A piece of rock in remote Finnish woodland a hundred kilometres or so from Helsinki has become something of an obsession in the bouldering community in recent months. The Lappnor Project, a testpiece so obstinate Daniel Woods, pioneer of a number of a number of 8C+ climbs including Creature from the Black Lagoon, suggested it may well be impossible, has been in the sights of Nalle Hukkataival for the best part of four years – and has finally been tamed!
The magnitude of the achievement wasn’t lost on Hukkataival, who proposed a whole new grade of difficulty for the boulder, which he renamed Burden of Dreams having stamped his authority on it by claiming the first ascent.
“Waking up today I can’t help but look at the world with different eyes,” Hukkataival wrote. “Having achieved the first ascent of Burden of Dreams marks a new level in my climbing. With a handful of existing 8C+ boulders in the world, proposing 9A is the logical step.”
Woods, who visited the Lappnor Project with Hukkataival and Jimmy Webb earlier this year to have a go on the problem (check out the embedded video for footage), suggested in a recent interview that 9A would be the correct grade for a send of the Lappnor Project/Burden of Dreams.
“Out of all the boulders I’ve tried for sure it’s an 8C+ boulder and there’s even that, like, mystery 9A that could be thrown out… When you take someone like Nalle who’s travelled the globe, who’s repeated a lot of the hardest testpieces in the world, he knows how hard something should feel…you have to realise this could be the next step.”
Woods also pointed out that Hukkataival has conquered 8C climbs in just a few days in the past. The vast amount of time it’s taken him to work out the Beta for Burden of Dreams and to nail the half dozen or so individual moves required to rise up the virtually holdless wall, suggest that it is in a whole new league of difficulty.
Hukkataival was introduced to the Lappnor Rroject by fellow Finnish climber Marko Siivinen and his write up of the successful climb highlights the almost mystical connection he made with the rock through working on it for so many years.
“Walking up to the boulder with all the positivity I can muster,” he notes “I still can’t ignore what the boulder has become to represent; failure of varying degrees.” Yet this time he suddenly found himself “hanging on the lip of the boulder, disoriented, heart racing. Contain the panic. I’m on top of the boulder trying to grasp how I got there.”
Hukkataival may not be the only one viewing the world with fresh eyes now that the Lappnor Project has been climbed. Proposing a new level of difficulty for a bouldering problem invites others to seek climbs at a similar level and to push the limits of the sport. If Burden of Dreams is accepted as the toughest boulder problem in the world new challenges are laid down: who can repeat it and who can usurp it.