Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Most Famous Boulder Problem in the World?

Midnight Lightning (bouldering)

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Midnight Lightning

LocationYosemite National Park
Coordinates37°44′30″N 119°36′07″W / 37.7418°N 119.602°W / 37.7418; -119.602
Climbing AreaCamp 4 (Yosemite)
Route TypeBouldering
RatingV8 (7B/7B+)
First ascentRon Kauk, 1978

Midnight Lightning is a bouldering problem on the Columbia Boulder in Camp 4 of Yosemite National Park. It has been described as the world's most famous bouldering problem.[1] The first ascent was by Ron Kauk in 1978; the first female ascent was by Lynn Hill in 1998.[2] Sam Moses, writing in Sports Illustrated said the most difficult move on Midnight lightning is a "spider-monkey swing 15 feet (4.6 metres) off the ground. The climber must suspend himself by the fingertips of his left hand, swing around a ledge of rock and propel himself far enough up, about four feet, to grab a precarious fingertip hold with his right hand. To do that he has to create momentum from stillness."[3]
The problem had been easily identified by a chalk lightning bolt draw by John Bachar in 1978 while attempting the problem with John Yablonski and Ron Kauk. In May 2013, the iconic chalk lightning bolt was scrubbed off the face of the boulder.[1] The bolt was re-drawn in the same location a few days later.[4]


SO I recently traveled out to California for a family vacation and had the opportunity to stand underneath one of the most iconic boulder problems in the United States, if not in the world ; Midnight Lightning.  I had every intention of sending this Ron Kauk classic problem, but unfortunately came up short on my two days in Camp 4 at Yosemite Valley.  The mantle finish proved to be more difficult than I anticipated and I had to leave the valley without an ascent...

The climb was incredible and taught me a lot about myself in the two short sessions that I had on it.  The climb has seen so much traffic over the years that the first few holds are extremely polished and slick, but the upper holds felt more textured.  On the first day of attempts, it had snowed in Yosemite the night before and everything was still wet.  I wasn't even able to make the second move on the boulder problem.  The following day, I returned with more psych to the dry boulders after a 8+ mile hike with my family.  I began to rework on the problem with a guy named Tucker from Squamish, British Columbia.  We slowly began to unlock the sequence and each got to the mantle twice but were unable to figure the exit moves out.  I had to leave the next morning, but Tucker is in the Valley for the next four weeks...BEST OF LUCK TUCKER!!!  Let me know when you send Midnight Lightning....

Some images from my attempts on this international Gem:


  1. You are still my hero! Ahh deet!

  2. Yeah man cool that you even got to try that problem! I wonder how many Adirondack boulderers have been bouldering in Yosemite Valley