Daniel Woods - New Areas

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Areas

By Daniel Woods
When I first began climbing, my main motivation was to travel and try iconic test pieces all around the world. I remember when Realization, Dreamtime, Slashface, and New Base Line were established and proposed as some of the hardest route/boulders in the world. At the time, I was nowhere near to accomplishing these ascents. This planted the seed in my head and gave me the motivation to let climbing take over my life. For many of my earlier years, I traveled to Hueco Tanks, Bishop, Joe’s Valley, and RMNP, to repeat the hardest boulders established. Hueco was considered to be the U.S. climbing Mecca and was also where the V-grade was invented. This area inspired me to create a pyramid of progression. I started out obsessing over Diaphenous Sea and Chablanke, then progressed to Crown of Aragorn and Nagual. Later, I was able to make my way forward to Esperanza and Terre De Sienne. This progression took MANY years and each year I learned so much about how to climb, stay focused, and build power. Taking my knowledge that I received from 'local' areas, the next logical step seemed to be to travel outside of the U.S. and sample boulders that foreigners put up. I lived in Innsbruck, Austria for a year and climbed predominately in Cresciano, Chironico, Brione, and Magic Wood. During this period of time, I repeated most every hard boulder established in each crag. I later traveled to South Africa and continued doing the same. It was such a good learning experience to do this, but I needed more in my climbing to feel complete. The motivation to look for new boulders and establish my own test pieces was soon planted. 
Over the last few years I have focused on establishing my own lines. The thrill of figuring out new moves on fresh rock is priceless. Knowing that you can be the first person to complete the line is very motivating. I have been spending a lot of time with one of the best climbing pioneers I know; Dave Graham. His vision of establishing lines is very creative. He has taught me to look at the rock in a completely different way. The most important thing I learned is, that for the most part, new lines start out with choss rock. Hours and sometime days of cleaning are needed to create a line. Sometimes, you have to get pieces of broken rock out of the cracks to create edges. This was the next level I was looking for in climbing. I was fortunate enough to help Dave establish one of the new classic climbing areas in Colorado, Wolverine Land (Lincoln Lake, Mt. Evans). It was like being in school again. Dave would go on endless hours of hiking, finding lines and brushing them. He would show me the things he found and we began to go to work on preparing them. This involved brushing off the choss and lichen with a wire brush, chalking holds, and building landings. The overall process is very tiring and sometimes you are not even able to try the climb due to the amount of work you put in to prepare it. Everyday was an adventure and new things began getting put up. In total, we put up 13 boulder problems ranging from V13-V15. Dave and I were on a back and forth routine of establishing and repeating. Climbers like Jon Cardwell, Chad Greedy, Luke Parady, and Jamie Emerson came along to establish more and before you knew it, a new zone was established that had more climbs graded V13-V15 than RMNP and Mt. Evans combined.  RMNP and Mt. Evans have been in development since 2000 and have taken until now to be recognized as major destinations to travel to. Wolverine Land took 3 months! The key to this success was having many motivated climbers that would put in hours of work everyday to create something new. On average, 50 people would be bouldering there. This was the coolest thing for me to see. The climbing community really bonded together to create something new.  I am already looking forward to next season! 
My main motivation in climbing is to create test pieces and challenge myself. I believe it is natural to start out repeating lines, to get a sense for how hard things feel and once you have this knowledge, you can decide how hard the climbs are that you put up. I still enjoy repeating, but my main goal now is to find my own. I do not consider myself a pioneer for areas, but this is my new goal in climbing.

-- DW

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