May 12 is 5.12 day, which means you’re either scanning guidebooks for a 5.12 warm-up or looking for a season-long 5.12 project. Either way, 5.12 is one of the most talked-about grades in the Yosemite Decimal System.
The first 5.12a recorded in North America was in 1961 by John Gill called The Thimble in the Needles, South Dakota. He free-soloed the first ascent. The first 5.12c was Macabre Roof at Ogden, Utah, in 1967 by Greg Lowe. The first 5.12d was Psycho Roof in Eldorado in 1975 by Steve Wunsch. Watch a 1991 ascent of Thimble below.
Some great 5.12s in western Canada are: Sentry Box 5.12a and Black Water 5.12a at Murrin Park, Incredible Journey 5.12a at Check, The Spell 5.12a at Skaha, Raw 5.12a at Grassi Lakes and Power of Youth 5.12b at the Lookout, Alberta. There are dozens of often-tried 5.12 bolted and trad routes from the Rockies to the coast.
In eastern Canada, some top 5.12s are: The Fin 5.12b at Lion’s Head and Fear and Loathing 5.12d at Nemo, Cherubin 5.12a at Lac Boisseau and Adénosine 5.12b/c at Weir, RA 5.12 at Sunnyside Wall and The Golden Egg 5.12 at Castle. Just like western Canada, out east has countless classic and forgotten about 5.12 sport and trad routes.
Raw 5.12 at Grassi
It’s not an easy time to get stronger, as climbing gyms are closed in Canada due to covid-19 and most rock climbing is or was closed. A great book to learn how to climb 5.12 is How to Climb 5.12 by Eric Horst, find it here.
Below is a video of how to break down a 5.12, project it and piece it together. The route is Yertle the Turtle 5.12a in Texas. “It was well above my hardest send to date at that point. Here is a rundown on the climb and the lessons I learned in the process to getting the send. While it wasn’t my first 5.12a send, it was the first 5.12 I ever tried, and it was certainly the most satisfying to send.”
If 5.12 is on your list for 2020, this is the time to start training and looking for one that suits your style.