On February 26, Canadian climber Marc-Andre Leclerc soloed three major mixed routes on the Stanley Headwall, B.C. in a
single day—bringing solo climbing in the Canadian Rockies to a new level.
He started the linkup with French Reality (M5 WI 6+), the hardest ice he’d ever soloed, and then after rappelling the route, he skied to the base
of Nightmare on Wolfstreet (M7+ WI 6+). After the first two pitches, he crossed over into The Day After les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (M5 WI 6) for the last 400 feet to the top of the headwall—Leclerc dubbed this combo Nightmare-Vacances. After skiing down, he finished
out the trifecta with Nemesis (WI 6) and was back in Canmore 12 hours after he left that morning.
Today was certainly one of my best days on ice tools. In the early morning I skied up to the Stanley Headwall, unsure of whether or not I would try the objective. But the moment I started climbing I tapped into a feeling of presicion. By early afternoon I had soloed three amazing routes; French Reality, a combination of the lower section of Nightmare on Wolf Street and the upper pitches of The Day After La Vacance… (Nightmare Vacation?) As well as the classic Nemesis. Amazing climbing. #arcteryx #mtwaddingtons #raenergy
A photo posted by Marc-Andre Leclerc (@mdre92) on
Rock and Ice caught up with Leclerc to learn more:
Was the linkup planned or spontaneous?
The linkup was both planned and spontaneous. I had kept the possibility of doing something like that in the back if my mind, but was not considering it
as a ‘right now’ kind of project.
After doing some linkups on the headwall with visiting climber Jeff Mercier I realized that I knew current conditions thoroughly well and was feeling very
dialed on my tools. I skied up to the wall ready to bail if things weren’t feeling right, but once I started climbing I felt great.
Why did you choose these three routes?
I chose these three routes because they are the most logical lines on the wall to solo. The dry tooling sections are on solid rock and the difficulties
are never extreme. The combo of Nightmare and les Vacances skips the insecure lower crux of the latter while avoiding a steep loose
pitch on the former.
Have any of these routes been soloed before?
I’m sure Nemesis has been soloed a few times as it is classic and straightforward. French Reality saw two solo ascents in 2006 by Will
Mayo and Mike Verwey. The fact that it saw so much action that specific year is a possible indicator that it was in fatter than usual. The Nightmare-Vacances combo had definitely never been soloed, no doubt due to the M7+ dry tooling on the first pitch.
How were the climbs?
Everything went very smoothly. The climbing was highly enjoyable throughout the whole day. There was no track up valley to Nemesis so breaking
trail on skis was hard work. I also waited under an overhang through the warmest part of the day to avoid powder stuffs coming down from the top, it
was a beautiful day and I had good tunes going!
The Headwall link-up was my best climbing day in a while and really special.
The Rockies are not as well known in general as other areas and things that happen here tend to go relatively unnoticed even if they are more rad or truly
hard-core than stuff happening in the Alps or Patagonia! It’s actually cool because of that.
As avalanche conditions stabilize I hope to do some big Rockies alpine lines. But I am also really excited to do some multipitch rock FA’s with Brette
Harrington next week. There’s something to be said for free climbing sunny rock without clunky boots or ice tools!
Follow Marc-Andre Leclerc on Instagram @mdre92