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It seems like all of the futuristic projects (V15+) we see are on overhung, cave-like features. This makes sense because being overhung automatically adds difficulty since you are working against gravity, but it seems like there should be boulders out there which are not overhung, but still sufficiently technical to achieve a high rating.

Not a boulder, but I'm thinking specifically of the "Changing Corners" pitch on The Nose, which is a featureless inward dihedral whose sheer difficulty comes from having nothing at all to work with -- quite the challenge for not being overhung!

Are these boulders simply overlooked by people looking to send something futuristic? Is there a cap at which you must go overhung to progress the grade? Why?

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There is a combination of factors:

  • holds get extremely small on a vertical face or slab with higher grades. Holds on overhanging boulders are already quite small in those grades, so they are pretty much nonexistent for vertical climbs
  • as the holds are basically nonexistent, these climbs start to get very friction dependent. This is a problem if you do not live near the project as trips are hard to plan
  • falling is much better on overhanging climbs
  • the climbs would probably need to be much longer than the average boulder. The changing corner boulders are already veritable high-balls. Not for everyone
  • it does not look very spectacular. Professionals need sponsors to finance their lifestyle. The more spectacular something looks the easier it is to keep your sponsors happy
  • high-end technical climbs are difficult, even for pros. It takes many many years to get good at slabs and basically-no-holds climbing. It is much easier to throw in fingerboard sessions with xx kg bonus weight for an overhanging boulder
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  • So it sounds like such boulders could exist, but nobody has incentive to work on them. Thanks for the unique perspective, never considered the sponsorship angle! – ijustlovemath Feb 25 at 14:20
  • V12+ face climb boulder would also probably consist of low-percentage moves, likely in a row -- so it would not only be condition dependant, but also just plain luck of hitting all those just right. Pushing the difficulty in more physically demanding ways means training for it is easier than turning a 2% move into a 5% move. – Sakari Cajanus Apr 2 at 7:41

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