Squamish-based Marc-Andre Leclerc has set a new standard for Canadian winter mixed climbing.On Feb. 26, Leclerc reached the base of the Stanley Headwall, B.C.’s well-known alpine mixed “crag,” moments before sunrise. He waited patiently for prime conditions before soloing the 150-metre French Reality M5 WI6+. The crux was a transition onto a horizontal ice blob, Leclerc reports it was the hardest ice he has ever soloed.
After rappelling, he skied over to Nightmare on Wolfstreet, an M7+ WI6+ 150-metre route. He then headed up the M7+ technical corner, making tedious moves on small holds, before pulling onto the steep ice. He continued up to a large ledge at the base of the difficult pitch three.
He stopped to wait out the warmest part of the day, as he was caught in an avalanche only a few days before while climbing French Reality with the cutting-edge Chamonix mountain guide Jeff Mercier.
Somewhere under this merciless snow flow, @jeffmercier74 and @mdre92 are holding to their axes while sending the third pitch of “French Reality” on Stanley Headwall. I was kind of nervous while trying to spot them in my telephoto lens after the flow was gone. They were fine, thanks to the steepness of the wall. #rab #petzlgram #alpineclubcan #avalanche
For two hours, Leclerc listened to music and waved his arms to stay warm on the ledge. When the time was right, he climbed the final 120 metres of The Day After les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, which crosses Nightmare, at a grade of M5 WI6.
Leclerc likened soloing the first pitch of Nightmare to soloing Crime of the Century 5.11c in Squamish.
After his successful first-known solo of the “Nightmare Vacation,” Leclerc skied down and over to Nemesis. As no climbers have been to Nemesis for some time, Leclerc skinned a trail in deep snow to the base of the classic 150-metre WI6. “Skiing up the Nemesis was the hardest part of the day,” said Leclerc who was listening to “Organic Anti-Beatbox Band” by Red Hot Chili Peppers for the approach.
A photo posted by Jeffmercier (@jeffmercier74) on
After soloing Nemesis, which he had never climbed, he rappelled and passed two skiers heading up his track. He returned to Canmore 12 hours after leaving.
Leclerc said that Guy Lacelle’s triple solo of Terminator, Replicant and Sea of Vapors on the Trophy Wall above Banff inspired him as a young climber. It’s fair to say that Leclerc’s cutting-edge triple solo on the Stanley Wall will inspire future generations of ice, alpine and mixed climbers.
Lelcerc’s solos of French Reality and “Nightmare Vacation” are likely the first rope-less ascents of both, although previous solos might soon surface. (Update: Mike Verwey and Will Mayo soloed French Reality in 2006. “For the record,” wrote Mayo “I soloed French Reality in February 2006. I think Marc-Andre’s is the second. Guy told me he never did it, though went up intending to several times. Bravo Mr. Leclerc!”)
Today was certainly one of my best days on ice tools. In the early morning I skied up to the Stanley Headwall, unsure of whether or not my objective would be reasonable. But the moment I began to climb I tapped into that magical feeling of absolute precision and total confidence. By early afternoon I had soloed three amazing routes; French Reality, a combination of the lower section of Nightmare on Wolf Street and the upper pitches of The Day After La Vacance… (Nightmare Vacation?) As well as the classic Nemesis. Back in Canmore reflecting on a day of sublime climbing. #arcteryx #mtwaddingtons #raenergy