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10 Big Sends in Canadian Climbing 2018

Many big climbs went down in Canada in 2018, from first ascents to hard repeats from coast to coast to coast.

While wildfire smoke, extreme heat and rain slowed sending season in different parts of the country, including weeks-long storms in Baffin Island, many longtime projects were sent.

The following is a list of just a few of the many important ascents that took place in 2018.

Shadow Onsight

Emilie Pellerin onsighted The Shadow on The Chief in Squamish in August. She had an amazing year of sends, including Zombie Roof 5.12d on her second go and a flash of Flight of the Challenger 5.12c in Squamish. Out east, she climbed Fire in the Sky 5.13c mixed in the Adirondacks, 24 Hour Crack 5.13a trad in Acadia National Park and the burly Punky Brewster 5.13 mixed in Arapiles, Australia.

Peter Croft made the onsight first-free-ascent of The Shadow in 1988. At the time it was one of the most difficult trad pitches in Canada. “I guess I just got lucky enough that my worn out shoe with inner soles sticking out made it through,” said Pellerin. “It took me nearly an hour, my calves muscle were twitching and burning so bad!”

New Squamish V14

Nalle Hukkataival returned to Squamish this spring to put down a longtime project which is a low-start to an old Sean McColl problem. McColl made the first ascent of Room Service V12 on the Singularity Boulder in the Grand Wall Boulders back in 2011.

Hukkataival said on Instagram, “Last try, best try in Squamish! Swooped up a project I couldn’t seal the deal on my last trip: Room Service V14. What a finicky piece of rock. Ultimately took close to 10 times falling off at the very top trying to catch that unpredictable and unexplainable Squamish stickiness for longer than five seconds. Solid amount of climbing and trickery from the obvious start at the bottom into what had been opened by McColl starting high perched on a rock.”

Last try, best try in Squamish! Swooped up a project I couldn’t seal the deal on my last trip: Room Service (V14)! What a finicky piece of rock! Ultimately took close to ten times falling off at the very top trying to catch that unpredictable and unexplainable Squamish stickiness for longer than 5 seconds. Solid amount of climbing and trickery from the obvious start at the bottom into what had been opened by @mccollsean starting high perched on a rock. Adding a sit start still remains a project for next time. Was also happy to hike up solo to the top of the Chief and make the most of it with a little TR ascent of Tainted Love. Such an impressive route from @hazel_findlay! Definitely need to come back with more time and drag a belayer up there to get after it for real. Good times again, until next time Canada! 📷 @westmountainmedia #bouldering @blackdiamond @lasportivagram

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Vikki Weldon Sends 5.14

Vikki Weldon sent Spirit of the West 5.14a in Paradise Valley north of Squamish, a route established by Tom Wright. Weldon wrote on Instagram, “Three years of obsession, progress, failure, doubt and hope all came to a head today! The wind blew, the rock was sticky and the crew was all time. Still wrapping my head around it, but my heart is full and my face hurts from smiling.”

Weldon climbed her first 5.13 by the age of 15, has multiple sends to 5.14, has established new routes in Greenland and Morocco and made the second ascent of Blue Jeans 5.13 on Yamnuska.

Rockies Trilogy

The Rockies Trilogy was first completed in 2017 by Sonnie Trotter and includes the 15-pitch War Hammer 5.14 on Castle Mountain, the 12-pitch Shining 5.14a on Mount Louis and Blue Jeans Direct 5.14a on Yamnuska.

This summer, Mike Doyle and Sasha DiGiulian repeated the trilogy after a few projecting days on the wall. DiGiulian said after, “I opened myself up to failure, and I really didn’t know whether or not I’d manage to do it until I sent the crux of Blue Jeans Direct. I just kind of dove right in. It was personally a really satisfying experience, and an amazing summer to spend in one location—not traveling or doing anything else other than focusing on my project I set for myself, getting to know the community, and enjoying long days outside in a beautiful place!”

Babsi on The Path

Austrian Barbara “Babsi” Zangerl made the first female ascent of The Path 5.14R at Back of the Lake in the Canadian Rockies. A few days before Zangerl, her partner Jacopo Larcher climbed it, these are the first two sends of the steep trad route since 2016.

Her hardest route to date is Speed Integrale 5.14d, which she sent earlier this year. “Whenever I manage something that is at my personal limit, it’s an incredible feeling that encourages me to carry on and to explore new boundaries,” said Zangerl. A few weeks prior, Zangerl also sent The Shadow 5.13 in Squamish.

