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10 Climbing Things to Watch for in 2018

As we head into 2018, we can look forward to many more firsts, sends and historic climbs.

It will be hard to match 2017, what with the first 5.15d, first El Cap free-solo, first female 5.15a and 5.15b and so much more, but there are big things that could go down this year.

MY HEART IS FULL 💓 I am grateful to Jean-Christophe Lafaille for envisioning this graceful line, Biographie, in 1989. In 1996, Arnaud Petit completed the pitch to the first anchor, and five years later, in 2001, @chris_sharma became the first person to complete the line to the highest anchor, simultaneously sending the first ever 9a+. Thank you for giving Biographie / Realization to our community! In life, we are tested. Biographie tested my commitment, my fortitude, and my belief in myself. In May, I touched Biographie for the first time. Ever since, the route has been ingrained in my mind and body. In one week, I will leave France, the country that I have lived in and learned from for the past year. Just yesterday, I realized this dream. The difficulties of this endeavor were overshadowed by the sound of the birds, laughter of friends, and the changing of the seasons. To experience the delicate power that Biographie holds is a true privilege. I am so grateful for the support that I have received from the climbing community throughout this process, especially from @arnaudpetit_climb , my mentor on this journey. Thank you, @alexandermegos for the send belay and @jan_novak_photography for this image. @thenorthface @petzl_official @lasportivana @frictionlabs @dogearedjewelry

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Below are five international and five Canadian climbing things to watch for in 2018.

Five International Things

Competitions: The Youth Olympics will be taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with climbing being a big event. Be sure to watch for livestreams in October.


The 2020 Tokyo Olympic will debut climbing as a competitive sport. The process to determine what 40 climbers will head to the Olympics will start this year.

As Sean McColl said: “I can confirm it will be 20 women and 20 men eligible for Tokyo 2020; I believe the selection process will be done starting in 2018 at our World Championships with selections also possible at some other events in 2018 and 2019.

“Personally, I believe World Championships, Continental Championships and Overall World Cup Champions should be eligible.”

Trad Climbing: There are so many things to still happen in the world of trad climbing. There is yet to be a 5.14d all-gear-protected line.

The only 5.14c trad line is Meltdown in Yosemite, a Beth Rodden climb, which has yet to be repeated. There are dozens of 5.13+ and 5.14 crack lines with only one ascent.

Any repeat of the following is considered a big send still: Power Ranger 5.14R in Chattanooga, Recovery Drink 5.14b/c in Norway, Magic Line 5.14b in Yosemite, Meltdown 5.14b/c in Yosemite (unrepeated) or Century Crack 5.14 in Utah.

Norway & Jøssingfjord is definitely on the Tom and Pete crack mish this year. It’s about time we get our act together and go repeating / new routing back here again – I really hope it’s not as cold as last time though!! Recovery Drink, Flying Viking, Firefox, new routes… so much to do. I hope you’re keen as well @loubabbaloubasj ?! 💪🏻👊 Photo credit: @bqueenborough of @erik_massih mega 5.13+ route which I constantly spell wrong😁 Ronny Medelsvesson??? #climbing #rockclimbing #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbing_lovers #climbing_is_my_life #klettern #arrampicata #escalada #escalade #tradclimbing #crackclimbing #wearerab #pureclimbing #rockclimbing #climbing_worldwide #norway #jøssingfjord

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Sport Climbing: While there are countless projects around the world, there are a few things to watch out for in 2018.

The twin line next to Adam Ondra’s Silence 5.15d in Norway is said by Ondra to be as hard, if not harder, than Silence. Will we see the first 5.16?

There are reports of new crags and multi-pitch sport routes going up throughout the Middle East. In the USA, a number of big climbs like Tommy Caldwell’s Flex Luther 5.15a at the Fortress of Solitude, are awaiting second ascents.

Women dominated the headlines in 2017 with climbers like Margo Hayes and Angy Eiter climbing 5.15s. We can expect to see more historical climbs this year with so much talent pushing the grades.

