The Canadian Rockies have a lot of sport climbs, from classic 5.10s from the 1980s to modern 5.14s established in the past few years. But as many know, there are few big overhangs with big jugs and wild features.
Bonar McCallum recently completed his project in the Echo Cave at The Lookout in Echo Canyon, above Canmore, and called it Bat Shit Crazy 5.13c. He said the steepness combined with the big holds make it a unique climb for the area.
We touched base with McCallum, who also made the first ascents of Flaws are Features 5.12b and Tree of Life 5.12c at Echo Canyon, about Bat Shit Crazy, which he described as “one of the most unique sport climbs in the Bow Valley.”
What was the bolting/projecting like? I bolted this about five years ago, just before we opened our business, Move to Move, which is a rehabilitation clinic and movement studio in Calgary. Due to growing the business and change of training focus to a general movement practice, I pretty much stopped climbing for about four years, putting a bunch of projects on the back burner. It was time to get back to climbing in a more serious way this last winter, and this route was on top of my list of things to get done. I likely spent six or seven days trying it this year.
What makes it so unique? We don’t get much pure roof climbing here in the Bow Valley, a style that you see more in places like Horne Lake or Maple Canyon. It may just be the steepest line in the Bow Valley, and there are tons of knee bars, 3D moves, and strange sequences. I’d describe the climbing as all good holds, no hard moves, just lots of time spent upside down. I think the send took over 30 minutes of climbing. Echo Cave often seeps heavily through spring and early summer, coming into condition late July/Early August, so I’m grateful that I had a good window to get it done this year.
How stoked are you on it? I’m really psyched with how it turned out. It seems that older climbers can still push their grades, especially in steep terrain, and as I’m now 55 I’m hoping for more lines like this to get after. There are still extensions at the beginning and the end that can get done, bringing the grade into the 5.14s, hope to work on these next. The cave is slowly filling in, with Grzegorz Florek’s No Surrender 5.14c, Marcus Norman’s Hand Party 5.12c and Greg Tos’s Morpheus 5.12b. Pretty soon I think this cave will have a number of link-up and options that will make it a great training ground.
Watch McCallum on Bat Shit Crazy below to see cool rests and powerful moves.