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Sonnie Trotter Establishes His Hardest Trad Climb – Family Man (5.14b)

On October 21, Sonnie Trotter finished off a project that he believes to be the hardest trad route he has ever established.

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Sonnie Trotter sending <em>Family Man</em> (5.14b). Photo by Jared Nelson. “>On October 21, Sonnie Trotter finished off a project that he believes to be the    hardest trad route he has ever established. </p>
<p>“But I’m also sleep deprived,” Trotter told <em>Rock and Ice</em>. “Our son Tatum    [now nine months old] has been teething lately. Ha Ha.”</p>
<p>Despite being a new father, Trotter has still managed to seek out new lines around    his native Canada. This past March, Trotter, his wife Lydia and his then two month    old son Tatum made the trek into the Skaha Bluffs in British Columbia and Trotter    rapped a line he had spied three years ago. </p>
<p>“I was very impressed by its aesthetics and position, but it looked impossible    from the ground,” says Trotter. “I finally decided to rap the line and see if there    were any holds. To my delight, there were just enough.”</p>
<p>Trotter was so eager to try the route, he built a top-rope anchor off a nearby    tree so Lydia could belay him harness-free with Tatum strapped to her chest.</p>
<p>“It was just another family outing for us,” says Trotter. “Lydia has always been    such a supportive partner, and having a kid doesn’t mean the end of climbing, it    just means adapting to a new way of going climbing.”</p>
<p>However, Trotter wasn’t able to link any individual moves. </p>
<p>“Lydia must have thought I was in over my head,” says Trotter.</p>
<p>Trotter continued working on the line when time allowed and began referring to    the route as the 50/50 project.</p>
<p>“It’s 50 degrees overhanging, and 50 feet long and if you blow the last few moves,    you have a 50/50 chance of hitting the ground,” says Trotter.</p>
<p>He explains that there are more face holds than finger locks on the route and    that the initial boulder problem checks in around V10. Once you grab a good hold    after the initial V10, it is solid V9 to the anchors, says Trotter. </p>
<p>    <img src=“There isn’t much time to place a lot of gear,” he says. “With that being said, it will suit shorter, stronger, braver climbers much better. I’m tall and weak with medium sized fingers, and so I had to do moves I don’t think a more compact climber with skinny tips will have to do.”

The difficulties began to seem reasonable for Trotter, however, and yesterday he felt ready to give the route his first lead attempt.

“The temps were impeccable, 59 degrees, mix of sun and cloud, dry and crispy,” says Trotter. “It was also the first time my wife and son had been back since April, so I was feeling inspired to put on a good show for them.”

Trotter surprised himself and sent the project on his first lead attempt, placing the gear on the go. Trotter spent a total of eight days on the route. He decided to name the climb Family Man and suggests soft 5.14b for the line.

“I’m going to give this climb a personal grade of soft 5.14b and see where it ends up over time,” he says.

When asked how Family Man compares with his other trad first ascents including the infamous Cobra Crack (5.14), which is often considered the hardest crack climb in the world, Trotter replied:

It’s definitely harder than my other trad first ascents, like Sugar Daddy (5.14) in Squamish, or Direquiem (5.14) in Scotland, and The Path (5.14) in Lake Louise, but the Cobra is tricky. I’ve been on the Cobra since my first ascent, and I was able to do all the moves pretty much first try. I think if I were to try the Cobra now, knowing what I know about the beta, I think it would go down much quicker than this route did. But, I’ve also been trying this climb by myself so far, so I could be doing everything wrong and backwards, and maybe one day someone will find a better solution.”

But he adds:

“No matter how hard the climb is, or how pretty it is, what I’ll never forget are simply the days being out there doing what I love the most, with the people I love the most. That’s just the greatest feeling in the world for me right now.”