4 Pitch 5.11 Sport Route Established in Northwestern Ontario!
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When Steve Charlton started climbing on the 100 meter walls at Orient Bay over 20 years ago, he had a vision that one day there would be a sport route that went straight up the nose of Mount Olympus.
“The vision became a dream and the dream became a reality this weekend.” says Charlton
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In 2015 Charlton decided it was finally time to begin the quest and took a flight from his home in St.Catherines up to Thunder Bay. He had one thing on his mind; meet up with his long-time friend and climbing partner Jody Bernst, and head out to their stomping grounds at Orient Bay. Together they established and opened up the first pitch of the route and named it ‘Courage Highway’ in commemoration of Terry Fox.
“Orient Bay is such a treasure, and Mount Olympus is the gem.” –Charlton
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In 2016 Charlton flew back up to Thunder Bay motivated to complete a few unfinished projects him and Bernst began 20 years back at Orient Bay. Teamed up with local route developer Aric Fishman, the dynamic trio played on The Schoolhouse Walls and completed 2 unfinished projects while also developing a fun new route.
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With only a short window of opportunity this season, Steve Charlton set out to unlock the sequence and take ‘Courage Highway’ to the top. Teamed up with local climbers and route developers Aric Fishman, Kyle Brooks, Cory McFarlane, Andy Noga, and Duncan Hutchison, Charlton’s dream became a reality over the course of 2 weekends.
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Courage Highway – Sport, 5.11b, 4 pitches – 95 meters (312 feet)
15 draws (13 regular & 2 extendable), and 2 ropes recommended
Start approximately 10 meters left of “The Landmark” at an obvious flake and left facing corner.
Pitch 1: 5.11a, 25m, 12 bolts? – Climb up the flake/corner to the 4th bolt, step out right to a bolt and continue up right past 2 bolts (long draws recommended for rope drag) before continuing straight up to the hanging belay.
Pitch 2: 5.11b, 23m, 12 bolts? – Climb up and left, then continue straight up to the belay ledge. (“summit” register located here-please record your ascent!)
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Pitch 3: 5.10b/c, 35m – This pitch offers unique and varied climbing with nice position and some decent exposure. Climb up and right towards a sloping ledge and rest on the arete edge. Continue straight up to the belay ledge. 13 bolts.
Pitch 4: 5.10a, 12m – climb straight up from the left side of the belay ledge. 5 bolts
Descent: – rappel. Can be done with 1 x 60m rope in 4 rappels or 2 rappels with 2 x 50m+ ropes (recommended)
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“I really look forward to more people being able to enjoy a place that I love so much. To see a route go directly up the centre of the wall and have the moves unlock, at such an attainable grade, is truly a gift from the Rock Gods.” -Charlton
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Not only very accessible, this route is also very attainable, which makes it a climb that many people will be motivated to go try. Although it is a sport route, it is one that should not be taken lightly. This route is sustained, exposed, and requires a climber to be skilled in the art of multi-pitch climbing.
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Please note: the first ascent was climbed on traditional protection at the start and was retro- bolted by the first ascensionist, with agreement from local climbers. The bolting of the crack portion is contrary to the local ethic regarding installing fixed protection where adequate trad pro is available. Please respect the local ethics! The bolting of the bottom 5 meters allows for the route to be completed as a multi-pitch sport climb. For those looking for trad climbs, please step 5 meters left or 5 meters right for 5.12- and 5.11+R trad climbing.
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– Aric Fishman, author of
‘Thunder Bay Climbing: A Guide to Northwestern Ontario’s Best Kept Secret’