As one of Canada’s best rock climbers, Sonnie Trotter’s name is usually associated with cutting edge first ascents like the unrepeated Forever Expired 5.14d and Cobra Crack 5.14 but with the addition of his new moderate route on the Chief, that’s all about to change. After 70 hours of hard work, Trotter unveiled his new route The Squamish Butt (North Face Variation) 5.9, a climb that will likely become the most popular line on The Chief. Trotter originally climbed the route about two months ago with his girlfriend Lydia Zamorano but the overgrown nature of the line ensured it would not see many repeats. Realizing this, Trotter returned with climber photographer Ben Moon and spent five days cleaning the route. The result is a three-pitch variation finish to the Squamish Buttress which avoids the original steep 5.10c pitch.
Describing the route Trotter said, “There’s one move of 5.9, protected by a bolt and a body length of 5.8. The rest of it is 5.6 and 5.7. So, now a 5.8/5.9 climber can literally free climb and lead to the top of the Chief. ” Trotter continues, “We are hoping it will divert some traffic because things tend to get backed up on the 5.10c pitch. This variation gives people options. It’s actually really fun climbing, and pretty exposed.” Trotter says, “It’s sort of cool that it took 30 years for the easiest free climb to the summit to be established.”
In Europe there is an established movement of strong, talented climbers putting up moderate routes for the rest of climbing community. Trotter’s new line seems to embrace similar ideals and will hopefully be a model for more development.