Monkey Wedding

DISCIPLINE: Bouldering
LOCATION: Rocklands, South Africa
GRADE:  8C/V15
HEIGHT: 13ft (4m)
FIRST ASCENT: Fred Nicole

Monkey Wedding is an 8C/V15 boulder problem in Rocklands, South Africa. It is one of 20 problems on the ‘A Question of Balance Boulder’, in Roadside, one of Rocklands most popular bouldering sectors.

Image by Soill

Monkey Wedding Bio

The notoriously difficult 14 move problem was put up by Fred Nicole in August 2002. At the time of his first ascent, Nicole awarded the problem the grade of 8B+/V14. Since then the route has had over a dozen repeats with the consensus being that the route is closer to the 8C/V15 grade.  

As a result, the upgrading of Nicole’s Monkey Wedding problem not only makes it a contender as one of the harder problems in the Rocklands but also amongst the first boulder ascents to be in the 8C grade range.

Second Ascent – Paul Robinson 

For over 8 years since the FA, the notoriously difficult route went without a repeat. It wasn’t until 2010 that Paul Robinson eventually opened the door and claimed the first repeat. 

After starting to learn the beta on 15 July, it took Robinson almost 2 months of working the problem before he would claim the ascent, stating the ascent was a “huge mental and physical struggle”. 

Despite making it to the final move on several occasions within the first few weeks, Robison cited the hot summer temperatures of South Africa as a big challenge. Eventually, on his final day in the Rocklands, Robinson claimed the first repeat on the 25th of August 2010. He claimed the line was his second hardest send at the time, behind Lucid Dreaming, which he had topped out 5 months prior.

Monkey Wedding wasn’t the only Nicole classic Robinson managed to claim on his 2010 South Africa adventure, he also left the Rocklands with an ascent Black Eagle (V14) under his belt.

Third Ascent – Adam Ondra

Hot off the competition circuit, and claiming gold at the overall IFSC World Championship in Acro the previous month, Ondra made a trip to Rocklands to focus on claiming boulder ascents.

In less than three weeks, Ondra claimed over 22 ascents of V11 or higher on this trip Unsurprisingly, the Czech sending machine made light work of Monkey Wedding, bagging the third ascent with just four days of work. On his 8a Logbook, Ondra stated that it was his “hardest problem so far” and agreed with the V15 suggestion of Robinson, stating that the problem deserved the grade. 

Becoming an iconic test-piece

The decade since Robinson’s first repeats, Nicole’s iconic problem has become a test piece for world-class climbers

After Ondra, Daniel Woods claimed the fourth ascent in 2012. Woods mentioned that they found the problem “very mentally challenging”, partly due to the fact that the holds are so sharp that it only allows for a couple of burns during each session. 

Woods wasn’t the only elite climber to struggle with the problem. Nalle Hukkataival, who eventually claimed the eighth ascent, had attempted the route over several trips to the Rocklands, although also faced skin issues due to the razor-sharp rock. Dave Graham also called the line one of his “ultimate global nemesis projects” after getting shut down for almost two weeks in 2015. He eventually managed to claim an ascent in August 2016, after discovering beta for the crux sequence. 

Other noteworthy ascents followed over the years, including a 30 minute sent from Alex Megos, a barefoot top out from Charles Albert.

Ascents

Date of AscentClimberSuggested GradeNotes
2002-08-20Frédéric Nicole8B+
2010-08-24Paul Robinson8C10 days of projecting
2011-08-14Adam Ondra8C4 days of projecting
2012-08-13Daniel Woods8C
2015-06-27Ignacio Sánchez González8CInstagram post
2016-07-01Shawn Raboutou-
2016-07-24Vadim Timonov~8CYouTube video
2016-07-24Nalle Hukkataival8CFacebook post
2016-08-14David Graham8CInstagram post
2017-06-16Charles Albert8C (Soft)Sent in 5 sessions. YouTube video
2017-07-06Alex Khazanov8C3 days of projecting
2017-07-10Alexander Megos8CInstagram post
2017-08-21Toby Saxton8C
2018-08-01Aidan Roberts8CInstagram post
2018-08-13Toshi Takeuchi8CYouTube video
2019-08-31Giuliano Cameroni8CInstagram post

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