The Nest, a V15 in Red Rocks, Nevada, and one of the hardest boulder problems in North America, saw a lot of action over the past two weeks. First up, Keenan Takahashi—an undercover, moustache-sporting crusher out of California—sent the problem at the end of January for its sixth ascent following Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb, Paul Robinson, Nalle Hukkataival and Facundo Langbehn.
“The quest for The Nest is complete!!!” Takahashi wrote on Instagram. “This one was quite a journey; I don’t know if there’s any other move I’ve tried more than the one pictured. So much microbeta, self-doubt intertwined with self-belief, existential crises in full effect, and finally the strangest and most wild sensation of place in the world.”
Following Takahashi’s send, the fellow Californian Ethan Pringle took the problem to the top. Pringle has a penchant for picking projects so near his limit that they become multi-year efforts, but he seems to thrive on that sliver of possibility, on knowing that should everything fall into place, he is capable of sending. The Nest became one of those projects.
On February 1, around 10:30 pm, everything did fall into place, as he made the seventh ascent. “When I first looked at the Nest on a warm spring day in 2014 and felt the holds, it looked impossible,” Pringle wrote on Instagram after the send. “But I was drawn to it by a curiosity of what I was truly capable of, and subconsciously, to disprove the critical and untrue stories I tell myself about my ability. All that, and because it’s one of the most bad-ass hard lines I’ve ever seen. After a couple days, I could do every move. After a few more days, I sent the V13 stand start, and I thought a send of the entire line was imminent. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Despite some very close attempts, I just couldn’t quite seem to put it all together. Every failed attempt seemed to compound the fear that I might not be able to do it.”
Pringle implemented some new beta, courtesy of Takahashi, into his sequence this season.
Alone, he hiked up to the boulder on February 1 for a few goes at his “nemesis project.” A few tries in he achieved his career highpoint on the problem, but, surprised in having done so, botched the final difficult move and fell to the pads below. “I was excited and frustrated,” he wrote. “Another couple tries later … I stuck the crux move again but this time I took my time and didn’t slip off. I latched the hold that marks the end of the hard climbing with a guttural yell, climbed to the top of the boulder in disbelief, and screamed like a banshee for several minutes, releasing the frustration, self criticism and anticipation of over 50 days of of effort.”
With his send of The Nest, Pringle is now firmly in the V15 club. Though in 2010 he traveled to the Grampians, Australia and sent The Wheel of Life (V15), Pringle gave it a personal grade of 5.14d due to its route-like length. Other than that, prior to February 1 his hardest boulders were several V14s, including Meadowlark Lemon, a Paul Robinson problem in Red Rocks, which Pringle sent in 2016; and Slashface, a Fred Nicole problem, which Pringle sent in Hueco Tanks, Texas, in 2006.
Pringle previously had a years-long battle with Chris Sharma’s Jumbo Love, the world’s first 5.15b, located at Clark Mountain, California. He finally sent the route in 2015.
Though Pringle is his happy his Nest saga is over, he wouldn’t take back any of those sendless seasons, or any of those 50 days of knee-buckling falls onto the pads below: “In the end, I don’t regret a single one.”