The Rockies are full of old projects, routes that were too technically difficult to free at the time. Urs Kallen told Sonnie Trotter about one such project.

Urs Kallen, 71, still gets out exploring for new lines, this time in K Country  Photo B Pullan

Urs Kallen, 71, still gets out exploring for new lines, this time in K Country Photo Brandon Pullan

By Sonnie Trotter

In 1975 three Rockies legends scoured The Bow Valley in search of the next great aid line. At the time, they were preparing themselves for a very early repeat of the Shield on El Capitan in Yosemite, and hoped to find the perfect training ground close to home. The Shield is a thin, technically challenging seam, and the three local boys (found in this photo below), finally discovered what they thought would be the ideal line, a rare and steep splitter finger crack on a blank wall.

Unfortunately a snow storm prevented them from reaching the crack itself, and they retreated from the second pitch, leaving behind some classic Chouinard knifeblades and shallow Cassin bolts. Some of which we removed for Kallen’s collection, other’s we left in place for protection for future free ascents.

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Urs Kallen, Rob Mitchell and Billy Davidson never returned to the climb on Little Goat Mountain and it sat uninterrupted for 39 years.

Two days ago, Jon Walsh, Sam Eastman and Myself hiked back up to the route and I made the first free ascent. Although the climbing wasn’t as challenging as it looked from the ground, it gave me great pleasure to finish what was started in the Golden Era by three inspiring hard-men of the day.

The line goes at 5.12-, and we called it 1975.

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Sonnie Trotter on the first ascent of 1975

Sonnie Trotter on the first ascent of 1975

The original 1975 hardware  Photo Sam Eastman

The original 1975 hardware Photo Sam Eastman

A remake of the original 1975 photo: Top photo from the first attempt, from left to right Urs Kallen, Rob Mitchel, and Bill Davidson. Bottom photo from the first free ascent, left to right Jon Walsh, Sonnie Trotter, and Sam Eastman

A remake of the original 1975 photo: Top photo from the first attempt, from left to right Urs Kallen, Rob Mitchel, and Bill Davidson.
Bottom photo from the first free ascent, left to right Jon Walsh, Sonnie Trotter, and Sam Eastman

Sonnie Trotter is one of the world’s best climbers. Be sure to check out his website for his recent adventures.


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