Everyone knows that a background in sport climbing and bouldering yields impressive trad-climbing skills. But since when
does a fractured heel from a bad bouldering fall lead to a desire to repeat hard, runout routes such as The Path (5.14a R)?
In July, Ethan Pringle fired the second ascent of The Path, a Sonnie Trotter testpiece at the Back of the Lake crag, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.
The Path was originally a longstanding project protected by bolts. Trotter chopped the bolts last summer, and established what is quickly
becoming a modern classic for the strong.
“The Path is really more of a gear-protected sport pitch,” says Pringle, who used headpoint tactics to send. “I didn’t take any lead falls on
it [At first] I climbed it like a bumbly because I was all nervous. And, yeah, it’s bitchin’. I’m glad there aren’t hangers on it. It’s one of the
coolest climbs I’ve ever done.”
2008 had started poorly for Pringle. On New Year’s Day, he went bouldering at the Buttermilks, outside of Bishop, California, with the intention of repeating
the Mandala Sit Down Start (V13/14). Near the top of the iconic prow, he fell awkwardly, spinning 180 degrees and breaking his calcaneous.
“Usually, I fall straight down and land like a cat,” says Pringle, who has amassed an outstanding tick list of the hardest and hairiest highball boulder
problems, including King Air (V10, 40 feet) in Yosemite, and Evilution (V12, 50 feet) and The Beautiful and the Damned (V13,
30 feet), in the Buttermilks. But I was all discombobulated.
For the next four months, Pringle dwelled on the consequences of his accident while watching movies and surfing the Internet. After getting his cast off,
Pringle decided to try some trad stuff, because I still can’t boulder outside safely, and sport climbing hasn’t gotten me psyched lately.
That stuff involved nearly flashing the traditionally protected Star Wars Crack (5.13a), at Donner Summit, California, he sent second try. Pringle,
22, had dabbled in some 5.11 trad climbs when he was 18 or 19, but nothing significant. His trad-climbing resume can be defined by leaps and bounds:
He went from climbing 5.11 to 5.13a to 5.14a R.
Pringle is a raw and bright climbing talent. The sheer breadth of his tick list owes to the fact that he is lucky enough to travel fulltime, and he repeats
climbs more quickly and easily than most. Some of his other recent sends include a second-try ascent of Existence Mundane (5.14b) at Acephale,
Canada; flashing the Little Cottonwood Canyon boulder problems Bully (V11/12) and Wrist Rocket (V10); repeating Chris Lindner’s The All Around Routine (5.14b), at Ibex, which Pringle called the best 5.14 in the country; and, in one outstanding day at American Fork, Utah, this spring, flashing High Water (5.13c), Inferno (5.13b), Body Count (5.13d), and Dead Souls (5.13d/14a) and then doing Cop Killa (5.13d) on his