The Shadow is one of the most beautiful corner pitches you’ll ever see: blank, steep, slightly acute, nothing but air beneath. At 5.13-, it is a coveted redpoint for visiting trad climbers to Squamish. Over the weekend Swiss climber Nina Caprez sent it in the best possible style: onsight.
Caprez wrote on Instagram, “Yesterday [I climbed] this really cool corner with buddy [Lynn Hill] called the Shadow. I was lucky to do it on sight, Lynn had a little [whipper].”
The Shadow was first climbed by Peter Croft in 1988. It is a direct variation to the University Wall, which Croft, Hamish Fraser and Greg Foweraker had established in 1982. Croft pulled off one of the most storied first ascents ever by onsighting the pristine corner.
Caprez’s ascent is the third known onsight of The Shadow, following Croft’s and Emilie Pellerin’s. Pellerin became the first person to repeat Croft’s feat when she onsighted the pitch in the summer of 2018.
Style. Climbers are all about it—improving upon it, honoring it. For a free climb like The Shadow, the best possible style for repeat ascentionists is freeing it in the same way as Croft—onsight—which is what makes Caprez’s ascent, and Pellerin’s before hers, so notable.
In an essay about his own quest to onsight the Shadow, Will Stanhope described what made Croft’s first ascent so incredible: “Peter didn’t so much as give the corner a cursory once-over with a wire brush. He just started up it, into the unknown, running on ability and belief. When the crack petered out into nothingness he stemmed his way through, battling crusty smears, improvising his way through the intricate movement. Obvious to the naked eye from the pub to the post office, the Shadow was more than a climb, It was an example of perfect style, an ascent that seemed to say ‘If you believe enough, you can do it.'”
Many of the biggest names have tried and failed to onsight the pitch over the years: Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Sonnie Trotter, Brette Harrington and the aforementioned Will Stanhope, to name a few.
Though he couldn’t bag the onsight as Croft or Caprez did, Stanhope wrote of trying to follow in Croft’s footsteps wrote: “Every climber has an ascent that stands out to them. A gold standard climb that you strive emulate. For me, it’s Peter’s onsight of the Shadow. The sort of climb that makes you want to try your absolute best as opposed to weasel out the easy way. I fell short in climbing it first try. But the inspiration, like the perfect grey corner above Highway 99, remains.”
Watch Jesse Huey Climb The Shadow