Memorable Moments from Canadian Climbing in 2022
This year saw some big broadcasts across Canada, and as we prepare to welcome 2023, here’s a look back at just a few of the many highlights in Canada and by Canadians Abroad in 2022. For more climbing highlights of 2022, click here .
Allison Vest broadcasts V14: In early 2022, Allison Vest climbed the Show Your Scars in Ogden, Utah, becoming the first Canadian to climb the V14. After submitting it, Vest said, “This boulder tested every mental tactic I had and forced me to learn some new ones. I can’t believe 10+ sessions and a landslide of doubt later that I’m on top after weeks of dreaming of being there.” Vest sent several more tough issues this year including Magic Touch V13, Nothin But Sunshine V13 and Cinderella is Dead V13. As the first Canadian to also climb V13, Vest has pushed Canadian climbing at least twice.
Bronwyn Hodgins climbs 5.13d/5.14a Trad: Squamish-based climber and guide Bronwyn Hodgins repeated Necronomicon 5.13d/14a in Utah. With a length of 30 meters and a 90 degree overhang, the track is one of the toughest roof cracks in the world. Quebec crack champion Jean-Pierre Ouellet made the first ascent in 2011. Hodgins sent the line on her fifth day of working the route, during her second real redpoint attempt. Originally rated 5.13d/14a, Hodgins believes the grade is on the low end for her due to her smaller hand size. Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker battled where the rift thins out to tight reds and greens that require paddles and finger locks to get through the crux. To get through other difficult sections, they often had to clip or twist their feet. Hodgins used similar tricks, including multiple 360-degree spins and a hands-free double kneebar. She chose not to place any gear during the crux, resulting in too much air while projecting the route.
Bladerunner freed at 5.14 Trad: Ben Harnden, one of Squamish’s most accomplished 5.14 trad climbers, cleared an old support route on the Kashmir Wall in Squamish at 5.14b/c. The route was established in 2000 by Pat Delaney and John Furneaux. Jeremy Smith made the first free ascent of the first pitch at 5.12 b/c, and climbers over the years had been looking at the second pitch – the pitch Harnden had recently projected and freed. Harnden spent over 20 days working on Bladerunner’s second pitch, including the Big Move V12. After broadcasting, he shared the news on Instagram, noting that he was using twin ropes: “Twin rope fun on pitch two from Blade Runner. 25+ days on this single course.”
Joe Skopec’s 5.14+ in Ontario: This summer, Joe Skopec, who has repeated most of Ontario’s toughest sport routes, made the first free ascent of an old Mark Smith project at Lion’s Head in what he says is his toughest redpoint yet. He called it my curse. “As for the grade 8c+/9a [5.14c/14d]’ said Skopec. “I haven’t tried a 9a yet [5.14d] and no idea. All I know is that it’s harder than any 8c+ [5.14c] I tried. Unfortunately, Ontario doesn’t have many top 5.14s.” Skopec said it’s probably one of the toughest routes in Ontario, and broke it down: “5.13d, rest, V12, rest, pumpy 5.13d to anchors for about 100 feet .” Of the process, Skopec said, “It was hard to be mentally prepared just by training alone in my garage. It was very tiring just staying on track and just waiting for good temperatures.” Referring to the focus required to broadcast My Curse, Skopec said: “The route is a mental battle. The crux is super extended by jumping two bolts, after that it’s all about 15 feet apart.” Skopec said that broadcasting My Curse brought tears to his eyes. “I gave up so much in life to be in shape for this life. It was all worth it in the end.” We will have a feature about Skopec in the next issue of seized.
Lucas Uchida’s strong season: Lucas Uchida had an outstanding season in Squamish. He repeated Dreamcatcher 5.14d and became the fourth person to climb The Singularity, a notoriously difficult V14 in Squamish. Also that season he flashed Room Service V12, repeated Deadlift 14 and North North Ridge V14, made the FA of Offenders of Faith V13 and made the possible second ascent of The Pool LowV13.
Félicien Roy launches new version 5.14b: Quebec climber Félicien Roy spent several days this year at Lone Rock Point in northern Vermont. During one visit, he connected several of the test piece lines into a Monster 5.14b, which he called A Tribord, Toute! Roy said the climb was an “amazing marathon of climbing that traverses the entire overhanging section of the rock”. It starts with Ghostface Drilla 5.13c/d and moves right with burly heel hooks to a break at seven yards. From there you climb a horizontal tuff that offers a cool kneeling bar. After this you will reach a rest at anchor for King Tubby 5.14a. Get ready for the final push to the top via Terror Wolf: the Howling Undead Warrior 5.13c. Roy visited Greece earlier this year where he climbed routes up to 5.14. Before leaving, he spent time at Lone Rock Point where his tally included Livin Astro 5.14c, Riviera 5.13d, Texas 5.13d, Welcome to Jamrock 5.14b and the first ascent of Tubby Wolf 5.14b.
