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The Impossible Problem 

Hueco: V8 Font: 7B

Type:  Boulder, Alpine
Original:  Hueco: V8 Font: 7B [details]
FA: Bill Patton, late '90s.
Page Views: 4,911
Submitted By: Pat McGinn on Sep 29, 2009

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BETA PHOTO: the new hold

Seasonal Raptor Closures for access issues: please review


I spent a number of days trying this route and was shut down by weather.

This is the climb to do in Smuggs. It starts off on a two positive crimps at about head height. You make a move up to a terrible two finger pocket that nearly ripped all of my skin off. Then slap your feet on terrible edges and smear on the left part of the arete. Make a very difficult move up to a terrible hold on the lip. Slap a large bucket and finish.


Crashpad and a spotter

Photos of The Impossible Problem Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Hannah checking out some options
Hannah checking out some options
Rock Climbing Photo: Impossible Problem
Impossible Problem

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 10, 2016
By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
Sep 30, 2009

FA: Bill Patton, late '90s.
By Jeremiah Johnson
From: Contoocook, NH
Feb 25, 2010
rating: V7+ 7A+

Felt really hard for the grade to me. That polished schist...
By Colin R
From: Ottawa, ON
Apr 8, 2010
rating: V8 7B

If you can do this problem you will have some street cred in VT
By Lanky
From: Tired
Jun 1, 2010

This description is a little odd: the pocket is definitely sharp, but you can easily get four fingers in it, and it's even crimpable.

Also - anyone think that the right exit (which I've heard referred to as "the Improbable Problem") is worth it's own entry? I think it's probably a touch harder than Impossible, but not a full grade harder.
By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
Jun 2, 2010


"The Improbable Problem" is a separate problem unto itself, not just an alternate ending our right. "T.I.P." starts on the steep arete/roof around the corner and to the right of "The Impossible Problem". It is an independent line that ends a few feet to the right of the prominent prow. FA--Ethan Peck, 2004.
By Lanky
From: Tired
Jun 2, 2010

Cool. Thanks for the info Chris. I assume it starts sitting on the big block just to the right of Impossible and climbs slopers up the arete/roof feature.
By Colin R
From: Ottawa, ON
Aug 8, 2010
rating: V8 7B

So it seems the sharp crystal pocket has broken as of two weeks ago. I can't say that it suprises me this has happened as it had been flexing for years. Regardless, what remains is a crimp that isn't quite as good and the consensus seems to be that it's now a solid V8. I would agree with this as I was working on it today and the moves felt very "campus-like" and more desperate than before.
By marlon
Oct 19, 2010

Chris -
Actually I did the FA of the Improbable. Ethan was going to call it the Impeckable if he had gotten the FA. Bummer to hear that the hold on the Impossible broke but pretty amazing that it lasted as long as it did.
By guy bon
Sep 11, 2011

I've found that if you are on the tall side, alternate beta makes this considerably easier. Instead of making the move to the broken pocket first, I use the starting hold as a gaston and crank up left hand to the crimp on the lip...
By Lanky
From: Tired
Sep 30, 2011

The former pocket apparently broke again. Sounds brick hard now.
By guy bon
Nov 4, 2011

re-sent this a couple days ago after the complete disappearance of the flexi-pocket/crimp. Doesn't seem any harder for the taller folks!
By Seth Maciejowski
Dec 28, 2012

Thump and Forest Thump on the other end of the boulder are the problems that are no longer doable. A large boulder that fell off the deep end buttress is now pasted to the face right where the line of "Thump" was.
Primate is still intact, but may be slightly contrived now.
By Colin R
From: Ottawa, ON
Sep 13, 2013
rating: V8 7B

The hold has broken yet again from my understanding and is complete crap now. There's no way it is V7 anymore....
By eddysamson
Apr 28, 2014
rating: V8+ 7B+

I've done this a few times since the holds in question broke. I start with left and right hands on crimps with NO feet and campus to the crimp rail under the broken pocket with my right hand. Then I campus again with my left to the crimp on the lip. Get feet then finish as it always has.
By eddysamson
Jun 18, 2014
rating: V8+ 7B+

Can we get a grade update on this? I don't think you can call it V7 when it was called a 7 before the key hold broke. Most people's submitted grades on here are from before the break. I've personally struggled on it and seen other strong climbers struggle on it enough to warrant the V8 grade.
By Daniel Olmschenk
Jul 4, 2014

The grade is height dependent at this point (which is sorta lame). I can keep my foot on the low left rail until hitting the lip. I think my fingers would explode trying to campus those crimps!
By Ian McAfee
From: Concord, NH
Aug 31, 2014
rating: V8 7B

Any beta after getting the lip? Start hand holds seem to be a bit too high to use as feet.
By eddysamson
Aug 31, 2014
rating: V8+ 7B+

I use the left starting hold Ian. I've also seen someone else campus it but that guy climbs very hard.
By eddysamson
May 16, 2015
rating: V8+ 7B+

Here's a video of the campus beta for the start, if the high right foot I use doesn't work for you, you can try to campus a 3rd time to the small sidepull.

By Bill Patton 1
From: Underhill
Jun 15, 2015

I've done this problem at each stage in its life. The pocket was originally huge and quite sharp with small pebbles that would roll around under your fingers. There was also a small 'tooth' right on the arete that you could (if you were flexible) get a left toe onto before even reaching for the pocket. This setup a sweet static move from the pocket to the next high left hand. When I was first shown the problem I was told that was as high as it went - from there on it was "impossible". Hence the name. A few years after I sent it, someone comfortized it by grinding off the rough edge and prying out the pebbles. I think this accelerated the eventual disintegration of the pocket. Second gen version was just after the pocket had broken - there was still a pretty good edge remaining. The current (and pretty stable version) has only edges left and no tooth on the arete. IMO (I'm 5 10) it is quite a bit harder than the og. The OG version was a clean consensus v7 and was the problem I tried to use as a benchmark for all the other graded problems I did in the notch. For someone of my advanced age and height I'd give it an 8+.
By Graham O.
Oct 10, 2016
rating: V8+ 7B+

Cool climb, the breakage has revealed a cool new hold!

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