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Ethan Salvo Sends Zazen V15 in Squamish

He's very likely the first person to top the problem since a hold broke after its first ascent 20 years ago

Yesterday, Canadian Ethan Salvo, 20, sent another one of Squamish’s hardest problems—Zazen, a low start to the famous Gibbs’ Cave V8. The problem was first sent by Harry Robertson in 2003 and graded V13. Shortly after Robertson’s FA, a key hold broke and the line has very likely not seen a second ascent. Salvo’s send is almost certainly the post-breakage first ascent of Zazen. He’s proposed a grade of V15 for the problem, which features one of the hardest moves in Squamish.

Via Instagram, Salvo had this to say about the climb and grade: “It breaks down to a 3 move V11/12 on crimps into the hardest single move I’ve done. The crux move is off a small left hand mini pinch, and you do a huge jump to the start rail of Gibbs, then you climb the V8.

“I knew that linking the move would be hard from the bottom, but on the send go that move still felt damn hard (a feeling I normally don’t find when sending boulders in Squamish). I’m a bit hesitant to propose V15 as I haven’t tried many in the world, but this boulder is as my style as it gets so if I was to climb V15 it makes sense it would be in this style.”

Zazen V15 joins a very small group of boulders in Canada graded V15 and above. Yves Gravelle has put up V15 first ascents in Quebec including Low Miall’s and So What, and Gabe Lawson recently made the first ascent of The Megg, Canada’s first proposed V16. With Salvo’s send and grade, Zazen is Squamish’s first official V15, although there is growing number of hard climbers who believe The Singularity deserves an upgrade from V14 to V15.

Salvo on Zazen V15. Photo by Gabe Lawson.

Originally from Ontario, Salvo now lives in Squamish. He has only been climbing for a little over five years. In less than three years after he started, he had sent V13 and repeated many of Ontario’s hardest test pieces. He has also put up numerous first ascents, primarily at the Niagara Glen. In 2020, he made FA’s of Rite of Passage Low V13 and The Wheel of Bonfire V13. In 2021, he made the first ascent of the beautiful Vilified V13.

Last month Salvo made the third ascent of Offenders of the Faith V13 in Squamish—the long-term low-start open project to Defender of the Faith V9. He also had some huge sends in 2022. In a period of a little over a week in September, he sent two of Squamish’s hardest lines, Deadlift V14 and The Reckoning V14.