Football has Tom Brady. Basketball, Michael Jordan. In golf, it's Tiger.
I'm talking about the G.O.A.T. — and in bouldering, Daniel Woods is the greatest of all time!
On March 30th, Woods pushed American climbing to the next level with his first ascent of Return of the Sleepwalker. This boulder problem is the hardest piece of rock climbing in North America...and perhaps the world. The only other climb to receive the 9A/V17 grade is Natte Hukkataival's unrepeated Burden of Dreams in Finland.
Return of the Sleepwalker adds a seven-move V13 sit-start onto Sleepwalker (V16), first climbed by Jimmy Webb in 2018. Webb and Woods, both PhysiVāntage pros, began serious work on the project in January 2021. While Webb eventually moved on to other projects, Woods' obsession grew with each slow, incremental gain he made throughout the desert winter season.
Sending the boulder would demand Woods take his physical strength and mental fortitude to the next level. To connect a V13 sit-start into a V16 boulder, Woods felt that he would need to own the Sleepwalker section of the climb — only this way could he possibly prevail on the V16 in a reduced-power state after climbing the V13 intro.
Toward this end, Woods' training involved chunking the boulder problem into parts that he'd climb dozens of times, thus developing move-specific strength and perfecting each sequence, as if it were an Olympic gymnastic routine. Throughout this three-month process Woods climbed Sleepwalker 15 to 20 times, including four ascents in a single session! (Photo: JP Melville)
As Woods transformed his body into his best shape ever, he came to realize that this wouldn't be enough to send. Ultimately, he would also need to free himself of some emotional baggage as well as lose the weight of his favorite vices.
This deeply personal journey culminated with Woods moving out of his Airbnb and into a tent alone in the desert. As part of his inner journey, Woods stopped smoking and drinking. He gave up caffeine. He started drinking more water, consuming more protein, and taking nutritional supplements (PhysiVāntage, of course).
But the cool weather needed for V-hard bouldering would soon come to an end — building late-March warmth was like a game clock ticking down toward zero. Amazingly, Woods' process of addition-through-subtraction gave him the physical strength, clear head, and emotional lightness to succeed in solitude.
On March 30th, Woods sent Return of the Sleepwalker. He topped the boulder with no applause or fanfare. No Super Bowl parade. No Championship ring. No green jacket.
Only crickets and coyotes, cacti and sagebrush stood witness that afternoon — such a transcendent experience was improbable any other way.
(Note: A friend, Jon Glassberg, did arrive as Woods was topping out on Return of the Sleepwalker. He took Woods' iPhone off the tripod and filmed him summitting the boulder. Coming soon on Mellow.)
In working toward the first ascent of Return of the Sleepwalker, Daniel consumed Supercharged Collagen, Endure X and Weapons-Grade Whey protein to support performance and accelerate post-climb recovery.