Home > News

Team Canada’s Brennan Doyle Establishes New V13

Brennan Doyle describes his experience with climbing, before the pandemic through to his recent first ascent: Shadow Realm

This summer has been a whirlwind of challenging first ascents, unpredictable access and ludicrously strong youth climbers. Though Squamish is classically considered B.C.’s best bouldering, a number of newer crags are receiving attention from Canada’s strongest.

17-year-old Brennan Doyle is a competition climber from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Typically known for his strong performances at competitions, Doyle stepped outside this summer to test his limits on B.C.’s most gnarly boulder problems.

View this post on Instagram

Room Service //⠀ Nice lil line

A post shared by Brennan Doyle (@brennan__doyle) on

With problems like Room Service and A-Block going down it but a number of attempts, it is perhaps unsurprising that the young gun from the island has been pushing the limits of his home crag.

How did he get so strong?

Doyle said, “I started climbing when I was seven or eight. My dad is a principle at a high school and he would take kids climbing in a gym in Monimo, and I would come along with him and climb.”

Years later, he would go on to join his local youth team and ultimately find himself as the youngest Canadian competing for the Olympics at the Pan-American Championships. He said, “It was a really fun experience. I am actually quite happy with my performance, especially in lead and speed. I think I actually performed better in those than in bouldering just because I didn’t have any expectations. I hadn’t trained speed or lead that much.”

When asked about his favourite discipline, Doyle laughed, “Bouldering, but only because it is easiest to train haha.” Even still, by the end of the Championships, he was tired. “I think I was a little burnt out of bouldering competitions by that point,” though Doyle maintains that PanAms, “was a really, really cool experience.”

Before long, the pandemic would change every young competitor’s prospective 2020 season. Doyle said, “I remember that the first week the pandemic hit was my first week of spring break and I climbed outside like five days that week. That was sort of before lockdown, so I climbed outside a ton before I had to stop for like two months.”

Doyle would go on to take a small break from climbing, recruit psyche for whenever the boulders might reopen. When restrictions began to lift, Doyle looked to one place in particular. He said, “Duncan Boulders is definitely my favourite spot. It’s a super long hike, but it is a bunch of really nice sandstone boulders, and also a bunch of little caves up the west coast of the island. It’s this super cool ocean-washed rock, there’s no texture. It’s super smooth and really fun to climb on because it is super precise, you have to trust everything even though it feels like you are going to slip off.”

This technical style of climbing would play host to what would become Doyle’s hardest ascent to date: Shadow Realm. Doyle said, “First time I tried it was last November so it’s been quite a few days. You start on two crimps, right beside each other. Honestly, it’s kind of weird. It looks like somebody placed these crimps there. You have a left heel and a weird right foot, you just place you toe but it doesn’t really do anything, and then you reach, back in the roof to a crimp right beside the crack.

“Then you do a bunch of foot moves. I think that was the hardest part for me. You then get your foot all the way up by the lip of the cave and you do a weird drop in move into the crack and adjust your feet through more hard foot moves. Then it’s a right-hand bump off a crimp into a crack and then match in the crack and do a big move out to the hueco.”

“Just the bottom part, to me, feels a tiny bit harder than A-block in Squamish. Just the bottom part feels like the hardest thing I have done. Then you add the top.” The top is called Hueco Shade, a V10 first established by Tyler Thompson some time before. The low start Doyle ended up completing was an open project from Tim Doyle, the establisher of many of Canada’s hardest boulder problems.

Reflecting on the challenge, Doyle said, “I think If I had to give it a grade I would call it V13, but I don’t really like grades because it is so different for everyone. I just look at them as a way to know that I am progressing and try to challenge myself.”

Looking forward, Doyle said, “I want to do competitions when they start. I think for now, probably until the end of October, I will focus on outdoors and then maybe there will be info on competitions going forward.”

Throughout this month, Doyle has some goals. “I’m working on the Reckoning. I am probably going to wait a month or two before I go back to Squamish when it is nice and cold. Hopefully I will do it. I think there is potential for more hard stuff in Duncan, nothing that I know of, but I will hopefully go up someday soon and try to find something new.”

In terms of development, Doyle notes, “Further up the island there is Sutton Pass and Constitution Hill, I think, and I think they are both granite, and they’re like very large areas, but they’re not super developed yet. I think there is tons and tons of potential it’s just in the middle of nowhere and there aren’t a lot of climbers there.”

As Doyle begins to zero in on his projects for the winter, the Canadian climbing community awaits what is sure to be an action-packed year for Canada’s youngest and strongest climbers.