Adventure Icon: Sonnie Trotter

Rock Star

Mar 10, 2010
Outside Magazine
Sonnie Trotter

[30, SQUAMISH, B.C.]
A lot of climbers drill permanent safety bolts into the rock every six or seven feet, but we're going back and doing trad routes the way they would've been done back in the seventies. We've nicknamed it "retro-trad." Some outstanding climbs would've never been bolted if they weren't 5.14. Only now, climbing that hard on trad gear—stoppers, cams, and nuts that are placed into cracks and then removed—is relatively normal. So that's what we're doing. When I was 16, I saw footage of Peter Croft doing a climb like this in Yosemite. It was a 5.13 finger crack, and it had bolts on it. He ignored them. It just seemed to make sense to me. You can turn a lot of sport climbs into really dangerous trad climbs, but I'm looking for lines with big, bold features—the ones that scream out from across the valley. Maybe they have history. These I find worthy of the challenge. And, of course, they help me hone my skills for my own first ascents.

Trotter, who's climbed trad routes as hard as 5.14c, spent March establishing new routes on Mexico's 2,500-foot El Gigante.