An Interview with Shaun Parent

by Steve Regenold (VJ7 spring 2000)

Throughout the past 20 years, Shaun Parent has actively developed rock and ice climbing areas in Ontario's Lake Superior region. He has been a key figure in the exploration of Orient Bay, Kama Bay, Ice Station Superior, Paradice, Agawa Canyon, Montreal River, Nipigon and Red Rock, as well as other areas between the Pigeon River and Nipigon, Ontario. On rock, he has contributed to the development the Scenic Bluffs of Thunder Bay, Climbers Cliffs, Pass Lake, Silver Harbor, Squaw Bay, Mt. Helen, Sleeping Giant, Kama Bay, and Dorion Tower. Tirelessly, Shaun continues to explore the northern and eastern shores of Lake Superior for other climbing areas.


(Shaun in alpine form in Peru. Ph: Jim Stanley.)

 Currently, Shaun owns and directs the North of Superior Climbing Company and guides clients both on his native Ontario ice as well as on rock, ice and mountains all over the globe. Additionally, as founder of the "North of Superior Orient Bay Ice Fest," Shaun has been host to the annual ice party for the past 13 years. The unique gathering of ice climbers attracts individuals from all over the Midwest and beyond. With his continual commitment to local rock and ice and an relentless enthusiasm, Shaun has been dubbed by some as the "father" of rock and ice climbing in northern Ontario

Shaun's mountaineering experience includes expeditions in North America, Nepal, India, Peru, and Oman. He has climbed extensively in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru, making a significant first ascent of the "Peruvian-Canadian route" on the steep southwest face of the 5,947 meter Alpamayo in 1988. Additionally, Shaun was in the first ascent parties on the north face of Norbu (5,890 m) in India and the east face of Rasac Cordillera Huayhuash (6,040 m) in Peru.

Not at all ashamed of the limelight, Shaun has been the focus of several television and film documentaries on ice climbing. Some of his most significant appearances include spots on TV Ontario, CBC "Panorama," "On The Road Again," CBC "Let It Snow," TSN "Pumped," Travel Canada, German "Sport Aktiv," and MTV Sports. In print, Shaun has occupied several major North American newspapers and magazines such as Readers Digest Traveler, Canadian Alpine Journal, Canadian Geographic, Rock&Ice, and Eco Traveler.

After all this, Shaun still claims a great "thirst" for further ice development. Beyond the numerous South American lines on his hit list, Parent also looks forward to pulling down at least 60 new ice routes that he estimates still lay untouched in the Superior region.


Steve Regenold: You may love winter more than anyone I know. You spend your winters on Ontario ice and your "summers" in South America to endure yet another cold season. What's the attraction to cold, ice and snow?

Shaun Parent: Most folks think that winters in Peru are like the winters here. Down there, the winter season in the mountains is full of clear, bright days. When I was there before El Nino, we didn't see a cloud for four months. This is the attraction. Landslides, avalanches, and bad weather do not plague you. That is, if you're in the mountains.

My overall attraction to the winter comes from working as a geophysicist in the mid-1970s and early 1980s in northern Canada. We'd visit the region when the lakes and rivers were frozen so it was easier to travel and work. We would camp out in the bush from January through to April, and after five years, I suppose I was accustomed to it. Summers are nice if you are on the beach, but in the bush, it's sweaty. There are bugs, rain, wet...