Adam Ondra in Rockies

Adam Ondra made the first ascent of Disbelief 5.15b at Acephale in the Canadian Rockies. It’s the second 5.15 in Canada, the other being Fight Club at Ravens Crag, first climbed by Alex Megos and not yet repeated. Ondra also made the first ascent of Sacrifice 5.15a in Echo Canyon.

Ondra also sent Honour and Glory 5.14d, First Flight 5.14c onsight, Existence Mundane 5.14b onsight, Ojas 5.14a onsight, Endless Summer 5.13b onsight, Whale Back 5.13c osight, Army Ants 5.13c flash, The Shine 5.14a, Leviathan 5.14a, Hairball Direct 5.13d first ascent and Beam me up Scotty 5.13c.

Joe Skopec Ontario 5.14

Joe Skopec made the first ascent of a years-long project on the Niagara Escarpment he called A Home Away from Home 5.14+. “I started crying when I clipped the anchors,” said Skopec. “Crying and cheering. Probably sounded like the weirdest combo.”

It’s the second hardest route in Ontario after Sonnie Trotter’s Forever Expired 5.14d. Skopec has moved to Ottawa where he’s developed a number of new 5.13 lines and potentially harder.

Annie Chouinard 5.14

Annie Chouinard sent Sha Sha 5.14a at Orford in Quebec this summer. “As I reached the last crux, I could hear the encouragements of my partner, but his words weren’t clear to me, like a distant echo,” said Chouinard.

“I clipped the anchor, closed my eyes for a few seconds, turned around and had a look at the scenery behind me. A scenery that is familiar to me, but that looked particularly unique at that moment. Then I came back to this world and smiled. It’s for moment like these that I work hard, fail more often than I succeed, but carry on. It’s moment like these that gives a meaning to my life. Ultimately, this is why I climb.”

I recently sent what I consider to be one of the best route at Orford, Sha Sha, 5.14a. The route is a direct line up the cliff and starts with a tricky and technical boulder problem to a rest, the only one on the route. You then engage several moves that test your resistance, leading up to the final section, a powerful boulder problem and long moves on bad slopers. I had the day off from work and had gotten up at 4:30am to do the 1h20 drive between Montreal and Orford to try to get the best possible conditions on the rock. For different reasons, I definitely wasn’t feeling at my best on that day, but as I got on the route on my first go of the day, my body and mind entered a state that doesn’t belong to this world. Every movement was fluid and precise; I didn’t feel a moment of hesitation. My mind was free of any thoughts: it was just me, the rock, the present moment. As I reached the last crux, I could hear the encouragements of my partner, but his words weren’t clear to me, like a distant echo. I clipped the anchor, closed my eyes for a few seconds, turned around and had a look at the scenery behind me. A scenery that is familiar to me, but that looked particularly unique at that moment. Then I came back to this world and smiled. It’s for moment like these that I work hard, fail more often than I succeed, but carry on. It’s moment like these that gives a meaning to my life. Ultimately, this is why I climb. This picture was taken by Philippe Lacroix as I was working the first part of the route at the end of May before the closure of the park this year. Now, time for Rumney to work other inspiring lines! @allezupmtl ; @metoliusclimbing ; @arcteryxmontreal; @fiveten_official

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Yves Gravelle New V14

Quebec climber Yves Gravelle sent a hard new problem at Kanata-Tremblant in Quebec and he’s suggesting V14 for the grade. On Instagram, he said, “Finishing off this project was a dream come true and felt unbelievable. I feel so motivated to climb, explore and open more gems like this one. I called this problem Thessalhydra and proposing V14 for the grade!”

At Kanata-Tremblant, Gravelle later made the first ascent of Miall’s Ahead, the sit start to Green Dolphin Street. “I named this line after Jody Miall, my early mentor, friend and definitely one of the climbers that made the biggest impact in my climbing career,” said Gravelle. “This one if for you buddy.”

First Maritime WI6

On March 24, Max Fisher, Luc Gallant and Michel Martin made the first ascent of the first-ever WI6 in the Maritimes and called it The Monster. It rises above the Atlantic Ocean at Raven Head Wilderness Area.

“We had a week of cold temps and were just hoping something would be climbable. We were amazed to find that The Monster was in,” said Fisher. “In fact it wasn’t only formed, but it was in amazing conditions.