Daniel Woods, 31, has made the first ascent of Return of the Sleepwalker, which he says is V17 and is likely only the second of the grade in the world.
Woods has been one of the biggest names in hard bouldering for decades and is widely considered one of the world’s strongest climbers. He has sent some of the hardest boulder problems in the world, with multiple being first ascents, including, Hypnotized Minds V16 (2010), Box Therapy V16 (2018), and The Process V16 (2015).
Sleepwalker is located in Red Rock Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas, and more specifically, in Black Velvet Canyon. The V16 boulder problem had its first ascent in December 2018 by Jimmy Webb. Woods was with Jimmy when he made the first ascent, and less than a month later, Woods completed the second ascent. The climb has also been repeated by Nalle Hukkataival, Drew Ruana, and Nathan Williams.
Woods has added six more moves to this already incredibly difficult climb. While the grade of V16 for this climb is already world-class level and the route is considered the hardest boulder in the country, sending it has propelled it to V17.
This winter, Woods had climbed Sleepwalker V16 nearly 20 times, with four coming in one session. Last week, he said, “I don’t sleep at night because of it. I don’t think about anything else in life besides internally feeling my flow on this thing. Figuring out how to speed sections up, when to breathe, when to hold my breath, when to ramp up, when to slow down.”
This winter, Belgium climber Simon Lorenzi, 24, made the first ascent of Soudain Seul, the sit start to The Big Island (a Dave Graham V15), in Fontainebleau, France, and graded it V17. Nico Pelorson recently repeated Soudain Seul but downgraded it to V16. In 2018, Charles Albert sent No Kpote Only and graded it V17, but it was downgraded to V15/16.
The first and only other suggested V17 is Nalle Hukkataival’s Burden of Dreams from 2016, which has not been repeated. Watch the first ascent below.