I have been making the drive over to Estes pretty consistently over the past two weeks, putting in some serious effort on two or three hard problems. Pondering the somewhat absurd nature of the enterprise, I ran across this forum topic at 8a.nu, "What bouldering grade would you give Everest?" This led to me to consider the relative difficulty of, say, a V12 boulder problem in RMNP, compared to Mount Everest and the likelihood of my doing either. This was thrown into relief by the recent ascent by Jordan Romero, a 13-year old from California, whose success and accompanying publicity recently motivated the Chinese to institute age limits for attempts from the Tibetan side. Nepal has had such restrictions for some time.
I feel pretty confident in saying that the main obstacle to my climbing Everest is a large amount of money and time and not much else. It is remarkable that a climb which tested the limits of human endeavor in the 1950s is now essentially a tourist destination. A V12 in RMNP, while commonplace enough today, still demands a kind of commitment in terms of training and dedication that the average Seven Summitter doesn't require. I think for me the sense of total reliance on my own resources to achieve the goal of this grade at my age gives a certain edge to what seems a minor enterprise at best from the outside. I cannot rely on guides, technology, oxygen, or anything else besides my mind and body. The adventure is deeply internal rather than external. Though the obstacles of altitude, oxygen and weather are present (I wonder how many trips to Chaos Canyon equals the elevation gain of an Everest ascent), the hardest one to master is time, especially using it efficiently and effectively in a short climbing season. Perhaps more importantly there is also time in terms of aging; how many more seasons will such a goal remain feasible?
My true Everest in bouldering is a solid V13, perhaps a problem like Nuthin' But Sunshine, or The Swarm. Whether I can achieve this is a true unknown but the challenge is a strangely compelling one and continues to draw me onward. I will keep you posted on how it's working out.