Daniel Woods has added another incredible hard problem in Colorado. The new line climbs out a 25 ft 60 degree wall in the heart of the South Platte.
I got the low down on the line from Colorado Springs local Max Krimmer.
B3: What did Daniel Name it and how hard did he call it?
Max: Defying Gravity, 8C
B3: Where is the new problem?
The new problem is hidden in one of the upper cirques at Thunder Ridge in the South Platte.
B3: Who found it? First tried it? Who developed the area?
Max: Thunder Ridge was discovered in the late eighties by Colorado Springs locals. It was initially a trad area, then a sport area and finally, in late 2008, we started going there to look at boulders. David Jones, Bryan Johnson and Hayden Miller were perhaps the first group to hike around with boulder problems in mind. They stumbled upon the Project during one of their initial trips to the area, cleaned it up, tried it, and quickly realized how difficult it was. I visited the wall for the first time in the Spring of 2009, tried it briefly and drew similar conclusions.
It is important to note that the cliffs around the Project Wall are all bolted. I’m not sure who bolted these routes but it’s safe to say that a number of people had seen the Project Wall long before we cleaned it and started to try it. Jason Haas and the other guidebook authors could undoubtedly tell you more about the area, I can only speak to what my friends and I were doing at the time.
Over the next few months the area was combed over. Austin Geiman established Cheat Death (V9), Matt Wilder put up Whale Shark (V7) and Hayden Miller climbed a number of classics like Moment of Clarity (V7), Gold and Silver (V6) and Rocktown (V9). Ben Scott also made several trips to the area, but our paths never crossed.
A year or so later Paul Dustako and Ben Scott visited the Project Wall and established Log Jammin’ (V9). I’m also told Ben Scott climbed a highball on the same wall to the left of the Project in the V5 range, but I’m unsure if this was a first ascent. The following year I established a low start to Cheat Death, called Meet Your Maker (V9/10) and Hayden established Localer Than Thou (unrepeated).
Between 2010 and 2013 I made repeated visits to the project to augment the landing, show people Log Jammin’ and try it occasionally with guys like Jesse Warren and Griffin Whiteside. In December of 2011, Jon Glassberg and Rob D’Anastasio were shown the area by Jason Haas, and spent some time trying the project as well. I showed Austin the project in Spring 2013, and he began trying it seriously and linking sections. In the Fall of 2013, I connect with my friend Jimmy and he decided to come check it out–Daniel cruised with him. Over the next month I would spend a total of 15 days filming at the boulder, generally with Austin but occasionally Jimmy and Daniel would come join.
For most people, the climb breaks down into two dynos. Austin was the first person to stick the initial jump move, which is likely in the 8b+ range and Jimmy was the first person to stick the second jump move (flash). Austin said the second jump felt about 8a or 8a+, Jimmy thought it was a bit easier. Daniel wasn’t tall enough to do the first jump, so he unlocked a different sequence using a small slopey pinch out left as an intermediate—claiming around 8c for his method.
After 4 days of work, Jimmy has yet to stick the first dyno. Austin hasn’t been able to repeat the first move in the last 5 sessions on the problem and has spent 9 days in total. Daniel completed the boulder on his fourth day.
B3: Are there any access issues?
Max: The climbing at Thunder is well established and there is an agreement with the local landowners to allow foot traffic up their driveway to reach the trailhead. Here is more info from Mountain Project.
The rocks at Thunder Ridge reside entirely on Pike National Forest land. However, half of the approach, which involves walking down a gated dirt road, is on private property. The road is private property from behind the gate (where you park) to where you leave it at the two-track. This is not a closed Forest Service road; it is essentially a driveway. The landowner is ok with climbers walking the road, but he is NOT ok with anyone driving or mountain biking down the road. This is a reasonable request; please honor it. The land to the left of the road is forest service land as well, but there is not a trail along this and we want to continue to utilize the road as long as the landowner is ok with it. PLEASE DO NOT JEOPARDIZE THIS IN ANY WAY. The landowner has become extremely frustrated with people driving down the road and approaching his house to ask for directions and has posted a lot of threatening signs about no trespassing and shooting people. Several climbers, including Joe Sambataro of the Access Fund, Jason Haas of Fixed Pin Publishing, and original developers Steve Cheyney and Glenn Schuler spoke with the landowner after these signs were posted, and got him to agree to allow climbers to walk the road, but that’s it! Please follow these simple rules:
Park off to the left at the end of Nine-J Road and do not block either gate.
Do not drive or mountain bike down the road.
When the private road makes a 90-degree turn towards the house, continue straight on the two-track and do not approach the house.
No camping or overnight parking. Instead drive about three miles back up Nine-J Road and camp in one of the pullouts where the trees start up again.
Walk to the side of the road and get out of the way of oncoming cars – this is a private road that is used by the local landowners.
No fires – this is a high fire danger area.
Stay on existing trails.
B3: What does this new problem mean for South Colorado Climbing?
Max: It is hard to say at this point. I doubt a new 8C will result in swarms of people coming to Thunder so I think the area will stay more or less the same. My hope is that this ascent will pique people’s interest in the climbing south of Denver, which is undoubtedly some of the best in the state. There are still many classic projects and I’m excited to see if people from up north will start seeking them out and trying them.
B3: Does the South Platte hold much potential for this kind of isolated line?
Max: The South Platte is massive and there is granite everywhere. For the most part, the rock is old, weathered and featureless and not the best for bouldering. However, there are areas with good rock here and there, and I’m sure there are more remote, quality boulders to be found if people are willing to put in the work.
This new boulder is the 18th V15 of Daniel’s career, and his 9th 8C FA. He has climbed 174 problems 8B or harder, and once again left his mark on the boulders of Colorado. Well done! and huge thanks to Max Krimmer for the update!