It was a memorable year for big wall climbing with some big sends going down in Yosemite, on Baffin Island, in the Alps and in Patagonia. The following are some of our favourite big wall climbs of 2016 that took place outside of Canada.
Baffin Island: Brette Harrington, Marc-Andre Leclerc and Joshua Lavigne climbed a big new route called The West Buttress 1,100-metre 5.12a C1 of Great Sail this summer. Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva, Matteo De Zaiacomo, Matteo Della Bordella and Luca Schiera also climbed a number of new routes up to 5.12d and 1,000 metres on and around Great Sail.
Six weeks of load carrying, paddling rafts with headwinds, trekking over frozen lakes and climbing granite big walls, being back on the grid comes with quite a change in pace. @mdre92 @joshu_wow and I climbed through the good and the bad, waited out a weeks cyclone in the G7 porta ledges and climbed on the beautiful granite walls of Baffin Island. A full write up is soon to come. We've had an amazing experience in this arctic land. Thank you for all the support from @arcteryx @evolvusa @goalzero @senderfilms @mec
Thalay Sagar: Sergey Nilov, Dmitry Grigoriev and Dmitry Golovchenko climbed a new route up the north face of the 6,904-metre Thalay Sagar in India called Moveable Feast WI5 M7 A3 F5c 1,400m ED2. Read more about the route here.
Riders on the Storm: Mayan Smith-Gobat, Ines Papert and photographer Thomas Senf repeated the 38-pitch Riders on the Storm on Torre Central in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. They freed a number of pitches previously aided and their new variation goes at 5.13a A2. Read more about their climb here.
Dawn Wall: Adam Ondra made the second free ascent of Dawn Wall 5.14d on El Cap in Yosemite. He became the first climber to lead and send all 31 pitches in one push. It was his first visit to Yosemite. His friend Pavel Blazek supported and belayed Ondra.
Dear @Adam.Ondra,⠀ ⠀ Thank you for showing us what’s possible once again. Through your hard work and determination, we’ve been able to witness another groundbreaking milestone in the world of climbing. We want to congratulate you for challenging yourself with climbing the world’s hardest big-wall, roping up in the face of doubt and succeeding. And we want to thank you, of course, for providing not just us, but climbers worldwide with inspiration.⠀ ⠀ Nice job sending the Dawn Wall!!!!⠀ ⠀ Sincerely,⠀ Your friends at Black Diamond Equipment⠀ ⠀ Photo: Heinz Zak
Nyainqêntanglha: Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden climbed the 1,600-metre North Buttress of Nyainqêntanglha’s southeast face in Tibet this fall. Read Bullock’s account of their route here.
Mirror Wall: Leo Houlding, Matt Pickles, Matt Pycroft, Waldo Etherington and Joe Mohle made the first ascent of a 1,250-metre wall in Greenland they called the Mirror Wall 5.12b A3+.
Yosemite: Besides the Dawn Wall, there were a number of big sends in the Valley this year. Nina Williams, Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven sent the nine-pitch Final Frontier 5.13b on Fifi Buttress this fall. Verhoeven then made the second free ascent of the 25-pitch Dihedral Wall 5.14. Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl sent Zodiac Wall 5.13d in a five-day push. Pete Whittaker free-climbed Freerider 5.12d in a day, using rope-solo techniques.
Sebastien Berthe has made the second free ascent of the Heart Route 5.13b. Kevin Jorgeson and Ben Rueck made the first free ascent of the 1960 West Face route up Sentinel Rock. Brad Gobright and Scott Bennett climbed Zodiac, The Nose and Lurking Fear on El Cap in under 24 hours. Miranda Oakley set a new solo speed record on The Nose for women at 21 hours and 50 minutes.
Alaska: Graham Zimmerman and Chris Wright made the first ascent of the 2,000-metre West Face Direct M6 5.10X A2+ on Celeno Peak in Alaska’s St. Elias Range. Read more about the big alpine route here.
Grandes Jorasses: Simon Richardson and Michael Rinn made the first ascent of the 1,600-metre Diamond Ridge 5.10 A0 on the South South East Face Grandes Jorasses in the Alps over two days in July. Read more about the new route here.
The Eiger: Tom Ballard and Marcin Tomaszewski made the first ascent of the 1,800-metre Titanic 5.10c M5 A3 up the north face of the Eiger over seven days this fall.
The Torres: Colin Haley and Alex Honnold climbed the Torre Traverse in a day. The strong team needed only 20 hours and 40 minutes to complete the 5.11 WI5 C1 north-to-south traverse. Haley said after, “”On no other day of my life have I covered so much extreme terrain, with such a great variety of climbing styles.”
Torre Egger: Marc-Andre Leclerc made the first winter solo of Torre Egger in Patagonia in a 21-hour round trip. Leclerc returned with Austin Siadak and made the first free ascent of Titanic up Torre Egger. Leclerc freed every pitch on lead.
Other Notable Ascents: Caroline Ciavaldini sent Voie Petit 5.13d on the Grand Capucin in the Alps. Hansjorg Auer and Alex Bluemel have made the first ascent of the 1,200-metre north face ot Gimmigela East in Nepal. Markus Pucher made the first solo of Cerro Pollone in Patagonia. Gareth Leah, Sergio Almada Berreta and Octavio Aragon climbed the new El Son del Viento (The Tune of the Wind) on Mexico’s El Diente in 15 pitches at 5.12d. It took 15 days to establish and only two to send. Read more about the new route here.