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Grand Wall’s Split Pillar Moved on the 1961 FA

The famous Squamish pitch was first climbed using aid by Ed Cooper and Jim Baldwin

The first ascent of the Grand Wall in Squamish was completed in 1961 by Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper. The short clip below is from the film In the Shadow of the Chief, visit here for more.

In 1961, rock climbing on The Chief was all the rage in western North America and new routes were popping up all over the monolith. The big line of the year was Grand Wall, a 500-metre big wall route that took Baldwin and Cooper weeks to complete.

One of the most famous pitches on the route, and in Canada, is the Split Pillar. On the first ascent, they used custom pitons that a Squamish blacksmith made. They then used a huge hammer to secure them in the crack between the pillar and the main wall, so they could aid. The force of the pitons going into the rock, widened the crack so much that lower pitons fell out.

They graded it 5.6 A1, it now goes at 5.11 A0. Ed Cooper wrote the following in the American Alpine Journal in 1962: Our ascent of the face of the Squamish Chief required some 135 bolts and probably 200 pitons. Many mistakes were made, and perhaps others would have done better. But we made it, after nearly giving it up because of obstacles both on and off the face. No doubt the climb will be repeated, perhaps without the use of fixed ropes. Two days would be reasonable time for a competent party. But the challenge remains—that of a climb where only those who are thoroughly prepared should seriously consider the ascent, and even then, eventual success remains in doubt.

Split Pillar