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Scar Tissue is Steep New Rockies Multi-Pitch M7+

It's named in honour of Marc-Andre Leclerc

Scar Tissue is a new 150-metre M7+ WI6 on Storm Creek Headwall in the Canadian Rockies between Banff and Radium Hot Springs. The wild route was first climbed by Niall Hamill and Jon Walsh on March 24 on honour of Marc-Andre Leclerc, who passed away in Alaska earlier this month.

This is the second route in the past week to be climbed in honour of Leclerc. The other being Wish You Were Here M5R WI4 130m on Kings Peak on Vancouver Island by Steve Janes and James Rode.

Walsh posted the story of Scar Tissue on the Facebook page for Canadian Rockies Ice Climbing.

“Earlier this winter, I met Niall at an X-mas party and he offered to join me on a project. Seeing John Price’s photos of Will Gadd climbing an ice roof at the Temple of Silence earlier this year was serious inspiration for overhanging ice-climbing and a new ice flow on one of my favourite walls at Storm Creek provided a perfect location to seek it.

“I did want to try this unclimbed line this anyways, but it was nice to get a little boost of inspiration for what I knew would require a fair bit of sketchy aid-climbing/ blue-collar hard work, all for an unknown result.

“In mid-January we had a go at it, but ran out of bolts and battery power before reaching the ice. It wasn’t until March 21 that we finally got back to finishing the bolting job, but by the time that was done, as well as the best way to tackle the overhanging ice was sorted, there wasn’t enough time for the redpoint.

“Yesterday, I was stoked to get back there again and send the pitch, and finish the route to the top. The vertical field of ice mushrooms with 100-plus metres of air below was well worth the efforts to get there, and felt similar to Nightmare on Wolf Street, one of the most coveted multi-pitch mixed routes in the Rockies. Big thanks to Niall for joining me on this one, and to Tim Banfield for coming along to take some shots.

“We named the route after what seemed to be Marc-Andre’s favourite book, which is Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography. He’d love to recite passages of that book to me as we drove to go climbing, and is one of my many fond memories of Marc.

“It was on this wall that we put up The Plum together in 2014, Marc’s first climb in the Rockies.

“His first lead was a blockbuster that I’ll never forget. Since his passing a couple weeks ago, it’s been hard to muster up the energy or psyche or desire to go winter climbing, do anything risky or do anything at all, but getting back to the mountains has definitely helped the healing process.

“His spirit is definitely present at the Storm Headwall. Besides being a great friend and climbing partner, Marc was one of the most creative and inspiring people I’ve ever known, and his loss has certainly left some scar tissue.”

Marc-Andre Leclerc on the first ascent of The Plum Photo Jon Walsh

The first pitch is a 45-metre WI3, the second is a 30-metre WI5, the third is a 55-metre M7+ WI6 and the fourth is a 25-metre WI5. Walsh said to bring 18 to 20 quickdraws, eight to 10 screws and a 60-metre rope.

“Also, we dropped a bolt yesterday that was supposed to complete an anchor. So, the ‘two-bolt’ anchor at the start of the crux pitch is actually just one bolt. But a second hole is drilled, (about 12” higher) and an extra rap hanger and a wrench is clipped to the existing bolt, so just bring one 3/8” x 3” bolt to complete this anchor.”

About the descent, Walsh said, “Currently, there are fixed v-threads at the top of pitch-three and pitch-four and the deep snowpack makes skiing in there easier than ever.

“Approach time is two hours from the parking lot to the base, and about one-hour to get out. If temperatures stay reasonably cold, this route should hang in there for a couple more weeks.

Jon Walsh on Scar Tissue Photo Tim Banfield