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Katie Lamb Becomes First Woman to Send V16 Boulder Problem: ‘Box Therapy’

What does it take to send one of the world's hardest boulder problems? Just ask Katie Lamb, one of the brightest lights in the fast-growing discipline.

katie lambKatie Lamb, seen above on 'Book Club,' just sent the hardest boulder ever climbed by a woman; (photo/screenshot)
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By reaching the top of a 20-foot boulder, Katie Lamb has pulled off a major accomplishment for climbers everywhere.

The 25-year-old boulderer has made plenty of climbing news in the last few years for sending some of the sport’s hardest routes. She’s now raised the bar once again by sending Daniel Woods’ Box Therapy, a V16 problem in Rocky Mountain National Park that’s likely now the most difficult boulder climbed by a woman.

Since Woods first established the route in 2018, only three climbers finished the problem before Lamb showed up. That puts her in an elite bouldering category — for both men and women.

“The pieces fit together on Box, and quickly it was about silencing my doubts and flipping the switch,” Lamb wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “It’s a headspace fed as much by days outside shooting the shit as by days alone in the mountains.”

Lamb grew up in Boston and started climbing from a young age at crags throughout New England, according to her bio with La Sportiva. After moving to California in 2016, she quickly moved up the ladder of bouldering grades, sending V14s like Jade and The Swarm.

In April, she topped out on Spectre, a Bishop climb from Dave Graham (rated V13 or V14+ depending on the climber’s height) that had also never seen a female ascent.

She was also featured in a documentary from La Sportiva about her send of Book Club, a V14 that GearJunkie wrote about in December 2022.

As for Box Therapy, it’s unusual among tough boulders for two reasons: It’s at an altitude of 10,500 feet and requires a 7-mile hike from a trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Climbing icon Tommy Caldwell first spotted the boulder’s potential about 15 years ago. He established a V11 route along the seam that cuts through the overhanging rock. Box Therapy starts lower down, requiring even more crimping on tiny holds with limited placement for feet.

In his own Instagram post, Keenan Takahashi, Lamb’s photographer, summed up her accomplishment succinctly: “the stuff of legends.”

“This year, it was clear that you were leveled up and ready for something harder,” Takahashi wrote of Lamb. “Box was always something we’d talked about; after the first sesh, I saw you shift into execution mode, something I’ve only seen in a handful of the very best in the world. I knew with your mental game that you’d get it done.”

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