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The Canvas

by Sonnie Trotter
Late Summer 2008

“Who’s that?” I asked, pointing to a poster on the closet wall while sinking back into the sofa. “C’mon dude,” Chris moaned with a heap of disappointment. “That’s Lynn Hill. She free-climbed The Nose in a single day.” I sat while he looked straight through me and said, “She’s the greatest free climber in the world.”

It was a hot sticky morning the summer of ’97. Chris and I were getting ready for some pocket-pulling at Baldy Rock. I sat on his couch while he packed his bag. “You wanna beer?” he asked. “Sure,” I replied, assuming it was for a summit celebration later that day. He cracked two bottles and handed me an icy-cold Moosehead. It was 9 a.m., and I was barely 17.

We went out and had a fun day, as good as any on record, but for the life of me I couldn’t erase that picture from my mind. Lynn Hill, the poster girl, with movie star hair and athletic legs stretched-out above 2,000 feet of vertical granite. The image was powerful, and
the line was strong. Indirectly, Lynn showed me what good climbing was, and I couldn’t get enough. I jumped headfirst into books, magazines and catalogs – anything I could find about the vertical world, new and old. For the first time in my life, I had real heroes. Sure, Chris was a hero, my mom and dad were heroes, but Ron Kauk, Peter Croft and Henry Barber (to name just a few) were climbers who embodied a spirit beyond strong muscles; they also represented a strong mind. They always picked the best-looking lines – lines that demanded physical endurance and mental tenacity.

About the Author
One foot in the past, one foot in the future, Sonnie Trotter blends respect for the rock with modern-day skills. Sonnie’s background in sport climbing – a genre he appreciates for places where natural protection is impossible – saw him redpoint up to 5.14d before he succumbed to the all-encompassing appeal of challenging climbing with natural protection. His world-class trad testpieces include Cobra Crack (5.14b/c) and The Path (5.14R), both in Canada, his home country – although the gregarious bohemian rarely spends more than three or four months there, instead viewing the world as an open book with knowledge waiting on every page.