Calgary

'Fight Club,' Canada's most difficult rock climbing route, established in Alberta

A 23-year-old German climber is the first to complete the 5.15b route on Sulphur Mountain in Banff.

German climber Alex Megos completes 5.15b overhang in Banff

German climber Alex Megos, 23, has completed the most technically difficult rock climbing route in Canada. (Brandon Pullan/Gripped)

Originally published August 16.

Alex Megos has just ascended the toughest rock climbing route in Canada.

The 23-year-old German man completed the newly-established route on Sunday in Raven Crag, located on Sulphur Mountain above the town of Banff.

"The route is an overhang, basically, from the bottom to the top and it's about 20 metres long," Megos told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday.

Lead climbing and harnessed into a rope, it took Megos five days and "at least" 10 falls to complete the climb in one go.

And so, it's fitting that he's named the route "Fight Club" after the 1999 Hollywood film which deals with issue of battling one's internal demons.

Megos has been traveling around the world since 2012, climbing the world's hardest routes.


It's a 5.15b

The difficulty rating of a climbing route increases as the holds (the cracks and holes climbers use to pull themselves up the rock wall) get smaller and further apart.

"There's a lot of climbing jargon that goes along with this stuff, and what we're talking about here is grades," said Brandon Pullan, editor of Gripped magazine.

Under the Yosemite Decimal System, rock climbing grades start at 5.0 and once you hit 5.10 — each number increases incrementally by letters (5.10a, 5.10b all the way to 5.15d).

"Up until the early 1990s the hardest climbs in the world were 5.14d and they were in Europe," said Pullan. 

Today, the three most difficult sports climbing routes in the world are Dura Dura (Spain), Change (Norway) and Vasil Vasil (Czech Republic) — all of which are 5.15c. 

Fight Club is a 5.15b and is the first climb in Canada to be given that rating.

​"For the world of climbing it's one of the biggest deals of the decade," said Pullan.

German climber Alex Megos, 23, has spent the last four years ascending the toughest rock walls in the world. (Brandon Pullan/Gripped )

Old route given new life

The Fight Club is actually an extension of an old climbing route.

In the 1990s, a mountain guide named Peter Arbic bolted the lower half of the route.

"But he stopped because he thought it would be too difficult," said Pullan.

In anticipation of Megos' visit to Canada, Canmore climber Sonnie Trotter extended the route higher up — doubling its length and increasing its difficulty. 

Pullan said the new route will most certainly put Banff National Park "on the map" for some the world's most elite rock climbers.

We talk to a German mountain climber who has just made Canadian climbing history by scaling a challenging route near Banff.

With files from the CBC's Caroline Wagner and the Calgary Eyeopener

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