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Nathan Kutcher Quickly Repeats And Downgrades Ontario M13 “Test-Piece”

  • Nathan Kutcher at the base in the Grotto Cave.

Two-time Ouray Ice Fest winner and Canadian National Ice Climbing Team member Nate Kutcher has quickly repeated Dreaming of the West. The route was first climbed in 2017 by Stas Beskin who gave it the unprecedented grade of M13. The route is located in the Grotto Cave area in Elora and is a link-up of Time Line and Centipede M11 with the addition of a new “contrived and awkward M9 start,” according to Kutcher. The new opening leads to the Time Line traverse (M6) and then climbs into Centipede M11. Approximately two-thirds of Dreaming of the West consists of the climbing on Centipede. Halfway through the M6 traverse, there is an excellent rest where it’s possible to fully recover before heading into Centipede.
  • Nathan Kutcher at the end of the hard roof climbing.

“At the rest I had a bolt on either side of me and I was able to tie an overhand on a bight on the belayer's side of the rope and then clip it to my belay loop so I could be taken off belay without weighting the rope. We pulled the rope out of the first quickdraws to reduce rope drag, went back on belay and I untied the backup knot and kept climbing,” says Kutcher.

While the new start obviously adds more climbing, Kutcher doesn’t believe that it increases the grade of Centipede (originally graded M11) by any significant amount.

“The new climbing makes a longer route, but really doesn't add much if anything to the grade. Someone was definitely dreaming if they thought that this was M13. Even in Colorado it would barely be M12," says Kutcher. “I'm currently 10 lbs over my target weight and really haven't started doing much training for drytooling. It should have taken me more than a day to do this route if it was really M13.”
  • Nathan Kutcher sending the link-up.

Kutcher also noted that that Centipede is now a very different route than when he last climbed it. “The holds are much better now. They used to be pretty technical, but now they’re all pick-eaters. Some holds have also broken and new holds have magically materialized. I guess that is the evolution of a mixed/drytool route, but this process has been fast-tracked at Elora with folks climbing on these routes in the summer.”

Kutcher points out that, “unless a crag is heavily manufactured, drytooling when the rock is not frozen will result in a lot of damage to the rock.”

“When I was training for my first trip to Ouray I wanted to climb on Centipede, but I stayed off it because I wanted to preserve the route for future climbers,” recounts Kutcher. “I think that running laps and hogging out the holds is extremely selfish. Endurance training is super easy to do at home and shouldn’t be done on these routes.”
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 35 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid-80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.