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The Story About Canada’s First 5.15

In 2016, Alex Megos spent a few days projecting an old project and sent it in August. He called it Fight Club 5.15b

Back in the summer of 2016, Alex Megos sent Canada’s first 5.15 at Ravens Crag above the town of Banff and called it Fight Club 5.15b. It follows a steep prow that rises above the forest. The route had been known as the “prow project” for over 20 years. Bolting started in the early 1990s by Peter Arbic and was attempted by some of Canada’s best climbers over the past two decades.

Arbic only bolted the lower half, which Megos sent at 5.14b on his second try. Canmore-based Sonnie Trotter then extended the route on the same day and discovered a cryptic sequence for Megos to unlock. After five or six days of projecting, Megos sent on Aug. 14, two days after his 23rd birthday. Megos said it is as hard as First Round, First Minute 5.15b..

Alex Megos on the Prow Photo Brandon Pullan
Alex Megos on Fightclub 5.15b Photo Brandon Pullan

Ravens Crag was mostly developed by Arbic and friends and the routes were named after Edgar Allen Poe poems, including House of Usher 5.12a, The Hermit 5.13b and The Masque 5.13b. The prow project never adopted a name from a Poe poem. However, Fight Club the movie is said to be a take on Poe’s story William Wilson. Fight Club was the second 5.15b in America after Jumbo Love.

Megos had been on a tear in Canada during his trip, climbing a number of new 5.14s, including Full Nelson 5.14d. His longest project in Canada prior to Fight Club was Bunda de Fora 5.14d, which took him less than three tries. When Arbic was asked about the attention Ravens Crag was getting, he said, “It is one sweet little sweep of rock. I used to wonder if anyone would ever walk up there but me.”

In 2018, Adam Ondra visited Canada and established two new 5.15s: Disbelief 5.15b and Sacrifice 5.15a. He also tried Fight Club, but couldn’t piece it together during his quick visit. “Two days of work into Fight Club 5.15b,” said Ondra. “Found some good beta, made it even through the crux move in one try, but then slipped immediately because of (still) dry skin. Unfortunately there is a hold high up that broke last year which will make the top pretty spicy if you come from the ground.”

Several other climbers have tried Fight Club, including Evan Hau, who made good progress on the test-piece in 2022. We’ll see what 2023 brings.

Fight Club FA