March 17, 2022

Who Was Marc-André Leclerc from The Alpinist?

by Bernice

“The Alpinist” recently aired worldwide and had viewers on the edge of their seats. It was nerve-wracking to watch a young climber without ropes switch from bare hands to ice axes so effortlessly – especially for the experienced climbers.

Who Was Marc-André Leclerc, the Epic Solo Climber from The Alpinist?

Marc-André Leclerc was the star of the documentary The Alpinist, a relative unknown in the climbing world for a good reason. His achievements were not something to boast about. In some cases, his greatest climbs only became mainstream climbing news when friends told friends about them, and it eventually got published.

In the highly competitive climbing world, not much goes undocumented. For instance, over 300 hours of footage are usually uploaded on YouTube per minute.

Among these videos, you’ll find new attempts to break records from professional athletes: it no longer feels like an achievement for some until it’s documented and uploaded online, liked, and shared on social media. 

However, this is not the case with the documentary the Alpinist, featuring Marc-André Leclerc, one of the greatest rock climbers.

Despite having a hereditary gift in the free-solo climbing discipline, Marc-André Leclerc preferred handling most ascends alone, without followers, fanfare, or videos. 

Fortunately, several filmmakers documented his talent and were kind enough to film him as he stealthily did what he did best; free solo climb.

The final product was the documentary: the Alpinist, the story of a down-to-earth and socially awkward Marc Leclerc, who happens to love free solo climbing and makes it look as easy as walking to the shop. 

Many famous rock climbers took part in the Alpinist to express their gratitude for the talent of Marc-Andre. One of the climbers is the famous Canadian alpine climber Barry Blanchard.


Table of Contents
Who Was Marc-André Leclerc
Who Was Marc-André Leclerc?

Marc-André Leclerc Personal Life and Biography 

This talented free solo climber was born on October 10, 1992. He is an alpinist and rock climber born in British Columbia, Nanaimo.

Famous for his solo climbs on multiple mountains in different parts of the globe, Marc-André’s first ascends were the Mount Robson Emperor Face and Patagonian Torre Egger. His parents are Serge Leclerc and Michelle Kuipers. 

When he was eight years old, his grandfather introduced him to climbing by purchasing the Quest for Adventure book, authored by Chris Bonington.

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At nine, Marc had his first ascent on an artificial climbing wall in Coquitlam, in a shopping mall. That same year, he joined the Project Climbing gym.

In 2005, his family relocated to Agassiz, close to the Cascade Range peaks, where he started training.

Moreover, he rode his bicycle to a rock climbing region, the Harrison Bluffs, to train. At 15, his mother purchased The Freedom of the Hills mountaineering copy for him.

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This book encouraged him to enroll in the British Columbia Mountaineering Club, after which he swiftly had a reputation as a good climber. 

He began competing immediately and started winning competitions, and in 2005, he won the Canadian Nationals.

He went on to have an impressive climbing career and was among the best free solo climbers in the world. 

What Did Marc-André Leclerc Climb?

Leclerc was an exceptional climber who did everything from trad to sport, ice, and alpine climbing.

The Alpinist features magnificent routes, with him shifting from snow and ice to rock with no hesitation or doubt.

He was always ready to climb, no matter the route or weather. Most of the climbs he’s completed are perhaps not known since he was not one to publicize his achievements.

Here are some of his most remarkable ascents, including free solos and huge link-ups:

Marc-André’s Climbs in 2013

In 2013, he made his first climb on the St. Anthony The Temptation, graded 5.3R/X. The R/X grade is for huge runouts and very significant fall possibilities.

This was among his first climbs on a rock. He installed anchors on the six pitches but ended up ascending it utilizing trad equipment and hooks. 

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Marc-André’s Climbs in 2014

This year Marc-André Leclerc managed a free solo ascend on three terrains; the Northeast Buttress, British Columbia, graded 5.9+, Navigator wall rated 5.10+, and East Pillar Direct, graded 5.10+.

He had earlier climbed the Northeast Buttress and another 5.9 graded terrains within 24 hours. 

In August, he was determined to free solo three different routes, well known for sporting loose rocks without rope or company. He succeeded in his mission in less than 24 hours. 

Marc-André’s Climbs in 2015

Marc ascended the Directa de la Mentira and the Patagonian Traverse of Torres for the first time.

