I think what drew both Marc and I to hard granite slab climbing is the mental focus required. More than any physical attribute, to succeed you have to be present with the uncertainty of an unknown outcome - keep weighting the feet and hoping even though you are certain they will slip. Marc embodied this acceptance of uncertainty in all aspects of his life, but especially when he went into the mountains. He seemed to intuitively understand that true adventure lay beyond the horizon of familiarity, away from the stopwatch and our sports current obsession with heavily rehearsed feats of athleticism.
Marc’s eyes were wide as he told me about his biggest slab project, a free version of the aid route Wrist Twister on the Squamish Chief. The way he spoke about it made it clear it was a step above any slab climbing he had done before, and therefore probably very hard indeed!
Marc’s infectious enthusiasm for adventure and obvious pure love of the life he was leading meant that even the smallest interaction with him left a lasting impression. When he tragically died in Alaska in 2018 the climbing world mourned. I was deeply saddened to have lost my slab buddy, good friend and inspiration. I decided to try and finish his wrist twister project as a lasting testament to his unique vision.
Three and a half years after that first winter in the Smoke Bluffs, the route had become my longest standing obsession. Many times it seemed hopeless, but the fact that Marc clearly believed it was possible kept me coming back season after season to beat my head against the wall trying the same sections. The route acted as my measuring stick to see my improvement over the years, gradually I noticed I was able to read the subtle textures of the granite in new ways and unlikely sequences began to present themselves. In 2018 I sent the first pitch, sustained 8a slab with many low percentage moves, but still by far the easiest of the three independent pitches. In 2019 I sent pitch 3 at around 13d/8b, a long splitter tips crack protected by small cams and copperheads into a wild slab boulder crux as the crack petered out to nothing.