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Turning words into action, Will Gadd has repeated what’s likely the world’s hardest mixed climb, The Game (M13) at Alberta’s Cineplex crag, without the long heel spurs that have been used extensively on recent mixed testpieces. Gadd has become an outspoken critic of spurs and other trickery that allow no-hands rests on the steepest climbs. Late last winter, a group of top international ice climbers initiated a lively discussion of modern mixed-climbing tactics, which, many agreed, appear to make the hardest climbs too “easy.” By heel-hooking a jammed ice tool or even sitting on a tool, climbers can rest in the middle of a ceiling. To make the point, Canadian Ben Firth once hung a lawn chair from a tool and relaxed in it. Last winter, visiting Ukrainian Evgeny Krivosheytsev deliberately eschewed the use of heel spurs to repeat Gadd’s Musashi (M12) at the Cineplex, as did Gadd himself a short while later. Declaring that “spurs are for horses,” Gadd began to work on The Game in what he calls “bareback style” — no hooking the tools with one’s feet, legs, or ass. The Game, established by Firth in early 2004, was repeated about half a dozen times last winter, all with full modern tactics. Gadd tried the route bareback twice last spring, and he worked on it another four days this winter. Finally, in late December, he made the bareback redpoint, via a more difficult finish that he called The Game Reloaded (possibly M13+).

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