On June 27, Marc-Andre Leclerc free-soloed two big routes in the Canadian Rockies up steep limestone walls.
Climbing the two walls, EEOR and Ha Ling, in a day has long been local climbers’ objective with dozens of recorded team ascents in the past.
Much like American free-soloist Alex Honnold, Leclerc is doing what climbers have done for centuries, pushing a fringe part of the sport of climbing.
What makes Leclerc’s ascents so unique is that he’s doing them on almost a daily basis and pushing standards in the Canadian Rockies.
Canada has never had someone climbing at such a level.
He’s doing things at such a fast pace, that even climbers comfortable with Honnold’s bold style have grown uneasy with Leclerc’s.
Like most great free soloists, it’s recommended by many top climbers that others do not attempt to follow in his chalk marks.
In the past, climbers have have posted times for linking Ha Ling and EEOR in a day in about eight hours as a team. Leclerc climbed the two in three hours and 25 minutes car-to-car.
Timed solo ascents are nothing new in the Rockies, nearly two decades ago Will Gadd posted the first sub-24-hour up-and-down climb of Mount Robson.
The routes Leclerc climbed were EEOR’s Tail, a steep and loose 360-metre 5.10, and Cheesmond Express, a 600-metre 5.10 with very loose sections.
Leclerc dubbed the link-up of the two walls, “the Canmore half-pipe” because of their position above the pass. Like always, when a time is posted, it’s not a call-out to see who can beat it, rather a note about a historical ascent.
Free-soloing in the Rockies has always been a touchy topic, due to the loose rock and because a number of climbers have died during free-solo attempts.
Nevertheless, rope-less ascents go back decades, including noteworthy ones on Yamnuska’s Kahl Wall 5.10, CMC Wall 5.11, Red Shirt 5.8 and Grillmair Chimney 5.7 and even on Ha Ling’s Sisyphus Summits.
Here at Gripped, we cannot determine what highball boulder sends, hard run-out trad sends, big alpine solos, big sport whippers or steep big-wall free solos will motivate or turn-off readers, we can only report on the climbs being done because they all add to the history of Canadian climbing.
Watch an interview below with legendary free-soloist John Bachar, who later died from a free solo fall in California.
– This is an updated story to reflect the thoughts of readers about how free-soloing should be reported.