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This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of our print edition.
Climber: Logan Barber
Route: The Firewall (5.13d)
Location: Liming, China
“A pure splitter, steep, long, powerful, technical, and brilliant,” is how Australian Logan Barber describes The Firewall, the third pitch of The Flying Buttress formation and currently one of China’s hardest trad routes. Barber nabbed the first ascent in May 2015, after many of the local climbers had tried and failed: “Among the Liming climbers, the line was always the thing to be done,” Barber wrote on his blog. The route opens with a slightly overhanging offwidth that transitions through fists and into tight hands before the angle kicks back to 30° and the hand jams turn into ringlocks and rattly fingers. The last five meters is the crux, with a ridiculously pumpy boulder problem before clipping the chains, which Barber did on his 22nd attempt over the course of two trips.
Climber: Nathalie Malo
Route: Le Toit de Ben (5.13a)
Location: Val-David, Quebec, Canada
Canadian Bernard Poisson first aid climbed this burly, 30-foot horizontal roof crack in 1958, placing wooden pegs and pins and climbing on hemp rope while wearing a homemade chest harness. It wasn’t until 1987 that Quebec climber François Roy freed the line, thus establishing Val-David’s first 5.13. This small, sleepy town is considered to be the birthplace of Quebec climbing, and around the time of Roy’s ascent, more than 170 routes were put up, increasing its growth and popularity. In 2010, Canadian Nathalie Malo ticked the first female ascent of Le Toit de Ben, which translates to Ben’s Roof, after climbing for only four years.
Climber: Sonnie Trotter
Route: Blue Jeans Direct (5.14a)
Location: Mount Yamnuska, Calgary, Canada
On the last day of his Canadian Rockies climbing season, legendary Canadian hardman Sonnie Trotter redpointed his summer project Blue Jeans Direct (5.14a) on the notable Mount Yamnuska, often referred to fondly as “Yam” by locals. The eight-pitch route shares seven of its pitches with Blue Jeans (5.13b), with the crux pitch going straight up a large and challenging bulge in the middle of the route, which the original route equipper Nick Rochacewich avoided in the late 2000s by going out left to easier terrain.