Daniel Woods added one more V15 to his record list of problems at the grade at the end of June. After working it for three days on a rope, and then another three without, Woods sent The Finnish Line, Nalle Hukkataival’s eight-meter-tall testpiece in Rocklands, South Africa. Shawn Raboutou made the fourth ascent of the problem only a week before Woods.
In an email to Rock and Ice, Woods wrote, “I’d say this thing is pretty solid for 8C [V15]. Shawn, [Alex] Megos and I used a different hand sequence for the top half of the bloc that was easier to Nalle’s. It is def one of the harder blocs in Rocklands next to Livin Large. Besides the difficulty, the line and moves are a true experience.”
Though initially graded 8C/+ (V15/16) by Hukkataival, the consensus seems likely to settle at V15, with only the third ascentionist, Toby Saxton, suggesting full V16.
Woods described the line as follow: “The first half resembles tufa climbing, then the last is compression between sloping small edges on either side of the arete. The holds are super painful and friction dependent. The moves require full body power and tension. Overall the line is safe until you get to the last part where it would be bad if you fell.”
The toughest part of projecting the line was dealing with pesky skin issues. “Each session I had about three real tries before the webbing between my thum band index fingers would split,” Woods said. “Holds on this thing are no joke.”
Woods spent the end of winter and first half of spring out in Spain reacquainting himself with hard sport climbing. He sent La Capella, his first 9b (5.15b), at the end of February. After three months climbing on a rope, his raw power was perhaps lower than normal, but not enough to prevent him from ticking The Finnish Line.
“A lot of the routes I tried [in Spain] were powerful,” he said, “so not much power was lost. I had three weeks at home to build up strength before this Rocklands trip so that helped. It is definitely hard to switch back and forth between the two disciplines though.”
With The Finnish Line behind him, Woods hopes to spend the rest of his stay in South Africa this year trying some newly established problems and tackle two of the harder climbs missing from his lengthy ticklist in the area: Khoikhoi and Livin’ Large, both 8C (V15). Other than he’ll just “cruise around” and “then hike and find some new shit.”