Bow Valley Rock Climbing
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|Shared By:||Sandro on Dec 4, 2006|
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For the trad, as the Bugs are so close, most true alpinists will spend some time there. The trad lines in the rockies tend to be chossy and scary at times but the use of modern bolting has made it quite safe on most rock types. The crown jewel of trad climbing, Yamnuska, is a venue where you can try old-school hard-man routes or new gen 'modern' routes that are complete with many bolts on the blank limestone sections. Other worthy Alpine routes will sure include Mt. Lockheed, the Ship's Prow, Mt. Temple (Banff), Sir Douglas, Edith Cavell (Jasper) the Rundle Traverse (Some in Banff), The Fold and Joy (Kananaskis), to name a couple.
You may have heard that there are giant sport climbing routes, too. Among them, Sisyphus Summits 10d 500m is the biggest to date and was established with some controversy. It resides on Ha Ling, the prominence attached to Mt Lawrence Grassi. There is also 200m-400m+ lines on EEOR, Guides Rock (Cory, in Banff), Nanny Goat, Kid Goat, Canmore Wall and Bourgeau (Banff).
If you are looking to pull down without the risk of rockfall and prefer short routes, look no further to the array of sport climbing found in most drainages, cliff bands or canyons. Cougar Canyon, Heart Canyon, Barrier Bluffs, Grassi Lakes and Grotto Canyon all host a good mix of hard and easy routes for those who are starting or getting better.
Acephale, Planet X (Cougar), Echo and Bataan all have a harder mix of climbing that requires at least 10a climbing to have fun (11+ at Acephale) but all host incredible stone. You can also find a number of less travelled areas such as Carrot Creek or Raven's Crag which both have excellent climbing and provide some relief in the busy months.
The rock season is short (April-October) in most years, but fortunately the Bow Valley also has world-class ice climbing in the winter. Some ice climbs begin forming as early as October and the ice season can last well into April if the temperature is cool up high (more so in the parks). For a more detailed look at conditions, consult Will Gadd's website: Grav Sports Ice Forum
There are many guidebooks on any type of adventure, be it alpine, trad, sport or ice/mixed, you can find what you desire in each book (see guidebook section).
There are a few ways, other than driving, to get to Canmore if you decide to take that route. Generally, however, the climbing will require some amount of driving so be prepared to make plans if you come unassisted.
FlyingYou can easily fly into the Calgary international airport and take a bus to Canmore that drops you off in downtown. From there, taxi services will take you anywhere in town and the town is quite small. Accommodations can be found in the large hotel chains on Bow Valley trail (the north side road in relation to the tracks).
Another option for lodging is to stay at the Alpine Club hut which is open to the public at $36 for non members or $25 for members per night. There is a kitchen and rooms and it is very cozy. Plus, there are a ton of historical things and guidebooks if you have a day off and want to browse the library.
CampingMost camping can be found online and most of it is about $26 a night. There is a selection depending on which objectives you would want to do (think: sport climbing vs. alpine).
The ghost used to have free camping options but now that has changed. Make sure to do research before camping there and take a car that can take abuse and has a winch.
Car campingAs the van life seems to be pretty abundant in Canmore, it seems that as long as you don't have a brand new RV you can get by with parking on roads that get low usage to sleep. Which roads exactly I won't say as there aren't any that are 'car camping' approved by our city but generally those which have a lot of parking, businesses that aren't chains and don't need parking lots (not car garages for example) and don't stick out like sore thumbs. Ask other climbers (you can meet them at Elevation place on rainy days or Beamers'/Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. in the mornings).
Do not park where it says no overnight parking! Why? That means they know people like to park there overnight. Ipso Facto, they patrol.
Guidebooks for the area
All these guidebooks are available online, at MEC, Valhalla, Vertical Addiction, Cafe books (great book store) and some other small store.
Bow Valley Sport (2010)BVS
Incredible amount of hard and easy sport climbs documented in full color pictures, no hand drawn topos and great directions. Tick list galore and very well done. Comes highly recommended. Can be bought online or even in online version through the author.
As low as $10 (online version) for all the sport climbing you will need all season!
Canmore Sport Climbs (2005)CSP
Another good guidebook, albeit no photos. The hand drawn topos are really good and this is a inexpensive guide to Grassi Lakes, EEOR and Ha ling. Currently the only book that has has the sport climbs on EEOR and Ha Ling in print. Buy this guide if you've only got 2 days in the valley and want to try some awesome sport multipitch. Currently $3.03 on google play!
Bouldering Canadian Rockies (2003)Bouldering
Like bouldering? Living in a choss pile? You can still boulder out here, even though all the alpine climbers will look down on you. Literally. But who cares, they don't pull V10. This is a great guidebook for lots of good bouldering. Lots more to be developed still (obviously) but this is a good start.
Yamnuska Climbing (2016)123456123
The Yam is a beautiful and scary place. There are some good, classic and loose routes all over this jewel and people climb here all the time. Go climb there, and do yourself a favour and get this book.
Sport Climbing in the Canadian Rockies (2016)Sport climbing 7th
The new guidebook is the newest edition from J. Jones and J. Martin. Very nice book that explores most routes in the rockies.
Banff Rock (2012)Banff Rock
An incredible guidebook to everything inside the park. I don't think anything is more than 2h driving but some is quite obscure. Very good book and great author (who develops) makes for a very informative guidebook. The price is fair and it is full color with mostly photos, some hand drawn topos.
Ice Lines (2014)ice lines
Your guide to a hundred or so, four star, beastly waterfalls and drainages that ice up ever year. A beautiful guidebook that is at home on any coffee table or in any pack.
The tabvar site is your organization for bolting, safety, partnership and rock climbing culture. They are the ones who pay for the bolts you clip. Yes, they pay for them. Send them some love, donate or be kind.
A project by Greg Cornell which is documenting lots of cool lines in the rockies. Keep it up Greg!
Banff Rock old guidebook
Chris Perry's personal website hosts his old guidebook and lots of beautiful routes that you may consider doing (lots of unrepeated and alpine ones too)
Grav sports ice
Will Gadd's personal forum. read the rules and find what you want to climb this weekend. Great sharing site.
Check this to make sure you don't get destroyed by an avy this weekend as you are often under huge bowls of snow (think: cascade falls, for example)
Generally a good place to get more beta/info on climbs due to the fact that Dow W. is very active on this website and has climb most of the classic routes in the Valley
Classic Climbing Routes at Bow Valley
Days w Precip