Sport climbing is the number one form of outdoor climbing in many countries. There a good chance we’ll see more 5.15s climbed, more crags developed and more controversies over access.

Bouldering: The first problem to be graded V15 was Dreamtime in 2000, but that was downgraded. In 2002, five V15s were climbed and are still V15 today.

It’s been about 15 years since V15 was first climbed and the sport has been pushed on many levels. While there are only a few V16 climbs, and only one or two are confirmed, there will likely be more opened in 2018.

Japan has the most number of hard boulder problems in the world, followed by America and Switzerland. There are only a few climbers pushing the V15 grade, so predicting how the upper end of the sport will shift this year, considering 2017 saw the fewest hard sends in the past five years, is tricky.

In 2017, a number of women pushed through to V14 and repeated a number of V13s, and Ashima Shiraishi became the first woman to climb a V15. Will 2018 be the year we see a first female V16?

The top boulderers in the year right now based on number of hard climbs are: Daniel Woods, Dai Koyamada, Nalle Hukkataival and Jimmy Webb.

So here's a sick shot of the 2nd bounty that got climbed two days ago. This one revolves basically around one freak low percentage move. A massive throw to a blind crimp in a mail slot. I hucked myself countless times at this rig that night not knowing if I was ever gonna stick it. Thankfully though the wind picked up and with just a bit of luck I connected with the edge perfectly and found myself on top of 'Gimme the loot' V12 .. Maybe one day we'll have to go back and try the sit start! 💪🏽 Big ups to @earthtreks and @hippytree for joining together and sponsoring this rad project!! 📸 again by @kevintakashismith #earthtrekscolumbia #earthtreksrockville #earthtrekstimonium #hippytreetribe #hippytree @nrac.official @hippytree @fiveten_official @organicclimbing @metoliusclimbing

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Alpine/Big Walls: Yosemite has been the centre of big wall free-climbing over the past few years and we expect that to continue.

There are trips heading to Baffin Island, Greenland, Tsaranoro Massif, Trango Tower, Naranjo de Bulnes, the Alps, Torre del Paines, Patagonia, Antarctica, Trollveggen in Norway, Cerro Autana in Venezuala and to many other locations. There will be a few big, hard and committing routes established this year.

In the alpine climbing scene, there are trips planned to Kondus Valley in Pakistan for previously off-limit 7,000-metre peaks, to Alaska for new and difficult mountain ridges and to Kishtwar in India, to Karakoram in Pakistan and to Garhwal Himalaya in India, so far.

Five Canadian Things

Competitions: Triple National champion Alannah Yip will be someone looking to clinch a spot on the Olympic team. Follow to see what her strategy is when it comes to training and comp selection.

Ontario’s Indiana Chapman rose to the occasion at the Youth World Championships with a showings in Finals and Semis.

Brothers Kindar and Guy McNamee have proved that they’re are serious contenders who will be pushing for more podiums in 2018.

Internationally, watch for Sean McColl to compete at more comps than last year. Elan Jonas McRae competed at a number of IFSC events in 2017 and is expected to this season.

There are dozens of local comps and many Provincial and National level events to follow.

Trad Climbing: We saw three ascents of Cobra Crack in 2017, none by Canadians. There are a few young crushers who are moving up the grades in trad climbing, but so far only a few working on 5.13/14 gear lines.

In Quebec, a number of climbers, including Sonnie Trotter, have mentioned attempting Le Zebree 5.14 (which still only has one ascent).

In Alberta, top sender Sam Tucker was projecting on The Path 5.14R at Lake Louise. He would become one of only a few Canadians to climb 5.14R on gear if he can piece it together.

In Ontario, the Thunder Bay and Algoma area have many untapped and potentially difficult trad climb. At Claghorn, Nick Rochacewich’s 5.14? face/crack climb hasn’t had a free ascent. Leslie Timms often has a project up her sleeve she’ll dispatch after some warm-weather sessions.

