Sarah Hueniken Sets New Bar For Women's Climbing
Just a year after Sarah Hueniken climbed her first spray ice (a series of huge icicles created by the spray of a waterfall), she completed the hardest mixed climbing route ever done by a North American woman.
Mixed climbing combines ice and rock climbing and generally uses equipment such as crampons and ice tools. The route Hueniken completed, called Musashi, was an M15—a grade known for near-vertical or vertical steps up to 20 meters with sustained climbing that requires athletes to place multiple protection screws from strenuous stances.
To train, Hueniken worked with her friend John Freeman on mixed climbs near her home in Canmore, Alberta, a town in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. In the fall, Hueniken started on easier grades that helped her learn the skills needed for upside-down climbing. It wasn't long, however, before she moved onto more technical upside-down climbs.
Although she had not planned to attempt an M12, Hueniken was inspired to try Musashi in the Cineplex Cave near her home after a challenging climbing trip to falls outside Bozeman, Montana. After multiple attempts over several months, and a few torn intercostal muscles, Hueniken finally succeeded.