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New 5.12+ at Val-David is L’Offusqué des Temps Modernes

Plus some history of one of Canada's most iconic climbing areas

Val-David is one of Canada’s most historical and popular crags, with dozens of classic trad and sport routes at all grades. A new 5.12+ has been added to the right side of La Bleue wall.

It starts off a ledge and follows bolts up and left into an old aid route. After several tricky moves, the crux comes at the end. Yann Gauthier, who established the line, notes that having a big reach will help. Watch Gauthier send L’Offusqué des Temps Modernes below.

Some Val-David History: One of the earliest routes done at Val-David was by Swiss climber John Brett, an engineer living in Montreal in the late 1920s. An avid skier, he visited the trails around Val-David in 1928 and found the walls had a lot of climbing potential. In 1932, he climbed the first recorded rock climb in Quebec and called it La Valse. Throughout the 1930s, he continued to climb new rock routes, including Fatman’s Misery and Valse Normale, both in Val-David.

In the late 1940s, German American climber Fritz Wiessner heard about the potential at Val-David and visited John Brett in 1949. By then, Wiessner had attempted K2 and opened some of the hardest free routes in the U.S.A., mostly in the Gunks. In 1949, Wiessner set a new standard at Val-David when he made the first ascent of L’Imperiale, 5.9, on Mont King. In the early 1960s, Dick Willmott climbed a direct variation at 5.10a. Top climber at the time, Alan Rubin, later said, “I can confirm that Wiessner’s route L’Imperiale s a very hard and serious route. Back in the mid-1970s, Al Long and I seemed to be climbing pretty well during a visit to the Val-David climbing areas but were stopped cold by L’Imperiale, couldn’t even see what to do, though had little trouble with the supposedly harder ‘direct’ put up by Turner or one of his compatriots a decade or so later. Though Canadian John Brett was apparantly the first to climb on the Val David crags, it was Wiessner’s subsequent visits that really began the development of the area and of rock climbing in general in Quebec.”

Le Toit de Ben at Val-David is one of Canada’s most famous roof cracks. It was first climbed by aid in 1958 by Bernard Poisson and Erwin Hogson. They used wood pegs, a homemade chest harness and a hemp rope. The first free ascent of the 10-metre horizontal crack was in 1987 by Quebec climber Francois Roy. It became the first 5.13 in the province. It’s been repeated by many top climbers, including Sonnie Trotter and Mason Earle. In 2010, Canadian Nathalie Malo ticked the first female ascent of the burly climb.

L’Offusqué des Temps Modernes 5.12+