Stu Smith of Squamish established a number of 5.13 gear climbs in 2017 and has more projects on the go.

Sport Climbing: Evan Hau claimed Canada’s second 5.15a last year with his Honour and Glory in Echo Canyon. Whether a visiting climber who’s a confirmed 5.15 climber attempt the line is up in the air.

Sonnie Trotter’s big three have had a number of attempts of the past two years. The three alpine sport climbs are Castles in the Sky 5.14, The Shining 5.14 and Blue Jeans Direct 5.14.

In Ontario, the Eyeball crag and surrounding cliffs have potential for short and long bolted routes. The new four-pitch Courage Highway in Northern Ontario will surely draw crowds.

There are countless projects and new crags from coast to coast that will reveal classic climbing this year.

Mount Nemo near Toronto has a new crag called The Turtle with a handful of climbs to 5.10. Nemo South has been opened and new routing has begun.

The East Coast has had a rise in route development over the past few seasons with a number of new 5.13s and a 5.14. Locals say the route development will continue.

Just a few of the many Canadian sport climbers to watch in 2018: Dan Beland, Julia Bobak, Amanda Berezowski, Becca and Sara Frangos, Lucas Uchida, Ben Smith, Kim McGrenere, Joe Skopec, Marcel Aarden, Yannick Neufeld-Cumming and Indiana Chapman.

One of the highs of 2017 was sending my first 5.14 and one of the lows was totally mangling my forearm in the process. Here's a photo of both of those things in progress. • It has been hard climbing minimally for the past few months, but not as hard as I worried. I got offered a dream job, discovered I really love trail running, and managed to gain a little perspective on the important stuff in life. So maybe 2018 will bring new and different adventures. • On the other hand, my tendon is on the mend, my new job has summers off, and we just bought a Sprinter so maybe 2018 will be a lot more of the same old obsession. I'm optimistic either way. 😊🎉 • #climbing #rockclimbing #womenonlead #climblikeagirl #flashfoxy #explorebc #vancouverisland #optoutside #grippedmagazine #endofyearthoughts 📷@marcel.aarden

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Bouldering: Canada is home to some world-class boulders. But across most of the country, the short season prevents Canadians from entering the V14 and V15 realm.

While some Canadians have pushed the grades, few have been consistent, due to weather and conditions.

The hardest boulder problems in Canada go at V14 and include Squamish’s Singularity V14, North Ridge V14, Zazen V14, The Reckoning V14 and Nova Scotia’s unconfirmed Full Clip V14.

Nalle Hukkataival repeated Singularity V14 in Squamish last fall for the first repeat since the first ascent in 2007.

Will this be the year Canada gets a confirmed V15? Ontario gets a V14 or a big new boulderfield is opened?

Alpine/Ice/Big Walls: Not a year goes by in Canada without some attention grabbing ascent up high. Over the past few years, if it hasn’t been Marc-Andre Leclerc soloing something wild, then it’s Tony McLane. We expect to see more bold alpine and big wall climbs from Canada’s soloists.

In the Bugaboos, the east face of Snowpatch has some 5.12 multi-pitch projects nearly complete. On Baffin Island, a few teams will be heading to open new routes, including Calgary’s Michelle Kadatz and New Zealander Gemma Wilson.

In the Rockies, keep an eye on a few climbers gunning for the first ascent of the Great Wall of China proper on Mount Stephen.

In Squamish and around Powell River, a new generation of aid climbers are opening big lines and we are looking forward to hearing about the potential being unlocked.

Watch for strong Canadian alpinists like Quentin Lindfield Roberts and Alik Berg to climb more big new routes this year.

Every winter, there are more and more ice climbs that are discovered near and far from the road. With more ice climbers than ever, we expect to see some big repeats of remote routes when conditions are right.

2018 is going to be a big year of climbing in Canada and around the globe. We look forward to sharing the many stories with you.

If you have any stories you’d like to share, send an email to the editor at brandon@gripped.com.