Lor Sabourin climbs Stranger than Fiction, 5.14 Trad

© @blakemccordmedia

Lor Sabourin has made the second ascent of Stranger than Fiction, a 5.14 (E10) trad crack at Bartlett Wash, Utah. 

The route was first climbed in 2015 by crack aficionado and Utah local Mason Earle, who worked the route for three years before climbing it. When working the route in 2013, Earle said that if he was able to climb it, it would probably be 'the hardest crack in the world'. 

The one hundred and ten foot route demands a range of crack climbing skills, starting with thirty feet of fifty degree overhanging rock, testing hand jams, feet-first climbing, and a combination of fingerlocks and thin hand jams.

The crack then narrows, with a hard boulder problem between the climber and a good rest. Thereafter, a further fifty feet of twenty-five degree overhanging rock, with no rests, separates the climber from the anchor. Earle described this latter section as 'campusing on fingerlocks'.

Both Earle and Sabourin struggled to get their feet into the thin upper crack when wearing climbing shoes, and therefore elected to tape their right feet instead.

Like Earle, Sabourin climbed the first part of the route with shoes, before taking their right shoe off when the crack thinned out, so as to be able to use the narrower profile of their foot to jam the crack.

Stranger than Fiction is Sabourin's hardest ascent to date, taking them four seasons to complete. Their previous hardest ascents are East Coast Fist Bump, 5.14a, in 2021, and Belly Full of Bad Berries, 5.13b, earlier this year.

'It all still feels surreal', Sabourin said on Instagram, 'this October, when I was getting ready to launch into my fourth season on the route, I wrote out an extensive list of "quitting criteria," things that could happen (or not happen) that would suggest that I should abandon the projecting process'.

'I needed to be realistic. I was working a full-time job, flying back and forth between the Southwest and Detroit to spend time with a parent in hospice care, and grinding away at a thesis. The previous seasons, I had partnered up on the climb with a dear friend, and with her needing to take time away this season, it felt lonely and a little selfish to recruit partners to go out to a single crack that was far from everything'.

'At the bottom of the list of links that I needed to make in specific numbers of sessions, I added an after-thought. "It's also okay to give yourself a chance."'

'I'm grateful for the chance to bet on myself with this one. To walk in the footsteps of a climbing hero. To build relationships with new friends. And to have such a beautiful space to go to over the past two years as my life shifted and changed'.

'I'm proud of the fact that I never had a bad day on the route. I'm proud that I never tried to skip a step of the projecting process and that, even on the final day, when I felt an embodied understanding that I was ready to send, I never felt entitled and never "fought" with the route'.

'I'm looking forward to sharing more cute little love stories from this process and shout[ing]-out all the humans that wove the giant support net that it takes to move towards goals like this'.

Check out the Wide Boyz' recent video of them working the route, and of Pete's first redpoint attempt, below:

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23 Nov, 2023

Pretty wild technique there!

Lor is awesome, psyched they're getting attention for the routes they're doing. Looks epic!

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