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Ontario’s New Big Thunder Wall Has A Multi-Pitch 5.12

The Big Thunder Wall is a 75-metre basalt cliff in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and has yielded a number of difficult long routes.

In the early 2000s, Jeff Hammerich and Dave Benton climbed a dozen new routes at an area known as Lost Falls. A number of sport routes and other long cracks, up to 60 metres, were climbed there over the years.

In 2006, Jarron Childs and Alex Joseph climbed a new route that was a few minutes walk east along the Lost Falls cliff band. They named their new 75-metre four-pitch 5.8 Paralyzed by Choice and they dubbed the crag the Big Thunder Wall.

It wasn’t until 2014 that Dr. Patrick Martel visited the Big Thunder Wall in search of new routes. He found a large cliff with a number of overhangs and horizontal roofs.

Trepidation and Vertige.  Photo Patrick Martel
Trepidation and Vertige. Photo Patrick Martel

With Socrate Badeau, Martel climbed Trepidation, a two-pitch 55-metre 5.11c on bolts and gear. They also climbed Vertige, a two-pitch 5.12 with a mixed first pitch and gear-protected second pitch.

In the summer of 2015, Martel returned to the wall to complete a 2014 project. The new three-pitch route is called Vertical Delight and goes at 5.11+.

The first 30-metre 5.10+ pitch was climbed in the fall of 2014 by Martel and Stephanie Marler.

The second 22-metre mixed pitch was climbed by Martel and Aric Fishman in June of this year. The final 15-metre 5.8 gear-protected pitch was climbed shortly after by Martel and Marler.

Vertical Delight is the yellow line. Photo Patrick Martel
Vertical Delight is the yellow line. Photo Patrick Martel

Another three-pitch 5.11 was completed in the summer of 2015 by Martel and Shorthouse and is called Breakfast Special. The first pitch was solo-aided by Brad Hughson in 2013 and was freed on toprope Hughson and Duncan Hutchison shortly after. The second pitch was solo-aided by Hughson in 2014 and was partially toprope freed shortly after.

An alternative start called Non Sequitur was later added that climbed to the second anchor in one long pitch. That pitch was almost freed by Hughson, Hutchison and Kyle Brooks in 2014 on toprope. The pitch went at 5.10 and was finally climbed on lead by Martel and Shorthouse in 2015.

Martel and Shorthouse have added a sport route that leads to the first-pitch anchors of Breakfast Special called Carpe Diam 5.10d. 

Breakfast Special, Carpe Diem and Non Sequitur. Photo Patrick Martel
Breakfast Special, Carpe Diem and Non Sequitur. Photo Patrick Martel

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