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Katie Lamb Sends the Hardest Boulder of Her Life

The top American boulderer adds another difficult problem to her tick list

Katie Lamb, 25, has one of the world’s most impressive bouldering résumés. She currently holds the top spot on 8a.nu‘s world ranking of female boulderers. In February, she added another hard problem to her tick list, the first female ascent of Spectre V13/14 in the Buttermilks. Lamb recently released film of her sticking the crux sequence, which can be viewed below.

Spectre was first climbed by Dave Graham way back in 2001. He assigned it a grade of V13. The problem has turned into an absolute classic over the years with many of bouldering’s best having their turn on the boulder including Paul Robinson, Kevin Jorgeson, Carlo Traversi, Daniel Woods, and Jimmy Webb.

Spectre’s grade is nuanced. Most climbers agree with Graham’s original assessment of V13. However, the typical crux beta is impossible for shorter climbers. Instead of keeping a toe cam on during this crux move, shorter climbers have to cut feet and hold a very difficult swing.

“Freaking out,” Lamb wrote on 8a.nu about her February 10th ascent. “With the jump method – hardest single move I’ve done and proudest ascent to date. Never thought I’d have a chance. Scaling is so fucked up like that. Doesn’t get any better!!”

A couple days ago on Instagram, she talked about her big send publicly for the first time. “A couple months ago I went on a solo trip to Bishop and finally topped out Spectre,” she said. “This represents a level I wasn’t sure I was capable of and is the hardest and proudest boulder I’ve done. To go all in on something that’s completely out of my box during one of the wettest winters in California felt a little crazy. Scaling is one of the greatest manifestations of the ways in which persistence, patience, and blind faith in the process pays off, and seeing it through on Spectre meant the most. Cheers to a lifetime of learning and big hugs to all my people that walked out there with me.”

Lamb has sent six V14’s, 13 V13’s, and 24 V12’s according to her 8a.nu profile. In July 2021, she sent her first V14, the famous Jade in Rocky Mountain National Park. Later that year she sent New Base Line V14 in Magic Wood, Switzerland.

In the first half of 2022, she sent Direct North V14 in the Buttermilks and The Penrose Step in Leavenworth, Washington. In Summer 2022, she took a trip to Rocklands, South Africa. Even though she was nursing a pulley injury, she had a very successful trip, sending Book Club V14, Quintessential V13, Green Mamba V12, and Ubuntu V12.

In the video by Vincent Mollicone below, you can compare Lamb’s Spectre crux beta to the typical crux beta used by taller climbers.