Climbing Video Series: The World’s Most Classic Boulders

First ascensionists and climbing legends take center stage as they give first-hand accounts of iconic boulder problems around the world.

worlds most classic boulder problems midnight lighting

Mammut’s “The Classics” video series takes viewers to Yosemite, Fontainebleau, France, and Ticino, Switzerland. Ron Kauk, Jacky Godoffe, and Fred Nicole join Mammut athletes to take a deeper look into the famous climbs.

Episode 1: Midnight Lightning – Yosemite

Within Yosemite’s camp four sits the world’s most famous boulder: Midnight Lightning. A stark-white, chalk lightning bolt emblazoned on its middle points to the name.

Ron Kauk made the first ascent in 1978 and returns to explain the iconic line.

Lynn hill claimed the first female ascent and John “Verm” Sherman wants to climb it again. Many climbers believe it represents a true V8 difficulty, with climbs rated higher or lower depending on how they compare to Midnight Lightning.

Since the 1978 first ascent, the line remains a bucket-list ascent for climbers everywhere.

Episode 2: C’etait Demain – Fontainebleau

Near Paris lies the boulder field of Fontainebleau. C’etait Demain, Font’s first 8a-rated (V11) boulder was first climbed in 1984 by Jacky Godoffe.

The name, “C’etait Demain,” translates to “looking backward.” Godoffe named it after the science fiction book he had just read by Edward Bellay.

“I found the name very symbolic for a transition from past to future,” recalled Godoffe in an interview with Mammut Magazine.

In an area as infamous for bouldering as Fontainebleau, the first 8a climb remains a test-piece for visitors.

Episode 3: Dreamtime – Ticino

The super steep “Dreamtime” route in the Ticino area of Switzerland boasts delicate crimps on a nearly 45-degree overhanging blank wall. Fred Nicole made the first ascent in 2000 and rated it 8c (V15), debatably the hardest climb in the world at the time.

He reflected on the naming of the route in Mammut Magazine:

“‘Dreamtime’ means a kind of half-dreaming trance, somewhere between dream and reality, or a dream that becomes reality. When I saw the line for the first time, I thought: ‘Wow! Is that even possible?’ And then it finally happened.”

Jan Hojer accompanied Nicole to repeat the climb. When Hojer first began trying the route, he exclaimed, “It’s the perfect boulder!”


Nate Mitka

Midwest born, Nate Mitka is based in the GearJunkie Denver office. He is an advocate of all outdoor activities and has developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.