Ontario Climbing Legend
Shaun Parent, 63, was an integral part of the northern Ontario rock and ice climbing scene in the 1970 s and 1980 s. He established countless routes, many of which are now classics. He promoted the area in publications, including his guidebooks and the Canadian Alpine Journal. He established rock climbs, such as Spiral Galaxy 5.8 and Discovery 5.8, and ice routes, such as Obsession WI4 and Hully Gully WI2. Parent now lives in Batchwana Bay north of Sault Ste. Marie, where he is a climbing guide and has discovered dozens of new routes.
1 What was your first ice climb?
First ice climb was near Boulder, Colo., in the early 1970s, on a three-day ice climbing course with Bob Culp’s climbing school. It was called the beginner and intermediate course.
2 What were your favourite ice tools back in the 1980s?
I had a few pairs, some Salewas, and would mix and match to find the best combination.
3 How many first ascents have you climbed and where are most of them?
I lost track of first ascents after about 1,000 pitches, just on ice and mixed.
4 How many ice routes are between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa?
I would say over 500 ice routes between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. The others are between the Minnesota border and Ontario to Wawa, including Orient Bay, Kama Bay and other zones.
5 What are the longest routes that you’ve climbed in Ontario?
That’s an easy one – for ice it would be Stratosfear, a 245-metre WI4 not far away from Montreal River. The longest rock route I can think of in Ontario is Discovery, which we made the first ascent of nearly 40 years ago. It’s five pitches. But, I might beat that height this winter with a new cliff discovery of about 260 metres.
6 How many new ice climbers do you take out every winter?
Last year I took over 200 ice climbers out to the routes around here.
7 Where’s the best rock climbing area around Montreal River? Ranwick Rock is the best developed site near Montreal River. There’s been two guidebooks published about that area since 2004. Multi-pitch lines and great rock.
8 How many big new routes are left to find in the area?
An area called Covenant Wall has two routes about 235 metres tall and there are a few left to do still. There are about six ice routes up to 240 metres in this area that are still left to make first ascents of.
9 What’s the best multi-pitch rock route in Ontario?
Not sure, but there are some nice routes that are over 200 metres. The routes here have only been climbed by me and a few other climbers, so I’m somewhat biased. We need to get a few other climbers on these routes – hopefully the word spreads and climbers come for a visit.
10 Do you see the climbing community growing in northern Ontario?
The climbing community is growing quickly in Sudbury and Thunder Bay and slowly growing around Sault Ste. Marie. Eight out of 10 ice climbers are American visitors to area. Wawa has a growing rock climbing group, there are over a dozen climbers living there now. There are a handful of ice climbers living around here too.—gripped