The V16 club has a new member: Matt Fultz has nabbed the fourth ascent of Daniel Wood’s masterpiece boulder Hypnotized Minds, near Estes Park, Colorado.
Fultz told Rock and Ice, “To me, this is the hardest boulder I’ve done so far.”
In total Hypnotized took Fultz between 15 and 20 sessions spread over three years.
Previously, Fultz has climbed a host of V15s, including The Game, Boulder Canyon, Colorado; Dreamtime, Cresciano, Switzerland; Railway, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colroado; and Blade Runner, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. He climbed Delirium, a Jimmy Webb V15 at Lincoln Lake, Colorado, in just two tries.
Hypnotized Minds has mystified some climbers and fit right into the wheelhouse of others. Daniel Woods made the first ascent in October 2010 after investing about 10 days of effort. He originally graded it V15, but later upgraded it to V16 (8C+).
The next two ascents are where it gets interesting.
Rustam Gelmanov, from Kazakhstan, ticked the problem in 2016 on just the second attempt of his third session.
Gelmanov wrote on Facebook at the time, “This route was not extremely difficult for me. It fit me very well and it’s what I like. In reality I [could] not say how difficult it is.”
The third ascent fell to Dave Graham, but it took him rather longer than Gelmanov: seven years, give or take.
Graham returned to the Veritas Boulder, sitting off of Bear Lake Road, repeatedly from 2013 until he finally sent Hypnotized Minds in October 2019. He had various heartbreakers—twice falling off the last move in 2013—and setbacks—a torn A2 pulley on a trip in Mexico that same year—but he continued trying it when healthy.
Matt Fultz had a similar rollercoaster ride of projecting the boulder problem.
“I first tried it in March 2018, but after just a couple of sessions on the intensely crimpy holds, I injured a pulley on my left hand and had to leave Hypno alone for a long time,” Fultz told Rock and Ice. “I came back sporadically the following year, but never was able to fully commit to the hold that injured me. Every once in a while I would have a promising link, but a combination of bad skin, weather, and travel kept me from putting in the time I needed to complete it.”
Late this winter, before COVID-19 hit, Fultz returned to the problem once again. He had some promising sessions where he fell near the top, but couldn’t string all the moves together.
The pandemic derailed his plans to continue trying Hypnotized.
During quarantine he “gained some weight” and his fingers felt “tweaky,” so he assumed that Hypnotized Minds would have to wait for another year, once again.
But when Rocky Mountain National Park reopened, his motivation came back with a vengeance.
“With the help of my wife Hailey, I was able to get back in shape and started projecting boulders in RMNP again, training and waiting for the weather to get just right for Hypno,” he said. ”
That weather arrived in mid-September, as summer temps gave way to fall. He felt strong on the boulder when he got back on it.
“I truly believed I could finish it off this season,” he said. And a couple of sessions later, he did.
Despite it being the hardest thing he’s climbed, Fultz is convinced he hasn’t yet hit his limit:”There was a lot holding me back, some in my control and some out of my control. I’m very proud of sending Hypno, but I know I can do harder things!”
Daniel Woods making the First Ascent of Hypnotized Minds in 2010
Rustam Gelmanov making the second ascent of Hypnotized Minds in 2016
Dave Graham projecting Hypnotized Minds back in 2013