Luc Kennedy reaches for the final hold atop the crux sequence on P6.

The Goat Whisperer

Luc Kennedy takes in the thank god hold after completing the crux of P6. All that remains above is cruiser 5.10.

Luc Kennedy takes in the thank god hold after completing the crux of P6. All that remains above is cruiser 5.10. Photo: Alex Ratson


What drives climbers to seek out a first ascent? The idea of hanging on a rope while covered in dirt, soaking wet, and all alone doesn't sound very appealing.

Route developers, sometimes called diggers, because of the amount of dirt being moved, are motivated by many reasons. Each person has their own motivations; some are looking to contribute to what came before, some simply enjoy unearthing new lines, some are looking to add their name to the guidebook, while others use it as a way of exploring new places and avoiding crowds.

While the cost of route development can be prohibitive it is usually the desire to go through the first ascent process that deters most. The unknown nature of seeking FAs and the heavy workload involved can't be underestimated, but the vision of establishing a new line, of connecting the dots and seeing it come to life inspires each generation to leave their mark

Luc Kennedy delicately climbs through the crux of P6 (5.12-). Photo: Alex Ratson

A New Route “The Goat Whisperer” 5.12-, 6 pitches 

A beautiful, meandering route up the line of least resistance. This climb features devious, bizarre movement up interesting, discontinuous cracks on the nicely shaded Barbarian Walls. The route weaves its way up steep slabby faces, aretes, and dihedrals to a stellar splitter with a view.

Luc Kennedy climbs the finger crack system found on the upper portion of P4 (5.11). Photo: Alex Ratson

The Story

Amongst the Barbarian Walls, nestled between the Troglodyte Wall and New Delhi Cliff lies "The Ruins" - forgotten and forlorn stacks of perfectly hewn granite pillars all tilted to the east and harbouring a plethora of vegetated rock.

Luc Kennedy stared and wondered about the various possibilities and improbabilities of a new multi-pitch high above his home in Valleycliffe. He started exploring the possibilities with a ground-up aid solo attempt that accessed most of the lower pitches.

After burning out mentally from learning to solo aid, he retreated and accessed the top on-rappel. The original method of ground-up aid climbing a route would have to be put on hold for another time and place.

Luc Kennedy enjoys the final headwall of P6. Photo: Alex Ratson


Once the lines were fixed from the top down by Luc, the digging, scrubbing, and flailing started. Luc working the moves on a micro traxion while trying to piece together some unlikely sections for nearly two years. After countless days on the wall, Luc finally completed the process after a successful redpoint and released a new 6-pitch route up the wall.

A huge congratulations to Luc and thank you to everyone that helped him along his journey, including Chris Phillips who taught him how to place bolts and helped with scrubbing, and to Jack who supported Luc to redpoint the pitches.

Luc Kennedy and climbing partner Jack show their stoke for making the first full ascent of Goat Whisperer with Luc redpointing every pitch. Photo: Alex Ratson

Route Description

Goat Whisperer 5.12- 6 pitches

P1: 5.10- 20m

Climb the blocky feature on the left. (Don't go out right to the bolt) Step right to gain thin cracks at/above overlap. Continue to comfy belay ledge. Bolted Anchor.

P2: “Fight of the Spidermen” 5.11+ 30m
Climb up through diagonal crack features, then climb left past 2 bolts. Follow crack to the top. Gear anchor at the angle change. Name comes from a hostile, defensive spider puffing up his chest and challenging Chris to a fight near the little tree at the top.

P3: 5.8 20m
Ramble up to the ledge, skip the rap station here and Climb the steep, crack to a bolted station below the arette.

P4: "Consequential Ethics" 5.11 50m
Climb boldly up the arette on tricky small gear placements and 2 bolts. Make a few slab moves right past a bolt to gain finger cracks. Follow them up to the top of the pillar. Bolted Anchor. Manage your rope drag with slings.

P5: 5.7 20m
Climb the left leaning wide crack then traverse awkwardly left (Protect your follower) and step across a chimney to a comfy ledge and bolted station.
Move the belay around the corner below the final head wall. Bolted Anchor

P6 “Prance upon the Precipice” 5.12- 35m
This is what you came for! Climb the finger crack up the corner and gain the arette before moving right to a small diehedral and headwall crack. Bolted Anchor.

Recommended to Rappel the route from here with a FULL 70m rope (dont rappel into the Chasm below pitch 6)

P7: 5.10 20m
Climb up the cliff bands and ledges to a tree belay. Rappel the route with a 70m rope.


Standard Rack 0.1 - #4, Doubles: 0.1, #0.75, Triples 0.5,- Quadruples 0.2-0.4, Small Nuts and/or RPs, 8 quickdraws, 8-10 alpine draws, and 1 double length sling.

Route Development Hardware 

Route developers will purchase a variety of hardware during the process of establishing a line.

The most famous is the Red Scratch Brush, this little tool is probably responsible for more square footage of clean climbable rock than anything else. Beyond the actual scrubbing, the hardware installed can vary on the route and the decisions of the developer. If you are new to development this list will help you get started, this is on top of a regular climbing kit with harness, helmet, carabiners etc.

  1. Bolts and Drilling supplies such as Drill Bits, a Bolt Hole Brush, and a Blow Out Bulb
  2. Hangers and Stations
  3. Hammer and Wrench
  4. Static Line and Edge Protection 
  5. Ascenders
  6. Descenders
  7. Red Scratch Brush

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