Last week, to my surprise, Dai Koyamada and two of his friends Kiyoshi Ashida and Miwa Oba, visiting from Japan, came into Movement. Dai was in town for a week or so, and looking to scope out all of the hard boulders Colorado has to offer. I was honored to have the opportunity to tour him around and share my knowledge and love for the hard bouldering here.
For those who are unaware, Dai is a living legend. He has one of the greatest ticklists of hard climbing ever assembled. He began climbing in 1993 and in 1996 won the Japanese National Championship. In 2004 he climbed the FA of the legendary Wheel Of Life, in the Grampians of Australia. That same year he repeated Dreamtime, in Cresciano, CH. The next year, 2005, he climbed his own V15, Hydrangea, in Shiobara, Japan, as well as the iconic route in the Frankenjura, Action Direct 5.14d. In the following years he repeated Big Paw V14 or V15, In Search of Time Lost V15, and Dark Matter V15. He has also established a number of hard boulders in Japan, including Hyper Ballad V15, Uma V15 and many others.
Dai’s trip was mostly just to see what Colorado had to offer so we spent most of our time touring different areas. One day was spent at Lincoln Lake. It was a typical day in the mountains, and a rainstorm forced us into a cave for an hour or so while Dai suffered from the altitude. Every boulder we visited he would methodically feel the holds, ask questions, and figure out beta in his mind. Kiyoshi (effortlessly translating my more complicated questions) and Dai patiently answered my onslaught of questions about Japan. I love touring foreigners around Colorado, sharing the classic areas and learning about their culture as well. The Japanese were all incredibly polite, quiet, thoughtful, intelligent and simply a joy to be around. Every day out was a treat.
The second day we went out to Guanella Pass and I showed Dai the Ice Knife. He seemed impressed and I forgot how impressive the problem is. We finished the day over at the main area, where Dai climbed what I think is an FA of a contrivance that he called Dung Beetle, and then very quickly climbed Mind Matters V12, before repeating it for camera. His style is fluid, quick, and efficient, and I felt like I learned a lot just watching.
The third day we went on a big tour with no climbing. In the morning we met Jon Cardwell, who shared his beta on The Game V15. We then drove up Boulder Canyon to look at Midnight Express V14 and Free Range V13. Wild Basin was next and we saw The Grey V14 and Dead Meadow V13, before driving down to Estes and up to Paint it Black V15, Hypnotized Minds V15, and Mirror Reality V14. It was a long day of running around, Dai chalking and feeling holds, Kiyoshi quietly taking notes, and Miwa silent, and without complaint.
Our last day we went back to Veritas. It was warm and motivation seemed low. Dai climbed Mendax V10 to warmup, and then briefly tried Hypnotized Minds before adding a one move low start to Stripes V9, which probably bumps it up a grade or so. They spent much of the day teaching me Japanese, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Coming to a place where, after 15 years of climbing, I have the opportunity to tour around a climber like Dai was an absolute thrill. Even more impressive was the kindness, interest, thoughtfulness and intelligence that he and his friends handled themselves with the entire time. I look forward to having the chance to visit them in Japan someday, to see more of his contributions to the sport, and to learn more Japanese. I would never have expected climbing to provide such enriching experiences when I began, so long ago, top-roping at that 30 ft sandstone cliff in Michigan and once again, I am very thankful to be a part of this wonderful sport of bouldering.
Thanks to Susanica Tam who joined us on a few of the days and took some of the photos with my camera!