Ever hear of Time Clifford? No? That's because, unlike some boulderers who make their presence known to anyone within spraying distance, Clifford keeps a low profile while quietly knocking off the hardest problems. However, when you knock off a big enough problem -- like the famed Room Project in Squamish, Canada, a deviously technical line up perfect granite that has booted the world's best -- you might be noticed.
Clifford sent the Room Project
, which he named The Singularity
(V14) on May 21, eight days before his 40th birthday.
I'm not sure if it helped me turn 40, but I suppose it's nice to be climbing as well as ever. I definitely still feel I can climb harder than this.
Originally from the U.K., Clifford recently became a resident of Canada and now lives in Squamish. He made his first trip to Squamish in 2001 after stopping by Bishop to tick the Mandala (V12), and Yosemite to fire the Dominator (V11). He dispatched with many of the area's hardest problems before lacing up for Squamish's best un-done problem. The Room Project is located in the center of a grand chamber formed by the massive Kacodemon boulders. This magnificent amphitheater also houses Chris Sharma's Dreamcatcher (5.14c/d) and Sonnie Trotter's Silent Menace (5.14a). Enticing boulderers for nearly a decade, the Room Project has thwarted many strong local climbers as well as many visiting superstars who came for the Petzl/Arc'teryx RocTrip in June 2006.
Over the six years following his 2001 trip, Clifford was twice drawn back to Squamish -- he established Frontside (V12), another long-standing project, and flashed When Harry Met Sally (V12). During these trips, his focus narrowed on the Room Project and he began to make progress on the problem.
"[The Room Project] was a problem I've wanted to do since I set eyes on it in 2001," says Clifford. "As we applied for residency, I had that problem specifically in mind."
After a two-year wait for their residency application to be accepted, Clifford, his wife, Anne, and their year-old daughter, Josephine, packed up their belongings and moved to Squamish. They arrived in April 2007, and Clifford became re-acquainted with the project, doing it after about five visits.
The Singularity, Clifford explains, is a term physicists use to describe the zero-volume, infinitely dense region at the center of a black hole.
"I suppose climbers, especially boulders, have a very strong relationship with gravity," he says. "From my understanding the singularity is the theory that, at the center of a black hole, the gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape. I suppose that's what we're trying to do every time we climb -- escape from gravity.
"It's definitely the best first ascent of a boulder problem I've done, and ranks with one of the best hard problems I've done. It's always very satisfying to be the first person to work out how to do a problem. For me, it's a perfect problem."
So what's next? Anne did joke that we could go back to the U.K. now that I've done The Singularity
. I told her not yet, as I think it may go from the sit!