried this one off and on for years and had my fingers in the last hold. Good conditions are imperative. For me the beauty of the line, the quality of the rock, the history and the difficulty all make this very appealing. A great name from Steven Jeffery, I might add. Here is a worthwhile video (although the quality is poor) of the FA.
Trent’s Mom V10, Joe’s Valley *
The Wind Below V7, Joe’s Valley *
This is probably the best V7 in the country. An incredible problem.
Beyond Life V10, Joe’s Valley *
The first trip I took to Joe’s Valley I stumbled upon this beautiful problem. Aesthetics for me are very important and this is one of the most aesthetics walls in the country. The defining feature is the beautiful blue streak which drips down the middle of the black wall.
The Shield V11, Little Rock City
Voted by Urban Climber Magazine as the best problem in America. I disagree (the landing isn’t flat, it’s contrived, I digress) but it is gorgeous and the rock is immaculate. One of the most aesthetic pieces of rock anywhere. Another problem I tried as a project, and Tony Lamiche, the visiting Frenchman did the FA a year later.
Golden Harvest V10, Rocktown *
Golden Harvest stands out as a classic among classics in the perfect boulderfields of the South East. I climbed this problem in a session in 2006 on a quick two day trip to Chattanooga.
God Module V11, HP40 *
Four perfect moves on perfect Alabama sandstone. Perhaps the most coveted tick in the South East. Climbed in 3 days in 2006. James Litz climbed the problem in his tennis shoes.
Millipede V6, HP40 *
Landslide V9, HP40 *
Bushpilot V11, RMNP *
Nuthin’ But Sunshine V13, RNMP *
This problem, more than any other, motivated my move to Colorado in 2001. I spent 3 years and more than 90 days of effort to climb Nuthin’ But Sunshine. It is probably more important to me personally than any other problem I have ever climbed. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of hard climbing and alpine bouldering. Although there is now an easier heel hook method, I did Dave’s original beta, making the crux move one of the sweetest around.
Whispers of Wisdom V10, RMNP *
Right Side of the Red Wall V4, Flagstaff Mtn.
There is a story in Stone Crusade (the classic John Sherman tome) about Pat Ament climbing this devious problem in penny loafers. For this reason alone I went up one blisteringly cold afternoon 9 years ago and climbed this less than classic line.
Pinch Overhang V5, Horsetooth Reservoir *
One of the most classic and historical problems in all of America. The mantel is every bit as tenuous as advertised, and the pinch is one of the coolest holds around. Although the jumpstart is considered valid, I made a point to pull on and do the move to the lip static, ala Holloway.
Sunseeker V13, Mt Evans
Flux for Life V13, Endovalley
Top Notch V13, RMNP
No More Greener Grasses V12, Mt. Evans *
Right Martini V12, Hueco Tanks *
The Shining Path V13, Red Rocks
Wet Dream V12, Red Rocks
Stand and Deliver V11, Red Rocks
Slashface V13, Hueco Tanks *
The first climbing video I ever bought, Free Hueco, finished with Chris Sharma climbing this iconic Fred Nicole line. I still remember sitting in my college dorm in awe and never thinking I would even see the problem, let alone have the chance to climb it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed with this one, and I almost did it on my second day. The stress built greatly on the next two days, after negative progress and I wasn’t sure it would happen. I knew something needed to change, and I took a step back, and remembered how lucky and motivated it made me feel to have come so far. The last thought I had before I stepped on the wall was that there was no place in the world I would rather be, than standing underneath Slashface about to climb it. And I did. For me it was one of my best moments as a climber.
Full Service V10, Hueco Tanks *
Right after I climbed Slashface I walked over and did this, and then finished my day on the Maiden. It’s a rare day to climb three 4 star problems in Hueco Tanks and this was one of my best days ever.
The Feather V11, Hueco Tanks *
Jingus Bells V5, Hueco Tanks *
The Spectre V13, Bishop
I’m not a huge fan of the rock in Bishop, but this one is so pure, so stunning and so proud that it has to make this list. This maybe the problem I’d most like to do on the American list that I have yet to climb.
The Mandala V12, Bishop
The Swarm V13, Bishop
Something from Nothing V12, Great Barrington *
This problem is, in my opinion, one of the best I have ever seen. The rock is nearly perfect, and although it is somewhat short, the directness of the line, the flat landing, the obvious staring hold make it a solid 4 star problem. Much better than expected and I was glad to climb it, before it broke, and in a day.
Satan on a Halfshell V10, Rumney
A beautiful swirling overhang at the bottom of the hill, I tried but failed in 12 degree weather.
Child of the Storm V13, Pawtuckaway
Iron Resolution V13, Joshua Tree
Ghetto Methods V10, Red River Gorge *
A long time ago there was a blurb in a Climbing Mag. about some new bouldering that had been found in the Red River Gorge and this was the hardest problem that had been established at the time. I tried it when I had no business being on it, so it was nice to return years later and dispatch it fairly quickly. I would never recommend the problem for its quality, but I really enjoy visiting obscure places like this and climbing these sorts of things, even if they are cliff band dropoffs.
Bang On V12, Black Mountain
The Ecoterrorist V10, Castle Rock
I’ve been to Castle Rock in California on two separate occasions to try this one, and both times it was pouring rain. This sloping problem was featured in one of the first climbing movies I ever owned “Rampage”, and Chris Sharma has the FA.
Kratos V12, Boone
Brown Recluse V9, Southern Illinois
The sandstone in So Ill is oddly underrated, with the boulders in Chattanooga and Arkansas getting much more press. This impressive problem climbs 18 ft over a flat landing on near perfect rock. I tried but did not succeed on a one day visit in 2006. A beautiful Jason Kehl FA.
The Raven V12, Sandstone
Nic Oklubzija has the FA of this gorgeous and unlikely classic from Sandstone, MN. It is claimed by those who have seen it that it could potentially be a 5 star problem. I really hope to get out there someday and give it some effort.
The Receptionist V10, Priest Draw
This is not the full list but most of the important ones are on here. Some problems are not listed for various reasons (access mostly) but it gives you a general idea.
And finally King Air V10, Yosemite