Dai Koyamada in Colorado

Dai Koyamada in Colorado

Posted on 21. Aug, 2012 by in News

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.

Miwa sends Endgame V7

A rainbow of jackets at Lincoln Lake

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.

Dai does the FA? of a new problem at Guanella Pass called Dung Beetle. The problem was named after Dai told the story of a friend of his who collects insects.

Dai scopes The Ice Knife V15

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.

Jon and Dai measure up

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.

Miwa, Kiyoshi, and Dai at Veritas

Learning Japanese

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!

20 Responses to “Dai Koyamada in Colorado”

  1. Markku

    21. Aug, 2012

    A question arises into my mind. Was this just a scouting trip for Dai and is he planning to make a longer visit to Colorado in the near future? Or was there another purpose for this trip, other than checking out the boulders?

  2. B3

    21. Aug, 2012

    He was here for the trade show and extended his ticket a few extra days to see the hard boulders for a possible return trip. He never saw Chaos Canyon.

  3. Sean F

    21. Aug, 2012

    What a beautiful post, Jamie. This is exactly the kind of thing that draws me to reading your blog, and, on some level, climbing itself. Thanks.

  4. Connor G

    21. Aug, 2012

    I agree, nice to read this post after the fiery discussions the last two generated. Dai and his crew were our neighbors while staying in Ticino, and you’re right, they were all very pleasant, respectful, and calm people. Except the time Dai exploded after he picked off a near-send of Big Paw…but who wouldn’t be pissed after doing that?!

  5. Lee Payne

    21. Aug, 2012

    The FA in question appears to be an old tennie problem on the Guanella circuit. I would like to dub it Ridin’ Round With That Nina, but I am thinking it’s a 90’s problem for sure. Would be good to ask someone even older than me.

  6. B3

    22. Aug, 2012

    BS. Who saw it, Payne?

  7. Lee Payne

    22. Aug, 2012

    I was pretty hungover, so I could be misremembering. Then again, I have forgotten about more problems than most people try in their lifetime, so.

  8. Jacob

    22. Aug, 2012

    On a different topic.
    Can someone shed light on the Red Hill closure in South Africa. If it is in fact closed and being violated by Paul Robinson, and others with him… Ashima Shiraishi. If this is the case what a poor example to be setting for the young within climbing.

  9. […] post on B3Bouldering about giving Dai Koyamada a tour of  Colorado’s hardest boulder problems.  I wonder if it will be enough to lure him back to […]

  10. Andrew

    22. Aug, 2012

    I thought Silven did a climb in the same area as dung Beetle. Not sure but would ask him.

  11. SAclimber

    22. Aug, 2012

    From the media releases and 8a scorecards that I have seen it is quite evident (and blatant) that their whole crew has climbed there during this trip and last years trip (it was closed last year aswell). They climbed there regardless of what the locals have told them. Paul’s friend Marijus showed him around Cape Town to most of the bouldering (there is more btw). I dont know what Marijus told Paul and his crew RE access to Red Hill but I am quite sure they knew about the issues. It is very close to being resolved at the moment with meetings with SA national parks and an EMP document being drawn up for bouldering in the entire range of Table Mountain National Park (Red Hill and all the Topside areas included). I would not blame Ashima Shiraishi with anything but rather her mentors. Remember she is very young and will be ‘guided’ by the older folks. They were not very smart in being so openly public regarding their climbing around CT. It is a VERY small community and everyone knows everyone and whats been happening. I can ‘understand’ why they would ignore the climbing ban as Red Hill is home to some of the best climbs in some of the most picturesque settings. If you want more detailed info and to follow the timeline of discussion check out this forum: http://www.climb.co.za/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7919

  12. B3

    22. Aug, 2012

    Andrew I’d be happy to hear about it. I don’t know much about Guanella but anyone who has info on the history of the place is welcome to share.

  13. thomas

    23. Aug, 2012

    That dung beetle problem is the sit to a popular v5 on the first boulder. Like most of the problems there, it’s nameless and was put up sometime in the early 90s. It’s a sandbag v6, though lee was wearing climbing shoes when he did it.

  14. Jacob

    23. Aug, 2012

    Thank You SAclimber. I’ll check out the link you. Very disappointing to see, and if there is a way to punish these people they should be, by the community. I for one would not sponsor a climber who is blatantly ignoring access issues. Maybe I’ll choose not to buy clothes or shoes from a company that does. Does climbing V15 give someone the right to ruin access for all.? I would say the V15 climbing should be more aware of access issues as they are obviously spending more time climbing. Shame on you PAUL ROBINSON, MARIJUS, and ASHIMAS PARENTS.

  15. Jacob

    23. Aug, 2012

    Sorry for the typos, it’s 3AM here

  16. Adam M

    23. Aug, 2012

    This is a really great post. I love when travelers come around and climbers get to show other climbers the local rocks! Friendly, inspiring, welcoming, and humble climbers are always the best part of our world. Nice work Sheriff. Way to step up to that post! I always love showing people around Vail as well when they come up to ride. It’s usually the best parts of my season.

    (SA is another thread topic. Keep out of this one please.)


  17. DaveH

    23. Aug, 2012

    Great entry Jamie. As I get older I love this part of the bouldering lifestyle more and more.

  18. B3

    24. Aug, 2012

    We have a witness! Thanks for the input Thomas. I’d love to hear more about the history of the Pass, as it seems information is hard to come by. If there is a better name or different I am happy to change it.

  19. Lee

    25. Aug, 2012

    As I thought :) Looks like I get to name it until someone from the golden age of bouldering corrects us again…Ridin’ Round With That Nina.

  20. Danger

    05. Sep, 2012

    is that girl climbing in crocs? O.o

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