It would be impossible to include all noteworthy ascents in this short article, so I have included the major players in world bouldering and some info on what they have been up to as well as any other interesting ascents that I know of. I apologise for missing anything out, if there weren't so many beasts out there it would be a bit easier.
To make this round up of reasonable length it will include only really significant ascents i.e. problems of 8b+ and harder - lets face it, 8b+ isn't even cutting edge anymore.
Paul Robinson - Seems to climb absolutely everything he sets eyes on. Most significantly, in March he climbed the famous sit start project to Rastaman Vibration, on the Evilution Boulder in Bishop CA to give Lucid Dreaming. It has been tried by many - including our very own Matt Birch. Paul said it was the hardest thing he has ever climbed and suggested a grade of 8c+. The problem looks amazing - lets hope Matt gets back to finish it off.
Paul Robinson - Lucid Dreaming (suggested grade 8c+) Image Black Diamond - Brandon Sampson
Paul then went off travelling - first stop was South Africa where he got the 2nd ascent of Fred Nicole's Monkey Wedding (8b+). Paul suggested upgrading this to 8c, thinking that it was the 2nd hardest bit of climbing he had ever done (after Lucid Dreaming). This goes to show just how much of a visionary Fred Nicole is. He seems to have been climbing far harder than anyone for far longer. He climbed Monkey Wedding way back in 2003, with a less refined and harder sequence! A true hero.
The rest of Paul's trip included a couple of 8b+'s (one took only 20mins!) and 8b's.
He then headed to Switzerland where it all seemed to kick off.
From Dirt Grows the Flowers (Chironico)
Ill Trill (magic wood) - First ascent
Ninja Skills (Chironico)
Big Paw (Chironico)
The Dagger (Cresciano)
Never Ending Story (Magic Wood)
Le Lent Silence du Moleskine (Fionnay)
Along with about 10 8b's!
After all this Paul went on to Font where he made very quick work of Kheops assis, in one session, and Gecko Assis, in 2 sessions. These are both 8b+ and are considered both to be very powerful, and massively technical - featuring the usual Font non-holds.
Daniel Woods - he is a total beast, by far the strongest man I have ever seen climb. He had a project in Boulder Canyon, CO which he spent a long time trying - longer than he has ever spent on anything before (he has climbed numerous font 8c's). When he eventually climbed it in February (after pulling some holds off and making it harder!) he said he thought it deserved 8c+. The Game was born. Big guns, big numbers. He also made the 3rd ascent of Fred Nicole's Terremer at Hueco tanks, another 8c in the same month! Interestingly Terremer is in quite a different style to The Game, being all about pulling on a tiny "credit card" crimp rather than the steep burl that The Game involves. This shows he is far from a one trick pony.
Later in the year Woods went on to make the first ascent of Hypnotized Minds (8c) in Colarado (see video). Those holds look small!
And added a few moves to the start of Esparanza (8b+) (yes, another ground breaking Fred Nicole problem) to create Desperanza (8c).
As if that wasn't enough Woods developed a new area in Colarado called Wolverineland with Dave Graham. Here he put up yet another 8c - Warrior Up, as well as 5 8b+'s.
Woods'Jade in Rock Mountain National Park, Colarado seemed to get loads of repeats (well, 7 in total now), and the big downgrade to 8b+. It was the first 8c in America when it was climbed back in 2007. It's funny how with more attention and ascents grades usually tend to settle down a little - but rarely go upwards.
Dave Graham - There's life in the old dog yet! Dave seems to have been at the cutting edge ever since he began climbing 13 years ago. Always finding new rock and always putting up world-class boulder problems. Although he has been doing battle with a few injuries, and spent months in Spain sport climbing, he still managed to climb 8 8b's, 6 8b+'s and 1 8c in 2010. Many of these were first ascents at the newly developed Wolverineland at Mount Evans, Colorado. Check out this video of the area:
Dave Graham's Font test-piece The Island (8b+) saw a lot of attention this year. In January Font local Vincent Pochon repeated it from a slightly lower start to give The Big Island. It seems petty to add a couple of straightforward moves and change the name but it has been his project for years, and this is always where he was trying it from. He said he thought it was 8c from this start, but only 8b+ from the old start. The Island was also repeated my Michele Caminati and Lucas Menegetti in the Autumn/Winter.
Image - Michele Caminati. The Island (8b+) Bouldering.pl
Adam Ondra - Spent a little while in Switzerland in November. He repeated Big Paw (8b+) and the next day did From the Dirt Grows the Flowers (8c). Pretty impressive considering he is a sport climber first and foremost but he can still rock up and climb the hardest boulder problems in the world with apparent ease.
Adam Ondra - From Dirt Grows The Flowers (8c). Image - Black Diamond.
Dai Koyamada - Went to Switzerland where he did The Dagger (8b+) 2nd session. Along with this he made lightning-fast ascents of New Base Line (8b+), and Riverbed (8b) on the same day.
As if this wasn't big news, Dai went back and repeated The Story of 2 Worlds (8c), Dave Graham's sit start to The Dagger (8b+) from 2005. This problem had seen a lot of attention, but no repeats. Considering the level that the top climbers are operating at now it is amazing to think that this very famous and talked about problem took so long to get repeated. Some people are suggesting it may even be font 8c+.
