Paul Gagner and Ryan Kempf made the first ascent of Museum Piece, a steep and aesthetic line that goes at V 5.8 A4 on Angelino Wall.

Gagner and Kempf are two seasoned veterans when it comes to big aid climbs, with Gagner having started Museum Piece nearly 15 years ago.

“When we first talked about the climb, Kempf asked me if I thought the route was worth the effort to finish,” said Gagner. “While I wasn’t positive I told him I thought it probably was. First ascents are always tough as you obviously don’t know what the route above you really is going to be like. I think we both agree now that it was worth the time and expense.”

They spent four days on the route before reaching the top and descending via rappels.

Gagner has climbed a number of big Zion routes and established at least two others, including Sand in Time on Isaac at V 5.8 A3+ and Latitudes on the Streaked Wall at VI A4+.

In 2013, Gagner told Chris van Leuven for the Mountain Gazette that, “My analogy to aid climbing to bouldering. As crazy as it may seem — bouldering is all about an economy of moving and precision. Aid climbing is the same thing – [especially] when it’s more tenuous aid. When you’re bouldering something hard you want to remember to breathe. I make sure to make myself breathe to keep calm. Otherwise I get on edge and that’s when you tend to make mistakes. You want to keep calm on a highball problem.”

He told van Leuven, “I never had any down time in 35 years [of climbing] except injuries. I’ve sprained my ankle tons of times bouldering. The rockfall on my head on the Steck Salathé (Sentinel Rock, 1,500 feet, 5.9), but that wasn’t [much of] a set back.”

From Yosemite to the Utah Desert, to Patagonia and Baffin Island, Gagner’s been climbing around the world for 40 years and continues to climb hard today.

He’s climbed some of the hardest aid routes on El Capitan, first ascents and shenanigans on Utah’s crumbling Fisher Towers, an early ascent of Cerro Torre in Patagonia, to his epic 1995 trip, borderline starvation and first ascent of a 1,500-metre big wall on Baffin Island.

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