Push­ing the Lim­its

Gripped - - EDITORIAL - Push­ing the Lim­its. Lim­its Push­ing the Bran­don Pul­lan

One of the first climb­ing books I pur­chased was Chic Scott’s

It chron­i­cles the most im­por­tant Cana­dian climbs from the dawn of the sport to the late 1990s, when the book was pub­lished. Since then, a lot has hap­pened. Some im­por­tant climbs have been made and the lim­its are con­tin­u­ally pushed far­ther and harder. But push­ing the lim­its can’t hap­pen without the climbers who push them and these days, it takes ob­ses­sion, strength, a strong head and an un­be­liev­able amount of com­mit­ment.

There aren’t many climbers push­ing the lim­its, maybe four or five in each dis­ci­pline around the world. In Canada’s alpine, push­ing the lim­its has often in­volved climb­ing steep, cold and rot­ten faces of north-fac­ing stone in win­ter, alone and iso­lated. It takes more than courage to put your­self out there in an in­hos­pitable place where most of the dan­ger fac­tor is out of your con­trol. There’s an in­cal­cu­la­ble amount of haz­ards, ev­ery i nch of the moun­tain presents its own, and tak­ing them on suc­cess­fully has only been mas­tered by a few. And when I say mas­tered, I mean to the full ex­tent a climber can mas­ter the art of alpine climb­ing.

This year, the climb­ing com­mu­nity has lost a num­ber of climbers, but two were this type of alpine mas­ter. Marc-An­dré Leclerc was 25 years old and Brian Green­wood was in his mid80s. Green­wood gave the world of climb­ing ev­ery­thing he had and it benef it­ted many fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. He spent two decades push­ing the lim­its in Canada and opened new routes on Mount Tem­ple, Ba­bel, Kitch­ener, Cas­tle and Yam­nuska. Some of his routes are so diff icult and bold that they haven’t been re­peated. He re­tired from climb­ing in the early 1980s af­ter at­tempt­ing a new route on Mount Tuzo. He and Jack Firth bailed on the scary line and Green­wood de­cided then and there that he was done with climb­ing.

Leclerc also pushed the lim­its, not only on Cana­dian north faces, but on walls i n Yosemite, Patag­o­nia, Baf­fin Is­land and Scot­land. He was hum­ble, avoided fan­fare, climbed with a pas­sion for search­ing out qual­ity lines in re­mote places and had an al­most un­matched tol­er­ance for risk. Un­like Green­wood, Leclerc’s fire was ex­tin­guished be­fore he could at­tempt his most am­bi­tious climbs. With Leclerc’s pass­ing, how­ever, we not only lose the man, we lose the man’s dreams, which, if made re­al­ity, would have pushed the lim­its of our imag­i­na­tions.

To push the lim­its means to take big risks, and for some, climb­ing is about find­ing that limit and see­ing how far they can drive past it. While many of the big­gest chal­lenges have been ac­com­plished, there are still count­less more wait­ing for a climber who wants to push them­selves. As Scott said in his book, “

is about the lead­ing edge climbers who have ex­plored the bound­aries of what is pos­si­ble.” For more on Green­wood turn to p. 9 and and find out more about Leclerc on p. 28.

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