Joe Skopec has been projecting a route on Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment for over two years. He sent it on Nov. 7 and cried at the top.

“I started crying when I clipped the anchors,” said Skopec. “Crying and cheering. Probably sounded like the weirdest combo.”

Skopec called it A Home Away From Home and graded it 5.14+, noting that it’s the hardest Ontario route after Sonnie Trotter’s Forever Expired 5.14d.

“I’ve never tried anything more then a month,” said Skopec who climbed every route in the first volume of Ontario Climbing, which covers the southern crags along the Niagara Escarpment. After one of his recent attempts, he said, “I won’t be missing this skin eating Mono after I send this climb.”

Last week, Skopec was trying for the send and said after a long day, “Another perfect day at the crag! But I was doing a lot of this… This fall is huge and it hurts coming flying into the wall. Not sure how much more my body can take, but I won’t be giving up before I move to Ottawa on Nov. 29.”

Skopec has sent most of Ontario’s hardest routes, including Titan 5.14a and his Bromance 5.14b and Deja Vu 5.14b.

“I would spend two hours trying to figure out beta and every time I would unlock the crux, a hold would break,” said Skopec about Bromance in 2014 . “This happened at least three or four times before all the choss was gone – it was pretty frustrating.

“On my next attempt, I kissed the Rosary and sent the project. I still have a hard time believing in this lucky charm, but I must say this Rosary is two-for-two.”

This summer, Skopec also ticked Dinosaur Highway 5.14a at Horne Lake and Man in Me at Lion’s Head. More to come on Skopec’s history-making send. Congrats, Joe!

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