Daniel Woods - Interview

Thursday, April 1, 2010

15 Questions with Daniel Woods

By: Ian Achey

Name: Daniel Woods
Age: 20
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Years Climbing: 15 years
1. You just put up one of the hardest if not the hardest boulder problem in the world! How long did it take to work it out?
Overall, I worked on the Boulder Canyon project for 16 days over a 2 year period. I had tried the problem in previous years but could not do any of the sit moves… only from a stand. After a recent trip to Europe and new motivation, I went on the attack this year and completed it over a 2 week period.

2. After making the FA of Jade in 2007 and recently coming back from Hueco after making the 3rd ascent of Terremer, previously the hardest boulder problem in the country, did they prepare you for the sequence on the Game or just key you in to how strong you are climbing right now?
When I established Jade, it was by far the hardest boulder problem I had done at the time. I had not really put any effort into the Game until this year. Over that 2 year period, I tried the moves, but quickly found out it was too hard for me, so I did not invest any time into it. Entering into a new decade and a couple years of more experience, I returned to the project with determination to work out a sequence, and hopefully link it together. A day before I left for Hueco, I had fallen off the last move twice and knew for a fact that this project was going to be possible. I had to leave it though for a week and build my strength and confidence before I could do the project. Whenever I go to Hueco, my mentality is strictly focused on completing my project for that trip. Obviously, this trip I wanted to finish Terremer, since I had gotten so close to doing it in the past. My approach to Terremer was different though and the same with other climbs I completed on the trip. My goal was to use these climbs as trainers. I wanted to go around and repeat existing hard lines along with climbs I had not done before. I already had a glimpse that this project was harder than anything I was trying in Hueco, which gave me a giant confidence boost to rampage. Terremer ended up taking me 3 tries from the sit over a 2 day period (though I had tried it in the past). It definitely was hard, but not as hard as what I was trying in Boulder Canyon. Each day I was in Hueco, I would climb everything I saw from v0 to v15. Numbers did not matter. The point was to get an overall fitness; to reach a level of fatigue in which v0 felt hard. I knew I had to put myself through hell to gain success and this is what I did. When I look back and think of what helped me to succeed on this problem, it was many factors that came into play. The biggest was my mental game. Taking off 3 months of bouldering and only focusing on sport climbing helped me out tremendously. Sport routes are so taxing on the mind and I had to develop a mental fitness to keep pushing past fatigue even though I knew I had another redpoint crux to complete before reaching the anchors. My final month in Europe, I began bouldering again and got my fitness up with the intention of trying projects in CO. The accumulation of sport climbing, starting from scratch and regaining fitness in bouldering, to repeating hard testpieces in Hueco; all played a role in sending The Game.

3. How would you compare Terremer to the Game? Is the climbing similar, features, sequence etc. or did you have to bust out some unique tactics?
These climbs are opposites in many ways. Terremer is resistance climbing on micro edges out a 60 degree overhang. The climbing is very controlled and slow with a defined crux move. The Game is physical with every style of climbing out a 60 degree roof. Every move is equal in difficulty. It is not a climb where you can just grab the holds and pull down. Everything has to be perfect from foot work to body positioning. It requires full body compression. As for comparing difficulty of the two climbs, it is hard to say which one is harder since they are so different. For me, The Game was much harder since there is more to it both mentally and physically. It has everything from crimps to a finger lock leading into compression on slopers. It is a test of every style put together.

4. You broke a key hold while working the Game, then sent it the same day with a new, smaller hold. Did the hold breaking boost the difficulty or just create a mental barrier you had to overcome?
When I broke the crux hold, I immediately thought that the project had just gone down in flames. I quickly discovered a better hold right above the existing hold in which made the problem possible, but completely changed the way I did the crux section. With the previous hold, I could walk my feet up statically and get to it from the finger lock much easier. This new method made the move to the crimp harder and required doing a massive swing out. It took a couple hours to gain the new muscle memory, but once I had it in me the problem went first try from the start. I believe now the problem is harder than the original way. Also, it flows a lot better now and is not painful.