He climbed these routes while roped and showed his commitment and courage to make history on unclimbed terrain with a partner and rope. 

Again in 2015, Leclerc ascended The Corkscrew in Patagonia. This was his first solo on this terrain, though he utilized a short rope and almost no protection in some parts.

This was a notable ascend mentally and technically. Besides, Brette Harrington accompanied him. She completed the first female solo ascent in Patagonia when she climbed the Chiaro di Luna terrain alone. 

Lastly, in 2015, Marc Andre completed his first climb on the El Capitan, Yosemite, an erratic free ascent of a 33-pitch terrain. He did it with Alan Carne and Brette Harrington. 

Marc-André’s Climbs in 2016

In 2016 Marc-André made his first Winter solo climb on the Patagonian Torre Egger. Out of all the climbs he completed, this was one of the most audacious.

This was the second time this perilous route had been ascended during winter. 

Marc-André’s Climbs in 2017

Leclerc completed his first free solo ascent of the Echo Canyon, rated 5.11c. This 7-pitch sport route is graded 5.11c and is the most challenging free solo climb on rock. 

Marc-André’s Climbs in 2018

This year Marc climbed The Mendenhall Towers’ North face in Alaska. Together with Ryan Johnson. They had been planning to ascend this 2500ft face for a long time. 

Did Marc-André Leclerc Finish School?

Marc-André attended Secondary school at Agassiz Elementary after graduating from Highroad Academy.

Leclerc finished high school a year early, spent a summer hanging drywall, and then moved to Squamish, where he met Brette Harrington.

Who Were Marc-André Leclerc’s Father and Mother?

Marc-André Leclerc father is Serge Leclerc, and his mother is Michelle Kuipers. his mother. Marc Leclerc was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, in October 1992. 

Marc-André Leclerc Movies, Documentaries, Books

Marc-André was not one to advertise his achievements, but he is featured in the documentary The Alpinist. 

The Alpinist

This documentary stands out because instead of the conflict resulting from how the climber will attain his objective, the Alpinist’s conflict is more pragmatic.

It’s primarily based on a 23-year-old climber reaching remarkable heights and not advertising them. 

It also covers the tension between the casualness and reality that Marc-André Leclerc achieves these heights.

With some high-quality footage, particularly from his headcam, you’re allured into extraordinary ascends through Marc’s eyes, who’s calm enough to be comfortable when on such heights, without rope or company. 

Where to Watch the Alpinist Streaming Online?

If you’re looking to stream The Alpinist online, you can do it on Amazon. Initially, it was supposed to be released in 2020, though it kept being pushed back.

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After some time, there was a restricted theatrical release in 2020 in the US, followed by a wider release, and now you can download or stream it from any part of the world. 

At some point, people have called The Alpinist the Free Solo on Ice, which is quite the proper assessment.

On the Free Solo on Ice, Alex Honnold talks and compares notes and is openly astonished by Marc Andre’s ice solo climbs.

The Alpinist has excellent reviews, 97% audience rating, and 93 % critics’ rating on rotten Tomatoes. It is worth watching as it is one of the most outstanding climbing documentaries.

Marc Andre Leclerc Death: Did Marc-André Leclerc Die?

Yes, Marc Andre Leclerc died, but the rescuers never recovered his body. In March 2018, Ryan Johnson and Marc-André Leclerc finalized ascending the Mendenhall Tower’s North face in Alaska. Marc Andre Leclerc’s death was tragic to the entire climbing community.

No one had ever climbed it before, and these two excellent climbers told their friends about their attempt and were uploading views from the wall’s peak on Instagram. 

They began on the East Ridge when it was time to come down, which required rappelling down to the fourth turret.

When family and friends saw that they hadn’t contacted them by March 7, they called the local rescue and search teams, who began their search on March 8.

Unfortunately, these teams were set back until the 13th of March due to the harsh weather conditions. Similarly, their bodies were never found. 

When Did Marc-André Leclerc Die?

On March 5, 2018, Marc-André Leclerc died alongside his friend Ryan Johnson after climbing a new route on the Mendenhall Towers, Alaska, in an avalanche. 

At What Age Did Marc-André Leclerc Die?

Marc-André Leclerc died at the young age of 25. 

Has Marc-André Leclerc’s Body Been Found?

Two rescue teams on helicopters saw the orange ascending rope that Marc and Ryan Johnson were using.

