Japanese climber Ryuichi Murai recently repeated Livin’ Large, a highball boulder problem in Rocklands, South Africa first established by Nalle Hukkataival way back in 2009. The huge problem works up a striking arete feature that tops out at eight metres (26 feet). Originally graded V15 (8C) by Hukkataival, the problem didn’t see a second ascent until 2015 when Jimmy Webb repeated the king line. Shawn Raboutou made the third ascent in 2019 and bumped up the grade to V16, cementing it one of the most difficult highballs in the world. Murai agrees with Raboutou’s upgrade, himself calling the problem V16.
“The first half [of Livin’ Large] consisted of compression moves with friction slopers, and the second half was a mental battle (V11-ish) that required delicate footwork,” said Murai on Instagram. “It was only possible to try in perfect conditions in the early morning (~9:00), evening (17:00~), or on a cloudy day.
“However, the approach takes 45 minutes, so early in the morning there wasn’t enough time to warm up. In the evening there’s only a short time after the rock cools down until the sunset, so a cloudy day is the best. Due to friction issues, the damage to the finger skin was quite severe. If I tried, I had to rest for 2-3 days. So this cloudy day near the end of the tour was my last chance.
“The conditions were great on this day and every move worked perfectly on the second try. I just focused on each hold in front of me, and didn’t feel any fear of heights. It would have been really bad if I missed the last move. I’m glad I climbed, but more than that I’m glad I didn’t fall.”
Murai has had a very successful trip to South Africa. Although he achieved his main goal completing Livin’ Large, he’s sent several other Rocklands classics including Monkey Wedding V15, Black Eagle V14, Ménage à Trois V14, Book Club V14, Corazon V13, and Eye of Sauron V10.
Livin’ Large isn’t Murai’s first V16. In February, he repeated Jimmy Webb’s Sleepwalker V16 in Red Rock and last year, he repeated Gakido V16 in Japan. He also has three V16 first ascents to his name – Floatin, Nexus, and United – all located in Japan.