This summer 5.14 big walls are making the news in North America. Photos of Will Stanhope and Matt Segal working on the Tom Egan Memorial Route on Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos were commonplace on social media. Climbers camped at Applebee had their cameras fixed on Snowpatch, as the pair tried to free climb the old aid route. This is their second year of effort, they note the route is 5.14.
Sonnie Trotter spent his summer in the Rockies establishing Castles in the Sky, 5.14, on Castle Mountain. The route is a breakthrough in Canadian standards, rising hundreds of metres above the valley floor.
American Barbara Zangerl made the first female ascents of the three routes of the Alpine Trilogy in Euorpe: Silbergeier (8b+, 6 pitches) in Switzerland’s Rätikon, established by Beat Kammerlander, End of Silence (8b+, 11 pitches) in Germany, put up by Thomas Huber and Des Kaisers neue Kleider (8b+, 240m) put up by Stefan Glowacz.
Tommy Caldwell free climbed the 1972 Dunn-Westbay route on Longs Peak in Colorado at 5.14a. In September David Allfrey, Nik Berry, and Mason Earle have climbed a new, all-free link-up on the north face of Mt. Hooker in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. The route is graded 5.14a. It combines the first seven pitches of Sendero Luminoso, (VI 5.10 A4), then traverses right into the upper sections of Shady Lady (VI 5.11 A4, Bradshaw-Dockery, 1978). Hookers north face is 600-metres and is over thirty-kilometres from the road.
With free climbing standards higher than ever, the future of 5.14 big walls is bright. This fall a group of strong climbers are in Yosemite trying to add to the growing list of big, hard routes in North America.