Charlie Barrett’s Working on a Dream: The Grand Illusion Route

Charlie Barrett Climbing the Grand IllusionMy obsession with the Grand Illusion started when I started climbing over 13 years ago. I remember seeing Greg Epperson’s picture of Hidetaka Suzuki clipping an oval biner on a friend high on the route. I remember thinking to myself, the route looked so beautiful, impossible and simply perfect. I didn’t care where on earth it was; I was going to make the trip to climb it.

The architecture of the rock seemed so unreal and it became the climb I needed to do. I was pleased to find it was only three hours from where I grew up but learning it was graded 5.13, accomplishing the route seemed impossible as I was then a 5.10 climber. Not to mention, it was considered the hardest climb in the world at the time.

Photographing Charlie Barrett Climbing the Grand IllusionYet, the dream did not fade; it continued despite the fact I never thought I would be capable of climbing the route. A few years later I started trying the climb while I was living in Truckee, California. My climbing had improved quite a bit and performed well on all routes on the star wall, up to 14 a/b.

Charlie Barrett Climbing the Grand IllusionAfter traveling around for a while and getting to climb some of the hardest cracks in the US, I realized I left behind a gem, my own personal history, my dream. I have now been working this climb till no end. I’m headed back up there in a few days to see what will happen. If the climb doesn’t happen this time around I will commit my fall season to climb this thing! If you see me around and I’m wearing the world’s biggest smile, you’ll know I made my dream come true.

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