We’ve already written about the 10 best rock climbers, but today we’re going to talk about bouldering. Bouldering, for those of you who don’t know, is a form of rock climbing that doesn’t use any weight-bearing equipment (that’s right — no ropes or harnesses). Additionally, boulderers climb on shorter boulders as opposed to tall cliff faces.
If you’ve ever wondered who the best boulderers alive today are, we’re going to answer that for you today. An article on the hardest boulder problems in the world compiled info on all the top boulderers to see who has climbed the most difficult boulder problems, and we’re going to use that data to create our list. Here it is:
The 10 Best Boulderers Alive Today
1) Daniel Woods
Daniel Woods is not only arguably the best boulderer of all time, but he’s also the best boulderer alive today. At 26, his list of bouldering accolades is already incredibly long. He has climbed more V15s than anyone else in the history of the sport. He has also gotten the first ascent (FA) of eleven V15s and V16s. That is second only to the Japanese crusher, Dai Koyamada.
What’s so impressive about Daniel Woods is that he is so young. He is in the prime of his career and he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In 2015, he climbed his “super-project”, The Process, and slapped on it the mythical grade of V16. Many in the climbing community feel that it could be the only ‘true’ V16 in existence (there currently are four problems with the grade, but all are unrepeated).
2) Dai Koyamada
Dai is a living legend. He has undoubtedly had one of the most prolific bouldering careers of all time, and — despite being 39 — he is still climbing as hard as he was 10 years ago and still establishing new problems that rank amongst the hardest in the world. For example, in 2015, he FA’d Horizon and gave it a grade of V15. He also holds the only ascent on one of the world’s few V16s, the low start to The Story of Two Worlds.
3) Nalle Hukkataival
Nalle is sometimes called the Finnish crusher, and with good reason. He has racked up the third most ascents and third most FAs of V15 boulder problems. He also set a new standard for highball bouldering when he sent Livin’ Large in South Africa back in 2009. Like Daniel Woods, Nalle, age 29, still has many years of bouldering ahead of him. He has also been working on some futuristic bouldering projects which he claims to be making progress on, so expect to hear some news from him in the coming years. Another V16 contender, perhaps?
Check out this video of him getting the third ascent of one of the current boulders rumored to be V16, Gioia.
4) Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson has been one of the most prolific boulderers in the world over the past decade or so. He has FA’d some of the hardest problems in the world (e.g. Lucid Dreaming, V15) and repeated countless more. Inside the gym, he has won or placed in almost all the international bouldering competitions.
5) Jimmy Webb
The bearded Southern powerhouse Jimmy Webb has made waves in the bouldering community the past few years. Since 2013 alone, he has sent a mind-boggling 10 problems graded V15, including a recent FA of The Matriarch. Already in our top five, if he keeps up that pace he could soon be ranked even higher.
6) Dave Graham
Dave Graham is another living legend. He has been bouldering at the highest level since the mid 2000s and, during that time, has put up some of the most classic boulder problems in the world, such as From Dirt Grows the Flowers and The Story of Two Worlds. He also comes up with some of the best problem names, in my opinion.
7) Adam Ondra
Now, if this were an article about the best rock climbers alive today, Adam Ondra might very well be number one. Though he’s not as prolific at bouldering (yet) he still has the credentials to be in our top ten. He nabbed the second ascent of Gioia and gave the problem a V16 grade afterwards. Due to his history of downgrading hard problems, his V16 suggestion was viewed as a strong endorsement in the eyes of many, and subsequently many people today think of Gioia as a V16 boulder problem despite it first being graded V15 by Christian Core. Ondra also established a V16 traverse problem, Terranova, in his home country of the Czech Republic and flashed (completed on the first try) Jade, a V14, giving him one of the hardest boulder problem flashes in history.
One of the most amazing things about all this is that Ondra is only 22. He will no doubt continue to push the limit of both climbing and bouldering in the decades that come.
8) Nacho Sánchez
Although not in the limelight as much as other boulderers on this list, Nacho Sánchez has quietly been compiling one of the most impressive ticklists in the world. In 2015 he FA’d Crisis, a problem in his home country of Spain, and gave it a slash grade of V15/16 (8C/+). Although a few of his hardest problems are V15 FAs that have gone unrepeated, in 2015 he showed the bouldering world he can climb with the best when he traveled to South Africa and climbed Fred Nicole’s Rocklands testpiece, Monkey Wedding, V15.
9) Jan Hojer
Jan Hojer seems to be one of the up-and-coming competition boulderers who is now successfully making his mark on outside problems. Beyond being one of the top boulderers on the competition circuit, the 6’2” (188 cm) German has sent a handful of V15s in the past few years. He is among the younger generation of climbers so, like Ondra, he has plenty of years of potential ahead of him.
10) Alex Megos
Like Adam Ondra, Alex Megos is a top rope climber who seems to occasionally focus on bouldering. Despite this, Megos has repeated some of the hardest boulders in the world. It took him 11 days to send Paul Robinson’s Lucid Dreaming, a problem that Robinson originally graded V16 but downgraded to V15 after thinking about it further. Four of his five V15 sends have been in the past two years, and he only seems to be getting stronger.
What do you think of our list? Anyone you’d like to have seen on here? Let us know in the comments!