|Climber||Suggested Grade||Date of Ascent||Notes|
|Daniel Woods||V16/8C+||29th Oct 2018||FA. Daniel hiked a total of 91 miles to and from the boulder until he sent it.|
|Drew Ruana||V16/8C+||18th July 2020||His second V16 boulder in the same year.|
|Sean Bailey||V16/8C+||19th Oct 2020||This was Sean’s first V16 boulder.|
|Katie Lamb||V16/8C+||6th Sep 2023||Katie made history as the first woman to conquer a V16 boulder, skipping the V15 grade entirely.|
The genesis of “Box Therapy” traces back to around 2007/2008 when Tommy Caldwell and his father, Mike, discovered a promising granite bloc by Box Lake, situated at an elevation of 10,500 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park. The initial establishment saw the creation of Spread Eagle (V11), a problem that begins with a stand-start and navigates across the 20-foot boulder’s fifty-degree-overhanging north face onto its headwall.
Daniel Woods envisioned a more demanding line, adding a low start to “Spread Eagle.” This extended version, named “Box Therapy,” begins with a sit-start at the base, following a thin crack rightward through a sequence involving a mini-pinch, a small crimp, and a tiny slot before merging into the Spread Eagle route. The holds are crimpy, requiring substantial finger strength and presenting limited options for footholds, most of which track the previous hand holds.
The crux of the problem emerges around the transition into the standstart of Spread Eagle. Climbers face a strenuous campus move to grasp the starting rail of Caldwell’s problem, followed by a challenging cross move to a 10mm edge to get established on “
Spread Eagle. Woods elucidated that the section from the start to the stand start is graded V14/15, and from the stand start onward, it holds a grade of V12. The entire route demands meticulous planning, especially when transitioning from the sit to the stand start, where climbers need to resequence their hands.
29th Oct 2018: Daniel Woods
Woods first approached the problem in September 2017, accompanied by Chad Greedy and Isabelle Faus. Despite making mini-links and climbing all the moves, the problem remained unconquered, partly due to Woods recovering from a grade 2 sprain of his MCL. The climb stayed deep in his thoughts, fueling an obsession that saw him hiking an estimated total of 91 miles to unlock its secrets.
Woods faced a series of challenges, including battling the harsh weather conditions of the Rocky Mountain National Park. An early season snowstorm in October threatened to halt his attempts, covering the block with snow and decorating it with icicles from lip to base.
Undeterred, Woods returned after a spell of warmer weather, equipped with a shovel and ice axe to clean the snow and ice off the line. Despite the unfavorable conditions, Woods’ determination remained unyielded. He worked meticulously through the climb, linking from the second move to just past the crux. However, the finish remained too wet for an ascent, prompting him to wait yet again.
On October 29, seizing what seemed like the last opportunity before the onset of winter, Woods returned to the site. After seven total days of work spread over years, Woods finally achieved the first ascent of Box Therapy, grading it V16 (8C+), thereby marking it as one of the most difficult problems globally.
Reflecting on the climb, Woods expressed his attraction to the holds and movement of the line, emphasizing the unique set of holds going out the mega roof and the singular sequence that worked, embodying everything he looked for in a “pure bloc.”
18th July 2020: Drew Ruana
Ruana, fresh from his triumph with the legendary Sleepwalker in Red Rocks was looking for his next challenge. Even though to get to Box Therapy you need to hike 13 miles, Drew said that it made the experience even more special.
On the 18th July, he topped out Box Therapy, making it his second V16 boulder. Drew’s ascent was followed by Sean Bailey, who topped the boulder on the 19th of October 2020, making it his first V16.
First Female Ascent
6th Sept 2023: Katie Lamb
This summer, Box Therapy became a clear choice for Katie, not just for its difficulty but also for the love of being in Colorado. She began her attempts in mid to late June, initially having to dig the boulder out from under snow, which made the approach to the site a strenuous four-hour hike each way. Yikes! Despite the challenging conditions, Lamb persisted, dedicating most of her sessions to the project in July.
There was no clear crux for her, but she said the transition from the sit start to the stand start was the redpoint crux. It didn’t take Katie long to top out the boulder and with each session, she was getting closer and closer to the top.
Lamb’s beta was a hybrid of Sean’s and Drew’s, differing mainly in foot movements, and she noted the advantage of being a shorter climber on this route due to the bunched foot sequence in the transition into “Spread Eagle.” Despite the physical demands, Lamb highlighted that the mental game played a significant role in her success. She experienced a calm certainty on the day of her send, managing to tune everything else out and focus solely on the climb.
Lamb’s ascent of “Box Therapy” was not just a personal achievement but also a historic moment, marking her as the first woman to conquer a V16 boulder. (Until it got downgraded by the Raboutous)
Header image by Keenan Takahashi
The Raboutou Downgrade
In recent news, Brooke Raboutou and her brother Shawn boarded the family send train and ticked off Box Therapy back to back. It was a whole family affair with both their parents being there to witness this achievement.
This was not Brooke’s first attempt on Box Therapy either. In 2022 she was really close to sending it on her flash attempt, falling at the last move. It only took the siblings a few sessions, only spending a weekend working on the boulder.
When you are at the top of the game, grading becomes tricky. It’s always subjective, but at the same time, you don’t want to undermine previous athlete’s achievements. The downgrade to V15 might seem shocking to some as it came only two weeks after Katie Lamb claimed the first female ascent of a V16, but at the end of the day, Brooke and Shawn are entitled to their own opinion of the grade, so for now, until there are more ascents, Box Therapy will be a slash grade.