It was covered with ice and snow in a crevasse on the route on the fourth turret. It is said that an avalanche could have overtaken the pair. 

In addition, a helicopter utilized the Recco mechanism, a harmonic radar mechanism that can spot Recco tags integrated into outdoor gear, electronics, and metal.

The scans revealed that their bodies were buried on the rope’s position, 15 ft beneath the ice and snow. 

These bodies are irrecoverable since it would require a team to dig into the now compacted and harsh snow. Again, digging would affect the snow’s integrity, thus causing an avalanche.

Nevertheless, their bodies might be retrieved in the future. Ryan Johnson and Marc-André passed on March 5, 2018, at 34 and 25 years old, respectively. 

How Did Marc-André Leclerc Die?

The conditions that resulted in their death are pretty unclear, though they’re a few possible scenarios. He and Ryan Johnson made it to the peak and were descending to the mountain’s base.

When rappelling, you have to set up an anchor, and it might be possible that while they were rappelling, the anchor detached. While they were excellent climbers, their climbing gear could have failed. 

Another likelihood is that the rock or ice fell, resulting in them falling. Besides, an avalanche could have buried them.

An avalanche is whereby a weak snow portion falls and causes a giant snow wave to slide down through the terrain.

This way, Ryan and Marc-André could have been overcome, leading to their rope and falling, leaving them covered deep by the snow. 

If you don’t have special climbing protective equipment, it becomes incredibly challenging to survive certain circumstances.

Besides, you’ll also require help from other climbers and ample knowledge. These two climbers were a short distance from where they’d placed their skis and other gear for their descent. 

Where Did Marc-André Leclerc Die?

Marc-André died descending from the Mendenhall Towers, Alaska.

What Mountain Did Marc Andre Leclerc Died Of?

Marc Andre Leclerc died of the mountain Mendenhall Towers in Alaska.

How Did Marc-André Leclerc Get Down from His Solo Climbs?

Leclerc descended from his solo climbs differently, depending on the terrain. On huge rock climbing and mountaineering adventures, there is usually a way to get down via the convenient part of the rock.

On the other hand, he would carry a thin rope on alpine terrain to establish a rappel. 

Typically, it’s best to ascend the steep sections, walk to the delicate areas, and locate the most convenient descend path when alpine climbing. Frequently, it comprises easier descending and several rappels. 

In Patagonia, for example, creating a rappel anchor is challenging; however, some terrain features bolts or ancient pitons for safety.

If there’s no pre-placed equipment, some people either make a V-Thread, by creating a reversed V hole on the ice using an ice screw, then tying the rope on it and rappelling both rope strands. 

Moreover, if there is a reliable rock, you can leave trad equipment on it. When you immediately need to ascend, you can throw your rope over a rock and rappel in a tricky situation. 

Who Was Marc-André Leclerc’s Girlfriend – Brette Harrington?

Marc-André Leclerc and Brette Harrington loved the outdoors. They met when he resided under his pal’s staircase and almost immediately bonded on outdoor days.

By the time Marc-André Leclerc died in Alaska, they had been together for about six years. Therefore, she knew the risks Leclerc was taking every time he climbed a given route.

When Marc Andre and Ryan Johnson got lost, she was part of the rescue team. They went on free solo climbs and alpine climbing in Patagonia together.

After Marc’s death, Brette continued climbing and recently ascended the El Capitan’s El Corazon, a contemporary 3-pitch route. 

How Good Was the Climber Marc-Andre Leclerc?

From the brief research I’ve done – really good. In the trailer for Leclerc’s Documentary “The Alpinist,” Alex Honnold said that what Leclerc was doing was, to an extent, harder than the former world renowned Free Soloing.

– Said Dancai123 on Quora

Marc-André Leclerc Blog and Social Media Profiles

Marc André’s blog is still available online, where he wrote about all his amazing adventures.

Again, on his blog, he wrote about most of his notable ascends and outdoor activities throughout his climbing career, like one solo adventure in Patagonia. 

Additionally, his Instagram account has some fantastic shots of the ascends he managed to complete.

While Marc Andre’s time on earth was short-lived, thanks to the documentary The Alpinist, and the anecdotes and perceptions from his friends and family, we will always remember him.

At his memorial service, the welcoming sign read:

“Live like Marc-André.” 

Related word-class climbers’ bio pages

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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