5. It's hard to get focused right off the ground. How do you get psyched to commit maximum effort to these boulder problems time after time?
I love the feeling of getting shut down, then discovering subtle tricks in which makes the problem possible. Bouldering is a very powerful sport. The test is seeing how small of a hold the body can pull down on or how crazy of a position you can put yourself into. I love the pain that comes from bouldering. Almost every session you either split a tip or wreck your muscles just for a few moves. This is the goal though like in sport climbing… get to the top. Success makes everything worth it. All of those days of suffering for completion is very inspiring to me and helps me grow as a person even outside of climbing. I mean in everyday life we deal with hardships and challenges and the goal is to overcome them. This is how bouldering works. It shuts you down at first but in the end you will come out victorious. I would much rather fall doing an impossible move rather than climbing 40 metres and falling off a v5 move at the top. Bouldering will always be my passion.

6. Dropping the "V16" rating sounds like a challenge to your colleagues. Is anyone else working on linking the sequence or do you think it will go unrepeated for a while?
As of now, the only person working on the problem is Paul. I mean I know definitely that this boulder will get repeated eventually. The question is will it be next week, month, year, or decade? Who really knows. There are so many strong climbers in the world that have repeated or set up hard test pieces. I dropped the v16 grade as a personal opinion. Based on my previous ascents that I had done, The Game felt a step above everything. For me, it was the hardest piece of rock that I had climbed, so therefore I felt that it warranted v16.

7. You're on a rampage right now! What's next for D. Woods? Any established lines you want to repeat? Anything new that will take some time?
I have so many projects. My motivation has sky rocketed for climbing. I have many boulder projects. They range from the flatirons all the way to Poudre Canyon. I have a Poudre roof proj. that might be around 14 or 15. There is a project in the Flatiorns in which Matt Wilder and Paul have both tried that looks phenomenal. I want to get into trad climbing and work on The Iron Monkey. This summer I will spend most of my time up at RMNP and Mt. Evans searching for new lines. I want to climb everything and focus mainly on establishing FAs.

8. I heard you got engaged! Congratulations, who's the lucky lady?
I did get engaged right after ABS Nationals. The lucky chicka is Courtney Sanders or I should say that I am the lucky guy. She is amazing and is a main reason for my breakthrough in climbing. She supports me and gives me motivation to not give up and try hard. If I am slacking on a move, she will tell me to sack up and do it. I definitely try a lot harder when she is around cause I have to impress her ;). Not to mention she is a strong climber herself and is very passionate about it too. Overall, I am just motivated to climb harder when she is around.

9. Are you going to give her all the beta for the Game so she can go for a flash attempt?
Of course… she should have most of the beta, she saw me climb on it for the last week of attempts.

10. What else are you up to outside of climbing? What does the average rest day for you consist of?
Lately, I have regained psych to start skating… I love the feeling of skating since it is similar to climbing. There is so much failure with skating that once you get a taste of success, you are hooked. Other than that I browse the internet, walk the dogs, and try to REST so I can move onto the next project.

11. Who do you look up to in the sport of climbing or otherwise? Who are your inspirations and what motivates you?
My inspirations in the past have been Chris, Dave, fred, Tommy etc. Now that I have grown older, I look up to the younger generation and my generation. I am always inspired by those guys and they keep pushing the limits, but climbers like Adam Ondra, Paul Robinson, and Jon Cardwell are taking things to the next level. I definitely look up to Adam the most since he has sport climbed multiple 5 15s, flashed v14 boulder, World Cup lead champion, and does hard multi pitch as well. All of this at the age of 16. Who knows what he will be doing at 20 or 30? I really like his approach and dedication to the sport. He climbs everything which inspires me to climb everything.

12. What’s the best advice you were ever given?
Honestly, I have gotten so much advice in the past that has shaped me into the climber that I am today. I learn from others but the only way I can improve as a climber is if I am feeling motivated and BELIEVE. Lately, I have given 100% for every try I take… no half assing anything. I love putting unnecessary pressure on myself to give it my all. The only way that I can try hard is if I am pushed to try hard and this comes from self motivation.

13. Do you have a motto you live by or a quote that you always remember?
Ride or Die (Tupac)

14. As one of the major players in the climbing scene a lot of people look up to you and your accomplishments. What advice would you give to a beginner climber or someone looking to take their sport to the next level?
The best advice is to find out what motivates you to climb and go from there… some people like to specialize in just one thing and some like to be well rounded. Know also that there is more failure that comes from climbing than success. Use that failure as confidence to become better and achieve success. Once you know what you are psyched on… take things to the next level!

15. You've conquered the blocs. Any interest in getting back on a rope? Plugging some gear?
I am psyched to do it all. Once the weather gets warmer, I will start to sport climb and get into trad climbing. At the moment I am rolling with my psych in bouldering to push standards.

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