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He’s done it! After four years of work, on Sunday, October 23, Nalle Hukkataival finally climbed the “Lappnor
Project” in his home country of Finland. He named the boulder problem Burden of Dreams and suggested V17 (9A) for the grade—which would
make it the first V17 in the world.
Other top boulderers, such as Jimmy Webb and Daniel Woods, have both tried the Lappnor project. Woods, who has climbed 22 V15s and has established three
V16s—Hypnotized Minds (V16) in Rocky Mountain
National Park, Colorado; The Process (V16) in the Buttermilks of Bishop, California; and most recently, Creature from the Black Lagoon (V16), also in RMNP—attempted
the boulder problem earlier this year and said it felt “impossible.”
“Out of all the boulders I’ve tried, it’s for sure an 8C+ [V16] boulder, and there’s even that, like, mystery 9A [V17] grade that can be thrown out, you
know?” Woods says in the video below. In the video, he suggests that if there’s anyone who can take bouldering to the next level, to send the first
V17, it would be Hukkataival.
“Yesterday I had another session on the Lappnor project,” Hukkataival announced on Instagram. “Some days you feel strong and confident and get totally
shut down. Other days you’re not feeling a 100 percent and it could be the best session you’ve had. All logic seems to have gone out the window a long
“Many sessions I wish I could forget. Can’t do a move I’ve done countless of times before. Last highpoint was a year ago. Weeks and months turned into
years of uncertainty and self-doubt. Trying to keep that little spark of hope in the back of your mind alive.
“Walking up to the boulder with all the positivity I can muster, I still can’t ignore what the boulder has become to represent: failure of varying degrees
… This time was different.
“Snap to reality, I’m hanging on the lip of the boulder, disoriented, heart racing. Contain the panic. I’m on top of the boulder trying to grasp how I
got there. Lots of feelings coinciding; surprise, relief, happiness, confusion. As reality hits that quickly turns into ecstatic happiness with a dash
“With a handful of existing 8C+ [V16] boulders in the world, proposing 9A [V17] is the logical step.
“Stay tuned for a film of the whole story with the boulder. It will be something extraordinary.”
Gioia was established by Italian climber Christian Core in February 2008, who suggested V15 for difficulty. In 2011, Adam Ondra repeated the climb after 11 days of effort, and gave it a personal grade of
V16. Hukkataival made the third ascent of Gioia in February 2014, although he hesitated to confirm the V16 grade. On his blog, he wrote: “Gioia is definitely one of the most difficult boulders
in the world. It’s certainly harder than most 8C’s [V15s] out there. The real question is, is it a full grade harder? If we decide to consider it 8C+
[V16], then there are also a couple other contenders for 8C+ in my opinion.”
In April 2013, Hukkataival bagged the third ascent of Bügeleisen’s stand-start—a V14 established in 2001 by the legendary Austrian boulderer
Klem Loskot. The unrepeated sit-start variation immediately caught his eye.
“It’s a proud, mean-looking wall when you first walk up to it. The rock is incredible, bullet granite,” Hukkataival told Rock and Ice in a
previous interview. He declined to grade the problem, but said “It could be the hardest problem I’ve climbed so far!”
That is, until Burden of Dreams—possibly the next level in bouldering.
VIDEO: Daniel Woods on the Elusive V17 Bouldering Grade
Daniel Woods talks about the 2016 Sisu Masters bouldering competition in Helsinki, Finland, Nalle Hukkataival’s Lappnor project and the possibility of the first 9A/V17 boulder problem.