New giant WI6+ climbed in Quebec: Jean-Philippe Bélanger, Yan Mongrain and Charles Roberge climbed some Sweet Ice Climbs 120 kilometers north of Sept-Îles in Haute-Moisie, not far from the Newfoundland-Labrador border, last winter. They set up a 180-meter route called Patte Blanche WI5, a 170-meter WI5 called La Tanière, and a wild three-pitch route that ascends three-dimensional ice through rooftops and along pillars. They called it Maïkan, which translates to wolf, a 150 meter long WI6+.
New Yamnuska 5.12c: Rory O’Donnell and Cory Rogans added a new route on Yamnuska called People of the Sun, which climbs six pitches up to 5.12c. They climbed it from the bottom and drilled for lead. It follows a line between Astro Yam and Quantum Leap. Jon Walsh and Katie Reeder joined them on some days. It’s the first daring route climbed from the ground up on the famous limestone peak in over a decade. There are some big runouts between small gears with a few bolts.
New Rockies 5.15a and Hard Sends: At the end of the rock season, Miles Adamson made the first ascent of Semantics on University Wall east of Canmore and suggested a grade of 5.15a. He projected the route over several seasons and sent it off with a rope soloist – read more here. Rockies’ Kelly Drager sent The Shadow, a big 5.13d, down Echo Canyon. Also in Echo Canyon, Mike Doyle repeated Honor and Glory, giving it a personal mark of 5.14b/c.
Canadians on El Capitan: Ontario big wall specialist Pete Zabrok, who has slept on the side of El Capitan for over 800 nights, Quebec scrambler Tom Canac and Colorado native Luke Antonia made the second ascent of Atlantis on El Cap. It was first climbed in 2005 by David Turner solo with VI 5.9 A4. In our spring issue we feature an article on this historic rise. They spent 18 days on the wall with 12 days’ worth of food.
New Himalayan route: Rockies-based climbers Maarten Van Haeren and Ethan Berman spent almost two months in Nepal during which time they made a significant first ascent. As Van Haeren reported: “Our base camp was managed by Namgyal Sherpa and deliciously prepared by our chef Dawa Sherpa. Despite our language barriers we got to know and trust these guys, couldn’t have asked for a better team! We used our time at base camp to explore our intended mountain, acclimate, rest, further acclimate and finally climb! On a five-day round trip, we managed the first ascent of the NE face of Khang Karpo (6,647 m) via Tiny Changes (TD+ AI4 M5 1,200 m). We spent three nights on the wall, my highest night at 6,300m. We found mostly great but cold conditions with lots of boot swinging and puffy wearing. Not finding a great alternative descent while acclimatizing, we spent our last day descending most of the face.”
Hard climbs on The Chief: In May, Stu Smith managed the second ascent of Bugwand 5.14a with eight pitches. “It happened pretty quickly,” he says. “Good route, that.” Also on The Chief, Sonnie Trotter made the second ascent of Heavy Fuel, a 5.13dR first climbed by Will Stanhope last year. And American Jesse Huey made the first ascent of a multi-year project that is now one of the toughest pry corners in Squamish. He didn’t rate the crux, calling it Stélmexw, which means man, but said it was the toughest climb of his style, which he redpointed. At Tantalus Wall, Jacob Cook and Drew Marshall added Balance, a four-pitch 5.13b pitch that bolted from the ground up and has some big run-outs. They also made the first ascent of Thousand-Year Storm, a 40-metre 5.13a alternative finish to Balance, which is described as being of high quality. And in the South Gully, Jason Green and his crew made the first ascent of The Manitou, a new 5.11+ eight-pitch route. It was a multi-year project that began back in the 1990s.
More Hard Squamish Sends: Renee Rogge, originally from Ontario, made the second ascent of Total Fascination, which was first climbed by the late Marc-André Leclerc. The 5.13b was their first route of this grade and is located in the Smoke Bluffs. In Paradise Valley, Jonathan Siegrist managed the second ascent of Spirit Quest 5.14d and the first ascent of a new 5.14b for a direct finish to Queen Bee. Also in Paradise Valley, Gabe Lawson opened Young King Dave, a 35-meter route groomed by Scott Milton, in 5.14C with a hefty V11 boulder problem. And at Cheakamus, Sonnie Trotter found and drilled a new four-bolt 5.13a up a steep short wall with a V8-esque move. Other difficult routes added to Check include Pat Sweeney’s Butterfly Mile 5.13b/c, Gabe Lawson’s Tim’s Sloper Problem 5.14b, and Graham McGrenere’s The Scruffening 5.13d.
Snowpatch Spire Rockfall: Earlier in the winter, a massive rockfall destroyed a dozen via ferratas on Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos, including Tom Egan Memorial Route 5.14. Read here which routes were changed by the rockfall.
If we’ve missed something that should be on this list, let us know at [email protected] Happy New Year and be safe climbing, skiing and playing in the mountains!