Dai Koyamada - The Dagger (8b+)
Dai also climbed Big Paw (8b+/8c) despite some terrible weather in November.
Radovan Soucek from the Czech Republic also repeated From Dirt Grows the Flowers (8c). Before this he had climbed one 8b and a couple of 8a+'s. I love it when an unknown climber appears from nowhere and crushes the big numbers! Radovan climbed it with the original finish (going direct with a desperate mantle) as you can see in this video of Bernd Zangerl on the 2nd ascent.
Hopefully we'll see more from this guy in the future.
Angie Payne - In August she climbed The Automator (8b), in Colarado. This is the first female ascent of a confirmed 8b. Anna Stohr, Austrian comp-beast did Riverbed in Magic Wood, this is also 8b, but longer, with easier moves on it. The Automator is a short(ish) power problem.
Angie also climbed No More Greener Grasses - a very short and powerful 8a+.
Alex Puccio -had a successful trip to Europe where she ticked a number of 8a's very quickly (2 8a's in a day, 2 days in a row!). She has also climbed 5 8a+'s this year, and flashed 7c+. Very impressive - how many men do you know operating at these standards? At the age of 21? Very few I reckon. Must try harder!
Natalija Gross - Comp crusher does a bit of bouldering. She flashed Confessions of a Crap Artist in Chironico, Switzerland. This is font 8a! First go! She also made a single session ascent of Les Beaux Quartiers (8a) in Fontainebleau.
Natalija Gross - Les Beaux Quartiers (8a) Image - P Ribiere
Therese Johansen - In 2010 this 21yr old Norwegian climbed 7 8a's and 2 8a+'s, in Switzerland and Norway. Clearly a name we will be seeing more of in the future.
Right, so on to the UK climbers. Are we falling behind? Definitely not...
Mickey Page - had yet another outstanding year. From Dirt Grows the Flowers (left hand finish) (8c), Big Paw (8b+), Entlinge (8c) (3rd ascent). A couple of 8c's and an 8b+, not to mention numerous 8b's, all in all pretty world class, even though Mickey seems to slip well under the radar. The UK's best boulderer by far. See Entlinge
Mina Leslie-Wujastyk - has continued to crush hard boulder problems all year. She made a very fast ascent of Pump Up the Power at Raven Tor (yes, ok it is a route but it is usually climbed as a boulder problem nowadays). Although this is "only" 7c+ it is considered nails, and Mina did it 2nd session. She then went on to crush Switzerland - climbing 4 8a's in a couple of months. The problems she did are considered to be really burly (e.g. Frank's Wild Year and La Pelle), not your average girly problems on tiny crimps.
Sam Davenhall - At The Heart Of It All (8b+). This mega hard roof from John Gaskins has seen off many strong boulderers in its time. Unlike other Gaskins problems to have been repeated, this one seems to have only one possible sequence. The only way is the original Gaskins way, and it is mind blowingly hard. Repeating this is a mega effort and Sam deserves maximum respect for it. It is HARD and contrary to popular belief it is actually quite a good boulder problem - if you are into very steep limestone with microscopic holds. Sam has also repeated Kaizen (8b+) albeit with a slightly different sequence to Gaskins since the starting hold fell off some years ago.
John Gaskins on At The Heart Of It All (8b+) Image courtesy Greg Chapman - Lakesbloc.com.
Adam Ondra is the man. He won the 2010 Bouldering World Cup, beating the usual favourite Kilian Fischhuber. This is no mean feat as Kilian has a very good track record for comps. Since 2004 he has finished every World Cup season in 1st or 2nd place. This sort of consistency is incredible as there are always about 20 people at each World Cup round that are capable of winning. Anyway, this year Ondra was on a mission to win, and he did!
He also did rather well in the European Championships. This event contains both a leading and bouldering comp. Ondra was very close to taking both titles, but was pipped at the post, having to settle for two silver medals - still an amazing effort. Cedric Lachat (Switzerland) won the bouldering and Ramon Julien (Spain) won the leading.
Check out Udo Neumann's video of the European championships. Also if you're into comps he has made a nice video of each the 2010 bouldering World Cups that are worth a look.
Britain's very own Stewart Watson had a blinding season - finishing the World Cup season 6th overall. This is the best British result since Malcolm Smith finished 2nd back in 2002. Stew's best individual result was 4th in Vienna.
Dave Barrans also had a good season, making the finals in Eindhoven, finishing 5th and placing 18th overall.
The women's World Cup was a more exciting and varied affair. In the End Akiyo Noguchi (Japan) just beat Anna Stohr (Austria) to first place, on the last problem of the last round. It is always close between these two, and they are normally both on the podium. Despite losing her World Cup title, Anna won the European Championships - well Akiyo wasn't there so it was to be expected really!
Chloe Graftiaux - Image Dave MacFarlane
No 2010 comp climbing report would be complete without mentioning Chloe Graftiaux, of Belguim. Chloe was killed in a climbing accident in the Alps. While she was soloing on easy ground some loose rock came off causing her to fall. Chloe was such a talented climber in all aspects of the sport, from bouldering comps, to multi pitch trad to alpine climbing and dry tooling. She was a regular face on the comp circuit and 2010 had been her most successful year, winning both the Sheffield and Vail (USA) rounds of the world cup. This is such a tragic loss of a very young and talented climber. She will be missed.