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Emilie Pellerin Onsights The Shadow 5.13 in Squamish

Emilie Pellerin has onsighted The Shadow on The Chief in Squamish, it’s one of Canada’s most iconic pitches. Quebec-based Pellerin has had an amazing year of sends, including Zombie Roof 5.12d on her second go and a flash of Flight of the Challenger 5.12c in Squamish.

Out east, she climbed Fire in the Sky 5.13c mixed in the Adirondacks, 24 Hour Crack 5.13a trad in Acadia National Park and the burly Punky Brewster 5.13 mixed in Arapiles, Australia. Peter Croft made the onsight first-free-ascent of The Shadow in 1988. At the time it was one of the most difficult trad pitches in Canada.

The grade of The Shadow has been suggested at 5.12d, 5.12d+ and 5.13-, with most climbers agreeing that it’s 5.13-. Since the first free ascent, strong climbers such as Sonnie Trotter, Jasmin Caton, Brad Gobright, Brette Harrington, Jesse Huey, Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell and Will Stanhope have climbed The Shadow, but to our knowledge no one has onsighted it. This means Pellerin’s send could be the second onsight, but that’s not confirmed.

“I guess I just got lucky enough that my worn out shoe with inner soles sticking out made it through,” said Pellerin. “It took me nearly an hour, my calves muscle were twitching and burning so bad!”

Senja Palonen was the first woman to send the stem corner in 2012 and said after, “It’s one of the most beautiful and iconic routes in Squamish.” Harrington tried The Shadow, which is a variation second pitch on eight-pitch University Wall, twice in the fall of 2014 before sending it while placing the gear on lead.

In 2016, Stanhope wrote a short essay titled Shadow Casting and in it said, “Every climber has an ascent that stands out to them. A gold standard climb that you strive emulate. For me, it’s Peter’s onsight of the Shadow. The sort of climb that makes you want to try your absolute best as opposed to weasel out the easy way. I fell short in climbing it first try. But the inspiration, like the perfect grey corner above Highway 99, remains.”

After freeing The Shadow, Croft said, “I craved an odyssey that required my all—and quite possibly more…. I wanted to dive in and draw blood, and it was OK if that blood was my own.”

More to come from Pellerin’s onsight and amazing year of sends in the October/November issue of Gripped magazine.

Peter Croft on The Shadow Photo Kevin McLane / courtesy Croft