Katie Lamb Becomes First Woman to Send V16

katie lamb on box therapy v16 boulder
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The 25-year-old La Sportiva team American climber Katie Lamb has made history again, becoming the first woman to climb Daniel Wood’s Box Therapy V16 boulder problem.

Located in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Box Therapy is one of the most challenging boulders to send, not just because of the grade but also because of the approach. 

Katie did it after a grueling month of hiking the seven miles up to the boulder (at an altitude of 3169 meters) and spending as much time as possible on-site. 

As a climber Katie has stated that she is pretty single-minded and focuses as much as possible on a single project until she sends it. In this case she did just that. 

Climbing legend Tommy Caldwell made the first discovery of the Box Therapy boulder in 2008. He firstly developed the Spread Eagle problem (V11), a stand-start variation of this route that skips approximately half of Box Therapy.

About ten years later, Daniel Woods discovered a variation to Spread Eagle, with a low-start adding the lower section of the problem turning it into a V14 or V15. This is followed by a V12 series of moves. As a result, Box Therapy V16 was created. Daniel managed to FA the route after projecting for seven days and hiking a total of almost 100 miles up to the boulder. The second ascent was made only three years ago in 2021 by Drew Ruana and Sean Bailey.

During its history, there have been a number of candidates for this route. Shawn Raboutou’s sister Brooke Raboutou may have made the most prominent attempt when she came dangerously close to sending the problem in a single day.

Keenan Takahashi, Katie’s photographer said “Stuff of legends”, in his Instagram post, and he was damn right!

Katie discussed the steps she took to complete this route in a piece in Climbing Magazine, claiming that as soon as she put an end to her doubts that she was not strong enough, the moves began to connect and fit together. 

She also credits her achievement to getting in the correct frame of mind and “trying to fill her cup” by spending time by herself in nature. However, as Lamb notes, the fact that she was able to “show up” to the route and be mentally present each time she arrived at the boulder had a significant impact on her ability to send the climb.

Before sending her first V16, Lamb had many very impressive accomplishments under V15, a grade that she incredibly fully skipped. When it comes to V14’s, Katie has many classics under her belt, such as:

  • Jade 
  • New Base Line
  • Direct North
  • The Book Club

Another impressive feat of strength was made in the winter of 2021 when she spent the month of December climbing Dave Graham’s The Swarm (V13), a grueling climb that allowed her to spend only six days on the rock, dedicating the rest to healing her skin.

Earlier this year, Katie had another remarkable achievement, making the first female ascent of Spectre, another of Dave Graham’s behemoths of a route in Bishop, which is graded V13/V14+ depending on the climber’s size.

Featured Image: Photo by Keenan Takahashi / @ktlambies

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