Keita Kurakami uncovers his Discovery at Yakushima in Japan
Japanese rock climber Keita Kurakami provides thoughtful insight into the mentality behind his first ascent of the boulder problem 'Discovery' on the island of Yakushima, Japan.
Keita Kurakami rarely does things by halves. The Japanese rock climber, best known for his rope solo free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite in 2018, has a commendable, ground-up approach when it comes to hard boulders and highballs, and only very recently did he decide for the very first time to check out a hold on toprope. The problem he subsequently climbed, called Discovery, is located at a bouldering area he is currently developing on the island of Yakushima. While details of this are lacking at present, the insight he provides into his mentality and process is fascinating and well-worth examining carefully.
YAKUSHIMA DISCOVERY by Keita Kurakami
In my bouldering career, I have always been obsessed with ground-ups, and hanging on a rope to check holds on a boulder was the most uncool compromise I had ever made as a climber.
In fact, Discovery was the first time in my life that I hung on a rope to check a hold on a boulder, and until then, I thought that hanging on a rope on a boulder was like admitting my weakness as a climber and losing the value of climbing. I had always thought that if I compromised on my style of climbing, I would never be able to climb with any satisfaction.
But Discovery, which took the biggest compromise of all, still became one of the best climbs of my bouldering career. It may be the first time since Senjitsu no Ruri and The Nose - rope solo free - that I have cried after completing the climb.
Is it the ego that is preserved by holding on to that obsession and pride? Or the experience gained by letting go of them? I don't know which is more valuable in life.
The only thing I can say, however, is that because I have kept that pride for 20 years, I have had the best opportunity to let go of it, and I have gained a deeper experience and discovery by letting go of it.