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Top climber caps off fun climbing day

A top Canadian climber capped off a fun day of activities at the Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival.
Kids took turns balancing on the slackline. (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

A top Canadian climber capped off a fun day of family-friendly activities at the Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival on Saturday with a presentation about what and who has inspired him and some of the impressive climbs he’s completed.

Will Stanhope is a top Canadian free climber from Squamish and grew up learning to climb on The Chief.

He spent four summers with his friend Matt Segal working on free climbing the Tom Egan Memorial Route on the east face of the Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos, before finally redpointing — free climbing after having practised the route beforehand — in August 2015.

“It’s this crazy, just-barely-there finger crack and I managed to do it after four summers of just kind of masochistic finger torture,” Stanhope said to applause.

He described losing his motivation during the fourth summer, but then a friend sent him a quote: “There is little point of setting out for a place one is almost certain to reach.”

“[It] made me a little bit more comfortable with … the thought of failure. You just have to accept that it might not happen and you just have to be OK with that,” said Stanhope. “And actually it was right after that, that I managed to climb it.”

Having climbed the Tom Egan Memorial Route, Stanhope next set his sights on the Howser Towers — which he could literally see from the top of his Snowpatch Spire climb.

He and British climber Leo Houlding recently free-climbed the three west faces of the Howser Towers in a day.

Stanhope had previously climbed all three but on separate trips.

“It’s a lot of climbing. It’s like close to 60 pitches and over 2,000 meters,” he explained.

A pitch is a section of a climb between belay points, which are points where the climbers have installed anchors and can support their climbing partners.

A member of the audience asked Stanhope when he knew they’d made it, and he replied, “It wasn’t in the bag till the bitter end.… It was like 20 minutes to spare.”

Leading up to Stanhope’s presentation, festival-goers spent the day climbing routes on the mountain face behind the Lion’s Head Pub. There was also a zip line, boulder climbing wall and slack line for the kids, and plenty of people took on the Tower of Power — stacking milk crates as high as possible while balancing on them.

Will Stanhope, a top Canadian climber, talked about his recent accomplishment—linking the three west faces of the Howser Towers in the Bugaboos in a day—at the Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival on Saturday. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)
Seth Netherclift, age four, took a turn on the kids’ zipline. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)
Ropes were set up on the wall climbs behind the Lion’s Head Pub on Saturday and everyone was invited to try the different routes. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)
Ryker Crone, age six, took on the Tower of Power at the Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival on Saturday. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)