Paul Robinson is an American rock climber who is known for his bouldering accomplishments over the years. Not only has be climbed more than 1,000 boulders with a grade 8A/V11 or harder, but he has a passion for developing new climbing areas and is constantly in search of the next new quality project.
Paul started climbing at age 10 at a friend’s birthday party at an indoor climbing gym and since then climbing has been a primary focus in his life. He moved to Colorado at the age of nineteen to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder, and after he graduated he really wanted to explore and develop new climbing areas.
In May of 2020, Paul surpassed 1,000 boulders 8A (V11) or harder, an accomplishment that few climbers ever reach. He had done 410 8A’s (V11), 287 8A+ (V12), 192 8B (V13), 90 8B+ (V14), and 21 8C (V15) over the course of 16.5 years. Some of his hardest first ascents included Lucid Dreaming (V15), Ill Trill (V14/15), The New Chapter (V15), and The Pirate’s Code (V15) and many more. He also had some difficult flashes such as Candyland (V12), Nagual (V13), Jack’s Broken Heart (V12), and more. You can read more about his feat in this interview with Planet Mountain and a quite long, more in-depth look at his journey on Climbing.com.
While he spends most of his time bouldering, he has competed before. He took second place at the American Bouldering Series (ABS) National Championships in 2007 and in the following year, he took first place in front of Chris Sharma. He’s also competed in the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Bouldering World Cup, placing fourth and sixth over the years.
In 2017, Paul released a documentary called Uncharted Lines, which was a feature length film about climbing first ascents and new areas around the world in places like Spain and Zimbabwe. It starred Paul and other well known climbers like Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods, Chris Sharma, and Niky Ceria.
Paul is still very active in the climbing community and is constantly exploring new places to climb. He posts frequently on social media, so you can keep up with him by following him on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
Flashes Candyland (V12) – 2019
In the early summer months of 2019, Paul hiked into Wild Basin to visit the Glass Tower boulder in Colorado. He flashed Candyland (V12), climbed Glass Tower (V12) on his second attempt, and did the low start to Glass Tower (V13). It was quite the productive day in the beautiful weather!
Bouldering V14 – Jumpman in 2018
Jumpman (V14) is a Daniel Woods classic that finishes off with an all-points off dyno jump. It’s located in Colorado, and Paul Robinson had a hard journey bouldering the problem. He struggled against ten days in a row below freezing, and finally won the war on a cold winter day. You can watch a mini documentary of his ascent, which includes voice over from Paul himself about his internal thoughts while climbing. Paul said “Sometimes when you start to give up and think something is impossible, you have to take a step back and reevaluate.”
First Ascent Spree in South Africa – 2014
In 2014, Paul spent almost two months bouldering in South Africa, with a focus between Rocklands and Cape Town. This was his fifth trip to South Africa, and on his fourth he had explored and hiked through this zone with Carlo Traversi and Ashima Shiraishi, but at the time didn’t have the eye to see its potential. He returned in 2014 to Three Corners area and established almost 30 new problems that range from V6 to V15, including In the Depths of Solitude (V15). In an interview, Paul said “The area is incredibly beautiful and had some of the coolest projects I have ever tried.”
Jaws II (9a+/5.15a) – 2013
In Rumney, New Hampshire, Paul made the fifth ascent of Jaws II (5.15a). It was one of the only 5.15’s in America after a hold broke from the original Dave Graham line, taking it from 5.14b to 5.15a. Paul had first tried Jaws in 2011 and became obsessed with the route, spending time on it over the course of a couple years but struggling with the mental battle of the two cruxes. After his climb in October of 2013, it was his hardest sport climb to date. You can watch the video of his experience here.
Paul Opens The New Chapter (V15) – 2013
Paul opened a new V15 boulder problem in Arkansas’ Idaho Boulders called The New Chapter. The year was 2013, and the route is a low start to Child’s Play (V13), which was established by Daniel Woods and repeated by Paul and Jimmy Webb earlier in 2013. Paul said it was “one of the sickest roof climbs” he had ever done.
