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19 Years Later: ‘First Ascent’ Climber Didier Berthod Free Climbs Cobra Crack

This week, Didier Berthod, a Swiss crack climber, successfully free climbed the infamous Cobra Crack in Squamish, British Columbia. He did it 19 years after his first attempt in 2005, which was immortalized in the documentary First Ascent.

Mountain Project labels the Cobra Crack as “one of the hardest crack routes in the world.” It just wasn’t in the cards for Berthod to be the first to free climb it. The year after his attempt, Canadian climber Sonnie Trotter was the first to do so in 2006. UKC Climbing reports that Didier had also returned that year for a second attempt, but he got injured before he could even start the climb.

Then, Didier took a break from the sport. He even became an ordained priest.

But this week, nearly two decades after that first try, Didier completed a free ascent of the infamous route. He posted about his experience on Instagram, saying:

“I don’t know if it’s a chapter closing or a chapter opening
But what is certain is that what I experienced yesterday will mark a major turning point in the course of my existence.
I (finally) sent Cobra Crack
After many trials and doubts of all kinds
But yesterday it went, and this day will remain engraved forever in my history”

This crack route is truly gnarly. You can get a sense of just how difficult it is in this First Ascent clip of Berthod’s initial attempt in 2005:

It seems Berthod’s persistence paid off. He encourages others at the end of his celebratory post, saying:

“Never stop dreaming big
Against all odds”

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