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Huge Send! Loki 5.14b FA by Taryn Markall in Ontario

The decade-old project is now the first of the grade in the Thunder Bay area

Taryn Markall has made the first ascent of Loki 5.14b at Claghorn in northwestern Ontario. It’s the first 5.14 in the Thunder Bay area. Taryn’s dad, Dallas Markall, is the owner of Thunder Bay’s climbing gym Boulder Bear and filled us in on the history and send.

Thunder Bay’s climbing history dates to the early 1970s, with development at areas close to the city. Over the decades, the Thunder Bay climbing scene has witnessed ebbs and flows in development in a variety of areas and styles. In the summers of 2009 and 2010, Nick Rochacewich arrived in Thunder Bay on a mission.

Rochacewich is an active route developer and accomplished climber based in the Bow Valley. Rochacewich set his sights on Claghorn, a climbing area approx. 80 km east of Thunder Bay. He spent two summers putting up cutting edge lines that then were ahead of the curve for Thunder Bay climbing. He developed a number of classics such as Alberta Ride 5.10a, Finlandia 5.13b, A Farewell To Arms 5.13a and the mega classic Jack Layton Memorial Route 5.12d. Rochacewich’s time in Thunder Bay finished before he had the chance to finish one final gem. A mixed line that was described as perfectly sculpted for climbing. That project is what Markall sent at 5.14b.

“The route has a bit of everything, slab, vertical technical climb on small sloped holds and a past vertical crack at the top,” said Dallas. “It breaks down into four distinct cruxes, with no rests between crux one and two. Crux one is a powerful mantle move to a dynamic layback catch. Crux two requires a hopping foot swap while on two sloped side pulls. After that, there is a brief reprieve on small technical crimps that lead to the third crux problem.”

This crux includes a V10 boulder problem that needs some good hip mobility. “That last crux comes just prior to getting into the amazing finger crack to the top,” said Dallas. “This delicate section of potential barn door climbing will keep you paying attention right to the end.”

Markall began trying the project in August 2020. She put two days on it that season and thought about it all winter. In May 2021 she began to head out to put time on the wall. For all of May and June, it was a waiting game for conditions to improve. The bottom of the route dried quickly, but the top half remained wet well into July. Once the route dried, Markall began to put serious efforts in.

On Aug. 22, the conditions were amazing, according to Dallas. Dry rock, cool weather and slightly overcast. Everything came together, and Markall clipped the chains. Rochacewich had been contacted during the projecting time and was asked about a name for the climb. Rochacewich explained the name he picked and the reasoning behind it, so Taryn was happy to stick to the original name for the climb. Over the past two seasons, Markall sent Finlandia 5.13b, A Farewell To Arms 5.13a and made FFAs of Corona Project 5.13a, Decades 5.13b and Baby Deer 5.13d.

Markall competed in Difficulty Youth A at an Ontario Climbing Federation event at Aspire in Milton in February 2020, weeks before the pandemic lockdown. Her send of Loki is historic and will likely draw the attention of climbers from southern Ontario, and farther away. Claghorn is a kilometres-long crag with dozens of trad routes up to 5.12 and bolted routes to 5.14.

Taryn Markall on Loki 5.14b at Claghorn