On September 10, 2017, Sonnie Trotter realized his dream of completing 3 different alpine 5.14 routes in the Canadian Rockies. A dream that began in 2011 when Sonnie invited Tommy Caldwell to Canada on a mission to investigate the free climbing potential on the North/East face of Mount Louis. Sonnie and Tommy braved blizzards, rain, and a freezing cold night on the summit to complete the route, dubbing it “The Shining” at a grade of 5.13+
But “The Shining” was just the start of the dream. The second piece of the puzzle came together in September, 2013 when Sonnie completed and sent the route “Castles in the Sky”, 5.14a on Castle Mountain in Banff National Park. This 5 pitch epic tackles one of the most aesthetic lines on the lower tiers of the iconic mountain. The route took many weeks of work bolting, hauling gear, and projecting between frequent thunderstorms on the mountain.
In October 2015, the pieces of the puzzle started to come together when Sonnie completed a 5.14 direct variation to the route “Blue Jeans” on Yamnuska. This route shared 7 of the 8 pitches of the original 5.13b route that was bolted by Nick Rochacewich in 2010, and first ascended by Derek Galloway. The new variation took a more direct and aesthetic line on pitch 5 at the grade of 5.14a. Sonnie spoke of the ascent “A warm Rockies weather window, combined with a free day at home, combined with a MEGA motivated and inspiring climbing partner, got me to the summit of Blue Jeans Direct,” Trotter says on Facebook. “Life is good in the Canadian Rockies.”
In September 2017, the project finally came to close when Sonnie completed a 5.14 variation to the original Mt Louis route “The shining”. The variation involves an 80 meter monster pitch at 5.14a, and links the lower pitches together. In addition, Sonnie connected “The Moat”, “Castles in the Sky”, and “Eisenhower Tower” on Castle Mountain to create a 15 pitch monster route named “War Hammer” and goes at 5.14a.
The final linkups marked a major milestone for both Sonnie, and for Rockies climbing as a whole, solidifying the area as a significant destination for hard alpine multi-pitch climbing.
For more info on these routes, check out the following articles on Climbing Magazine, Rock & Ice, and Gripped Magazine
Castles in the Sky 5.14
War Hammer 5.14 Linkup
The Shining 5.14 (Climbing Magazine)
The Shining 5.14 Linkup
Blue Jeans Direct 5.14 (Gripped)
Blue Jeans Direct 5.14 (Rock & Ice)
This is hands down one of my favourite places to be in the Canadian Rockies. Castle Mountain, pitch 6 of War Hammer, 5.14a. Thanks again for sharing my adventures @rockandicemag and thanks @timbanfield for nailing this photo high on the mountain. It’s hard to get enough of this place sometimes. Belayer @brandonpullan