Sonnie Trotter sent his new route on Castle Mountain on Labour Day Weekend. He named the route Castles in the Sky. The route is five-pitches and graded it 5.14a.
He had worked on the route sporadically over the summer. The route climbs a dolomite prow on the lower-band of Castle. The first and last couple of pitches are moderate and the steep business is in the middle. Trotter invited me (Brandon Pullan) up to experience the route. It feels like hanging around on El Cap, with the valley floor 500 metres below. The storms rolled randomly, bringing with them cold rain and strong winds. Often while belaying the slack rope below would be blown straight up.
Trotter established the route with Sam Eastman from Toronto, the 17-year-old climber who spent his summer in the Rockies. Oregon-based photographer Ben Moon spent a number of days helping with the route. Moon was a key member of the Butt Face, the 5.9 Squamish Buttress variation, a few years ago. On a few occasions Sam Lambert, the young Rockies sender, belayed Trotter on attempts, including the prenuptial climb.
Last year Trotter climbed the Shining, 5.13c, on Mt. Louis, with Tommy Caldwell. It is clear that he has shifted his strengths to the big unclimbed walls of the Rockies, while he resides in Canmore. With hundreds of unclimbed walls, he has plenty to choose from.
Trotter and Caldwell on the Shining on Louis