Cobra Crack: Nico's Story, Ethan's Near Miss

Nico Favresse at the final crux of the Cobra Crack (5.14) at Squamish, British Columbia. Photo by Ben Ditto /
Nico Favresse at the final crux of the Cobra Crack (5.14) at Squamish, British Columbia. Photo by Ben Ditto /

Nicolas Favresse, who made the second ascent of Cobra Crack (5.14) at Squamish on July 18, said it was “definitely the hardest trad I have ever done.”

After one brief attempt three years earlier, Favresse spent eight days on the route this summer, making 15 attempts in all. “It was hard for me not only because of the physical challenge but also because it bites your fingers, so I could only give two tries a day, and sometimes on the second try [it] was already too much,” he said. “Also, I could only go up there once every three days in order to have my fingers recovered and fresh.”

“Most of the time when I work a hard route, I just train on it, doing crux moves over and over so I get stronger on them, and eventually build up the power for it,” Favresse added. “On this climb this wasn’t possible. Some of the moves I could only do them once, [and] then the skin pain would be too much to do it again.

“It probably sounds horrible, but in fact the route is really fun and enjoyable to climb.”

Canadian Sonnie Trotter completed the first ascent of the much-tried overhanging finger crack in the summer of 2006. Ethan Pringle, who recently repeated Trotter’s 5.14a R route The Path at Lake Louise, Alberta, is now attempting the third ascent of Cobra Crack, and has gotten painfully close.

Writing July 26 at his website, Pringle said, “It was my second try of the day, third day on the route, and my third [redpoint] attempt on the Cobra. I came frustratingly close, falling at the last hard move after my right pinkie greased out of one of the last side-pulls on the route, and…I tore a huge gobie on my pinkie in the process. Devastating!” Pringle added that the forecast for Squamish calls for a week of rain. However, Pringle has already purchased a plane ticket for a return trip to British Columbia later this summer.


Of the grade on Cobra Crack, Favresse said, “It’s hard to tell and probably a bit depending on your finger size, although I have pretty fat fingers. There are many different ways of doing each sequences. That’s what’s really nice about the climb. At first the Cobra Crack felt like 5.14c or even d. But now that I understand the moves better, I think it feels more like 5.14b to me. But hard, considering the nature of the climb, placing the pro, [and the fact that] the Cobra bites on the fingers!”

Date of Ascent: July 18, 2008

Sources: Nicolas Favresse,

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