Paint it Black (V15) – 2012
Paint it Black is a 65 degree roof problem located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and is a V15 that was established by Daniel Woods in February of 2012. Less than two months later, Paul claimed the second ascent of the route, as well as the second ascent of another Woods route, Mirror Reality (V14). Paul said on public ticklist on 27Crags: “amazing boulder! props to DW for putting up one of the best lines in colorado. pure roof boulder with incredible movements. crux foot move for me!“
2nd Ascent of Angama (V15) – 2011
Paul claimed the second ascent of Dai Koyomada’s Angama (V15) in March of 2011. The route is in Fontainebleau, France, and Paul was finishing up a nine month trip through Europe. On his 8a.nu scorecard, he said “2nd ascent. climbs SUPER well, flowy. so hard to do that last hard move at the end! around 18 moves total.” He had already climbed the most difficult lines on this boulder, including Satan i Helvete (V13) and Satan i Helvete Assis (V14).
The Story of Two Worlds (V15) – 2011
The Story of Two Worlds (V15) is located in Switzerland and Paul took the second ascent of the problem in March of 2011. It was opened by Dave Graham in January of 2005, but hadn’t been properly repeated until then. Dai Koyomada tried to get the second ascent, but didn’t start at the right place due to incorrect beta, skipping the first three moves. Paul said it was a “dream come true! What a huge relief!“
Gritstone Classics in England – 2011
While he was experiencing poor weather in France, Paul took a quick day trip to England to explore London and climb some famous boulder problems in the Peak District. It only took him a day, but he came away with an impressive tick list of the classic gritstone routes Deliverance (V8), Brad Pitt (V10), and The Ace (V13). Paul said “Every climb I did and the few brief hours I had on the grit were incredible…”
Paul Climbs V14 in only 20 Minutes – Derailed in 2010
While in the very beginnings of a global bouldering trip, Paul wasted no time in climbing Rocklands’ Derailed (V14) in only twenty minutes. He had briefly tried the problem last trip, and said it had “very cool movement.” He also commented that he felt “strong and psyched for the remainder of trip!!!“
Lucid Dreaming (V16) – 2010
Paul Robinson claimed the first ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V16), an explosive sit start to the highball problem Rastaman Vibration. It’s located in The Buttermilks of California, and at the time Paul was a 22-year-old Fine Arts student at the University of Colorado. He had first attempted the problem in early 2008, but didn’t stick the long dyno until March of 2010. This climb thrust him into the climbing world spotlight and it was #317 on his journey to 1,000 boulders 8A rated or harder.
Wood Grain Grippin’ in Arkansas (V14) – 2009
Near Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the area of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch lies Wood Grain Grippin’, an V14/8B+ boulder problem that was first climbed by David Graham in 2008. It was repeated by Daniel Woods, and Paul Robinson took the third ascent in late 2009. It took him one day and about ten tries, and he had also climbed other boulders in the area such as Typhoon (V10/7C+), Bloody Knuckles (V11/8A), Loved By Few, Hated By Many (V13/8B), and The Anti-Hero (V13/8B).
Terremer (V15) & Nagual (V13) – 2008
Back in 2008, Paul took the 2nd ascent of Terremer (V15) in Hueco Tanks and said it was “The hardest boulder I have ever done so far.” It was established by Swiss climber Fred Nicole two years earlier and at the time it was the most challenging problem at Hueco Tanks.
Just a few months prior, Paul had flashed Nagual (V13) and by doing so became the first American and second person (behind James Pearson) to flash 8B/V13.
Jade (V14) – 2007
Robinson took the third ascent of Jade (V14), which is now one of the most popular V14 boulder problems of all time. This climb made news in the climbing community, and could be considered one of the main turning points in his early career. This problem would later be flashed by Adam Ondra in 2015 and has seen big names like Ashima, Alex Puccio, Nalle Hukkataival, and more.