/ Canadian Rockies - Banff & Jasper - low grade climbing

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nameless_rob on 13 Sep 2012
Hi all,

My GF and I are heading off to western Canada at the end of the month, aim to spend around 9 days in Banff & Jasper parks. The plan is to do an easy 2-3 day trek, some scrambles, some tourist stuff, but would also be keen to do a bit of cragging/easy multipitch (preferably bolted to save luggage weight) - we're currently happy to lead Sev / 2nd VS (so 5.5-5.7 ??).

So... any recommendations where to head go? I've read that 'back of the lake' is good, but touristy - something a bit more secluded might be good.

Also, what rope length & type is usually needed out there? I have a 60m half, so need to buy something new whether we need a single or halves.

Thanks, any help much appreciated!
nameless_rob on 13 Sep 2012
In reply to nameless_rob:
Bump for the evening crowd
maria85 - on 13 Sep 2012
In reply to nameless_rob:
If you're just planning on cragging, a 60m single will be fine for the majority of routes. There's not too many that need a 70m.

Venues - if you're around Banff, I'd head to Canmore for the easier sport climbing. Grassi Lakes has some good easy stuff (think giant limestone pockets), plus a couple of VERY well bolted 5.10's (around HVS, but super safe and juggy) if you're wanting to up the grade a bit. Look for the 'Golf Course' area and Gardener's Wall. Also Wasootch Creek towards Calgary a bit (in Kananaskis Country) has loads of easy stuff, some of the bolts are a bit spread out though on the easier routes, could be worth taking a cut down rack there too. Cougar Canyon in Canmore also (cool area too, nice walk up a creek).
Just off HW1 before you get to Canmore (from Calgary) is Kid Goat - some bolted multi-pitch, some requiring gear.

In Banff, the back side of Tunnel Mountain has some easier stuff, single and multi-pitch. If you end up taking gear, 'Gooseberry' is a multipitch 5.7 on there, partly bolted, bolted belays.

Most of the easy (5.4 - 5.7) multipitch climbing tends to be trad or mostly trad.

Back of the Lake in Lake Louise is good, again some trad, some bolted, some easier stuff there. Does tend to get busy, but then so do many areas. Quartzite (kind of like climbing on frictionless grit!) unlike most of the Rockies which is limestone.

Don't know Jasper area as well, but there is definitely some easier bolted stuff around up there.

For guidebooks, 'Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies' covers Canmore/Banff/Lake Louise areas, including the trad routes where these are interspersed with bolted routes. There are a few topos (eg. Kid Goat) here: http://www.banffrock.ca/indexBVR_guidebook.html - the Bow Valley Rock guidebook (trad but includes the bolted routes in predominantly trad areas) is out of print but pdf's are on this site. 'Banff Rock' has just been reprinted, not sure exactly what that contains now.
There is also a book called 'Canadian Rock - Select Climbs of the west' that is lovely and very easy to use, covers areas like Squamish, Skaha etc too if you ever head further west - very select though. IIRC it covers Grassi Lakes, Back of the Lake, some stuff near Jasper (?). Sorry my copy in still in Canada else I would look for you.

Seeing as you're going at the end of Sept, be aware that for scrambling many of the peaks will have at least a dusting of snow by that time, it has snowed there up high already.

Have fun, it's an amazing area.
maria85 - on 13 Sep 2012
In reply to maria85:
A list of what's in Canadian Rock is here: http://www.highcol.ca/downloads/preview-canadian-rock.pdf - although the guide isn't a comprehensive list of everything at all of those crags, just the best areas.
nameless_rob on 13 Sep 2012
In reply to maria85:

Wow, thanks!
Have ordered 'Sports climbs in the Rockies', now I just need to work out if my luggage allowance will stretch to taking gear (I guess just a set of nuts is better than nothing on run out sports routes).
marvin1987 - on 14 Sep 2012
In reply to nameless_rob: Kid Goat is really good. Greywaves 5.8 and Keelhaul Wall 5.6 were two enjoyable short multi pitches. Wasootch slabs is okay, but like Grassi Lakes can get very busy!. A group of us attempted Chinamans Peak, overlooking Canmore in July aswell. Led pitches up and had to ab off due to several inconsiderate groups above us kicking all matter of crap off the rock face and tumbling down on us. Hoping to give it another go before I leave Canada in November.
marvin1987 - on 14 Sep 2012
In reply to marvin1987: Led 4 pitches up*

maria85 - on 14 Sep 2012
In reply to nameless_rob:
I totally forgot, check out Sunshine Slab in Banff, at the base of the access road to Sunshine Village ski area. Lots of new routes there, 95% bolted, it's in the sports climb book - may be a few routes missing depending on which edition you bought. Less busy and much less polished than Wasootch.

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