Type: Trad, 2000 ft, 10 pitches
FA: Paul Stoliker, Dave Clay and Keith Kover. About 1983
Page Views: 18,362 total · 199/month
Shared By: Jordan Ramey on Jun 23, 2011
Admins: Dave Rone, Tom Gnyra

You & This Route

30 Opinions

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Approach: 45 minutes
Climb: 3 - 6 hours
Descent: 1.5 - 3 hours
Car-to-Car: 5 - 9 hours
Sun: late morning through afternoon

Joy follows the incredibly striking right facing dihedral up the Mt. Indefatigable slab for nearly 2000 feet (300m)of climbing! The rock is generally very solid with excellent friction. The numerous small ledges do tend to accumulate rocks, so be wary, especially in early season. There are many very nice belays to choose from on almost every pitch. Some take a 70m rope to reach (or just a bit of simul on easy ground with a 60m). Basically, climb until you hit the end of the rope on every pitch then build a belay at the best spot. A topo is completely unnecessary for this climb, as it's impossible to get lost.

The route difficulty can vary widely from 5.4 to 5.8 depending on the line chosen. The rule of thumb is, if it's hard head horizontally from where you are. The new guidebook Canadian Rock: Select Climbs of the West calls the route 5.8. I'd say that's only true if you stay in the dihedral the entire time and purposefully avoid the slab.

The route is all gear anchors with VERY minimal fixed gear (6 pieces in 10 pitches in summer 2011).

Driving Directions, Approach, & Descent

From Calgary:
Take Kananaskis Trail/AB-40 S for 50.0 km
Turn right onto Smith Dorrien Trail/Hwy 742 for 2.2 km
Slight left onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail for 7.6 km
Turn right to stay on Kananaskis Lakes Trail for 3.6 km
Slight left to stay on Kananaskis Lakes Trail
Park at the Interlakes Parking Area

or Google "Kananaskis Interlakes Campground" and it'll pull up right near the lake parking area.

Hike across the dam and follow the main hikers trail that parallels he lake. Do not go up past the bear closure sign on the summit trail. The approach trail is pretty flat all the way to the scree slope when the route becomes very apparent. Don't follow any smaller offshoot trails that head downhill to the lakeshore, just follow the signs with hiker symbols on them. It's pretty straightforward. 25 minutes to scree slope from car. Head up the scree to the base of the route.

Climb the large dihedral (note the beta photo). If the rock is good, it's the right dihedral. First few hundred feet can be easily walked up / solo'd

From the top of Joy, scramble up the ridge for a little bit until a very nice looking scree area presents itself on the east (climbers right). Drop onto that faint trail and follow it up on the east side of the ridge to get around the super steep gully. There is one short section of 4th class near the top marked by a HUGE cairn. From here there are two options.

Option 1: curve around the gully and proceed down the best looking scree gully, about the 3rd one. Follow this all the way back down to the trail. Be careful of sending rocks onto your partner. It's not nearly as casual as the Yam Scree Ski, but not bad.

Option 2: traverse alpine meadows across a small ridge and up onto the main hikers summit trail on the next ridge. Be very bear wary since this trail is decommissioned due to grizzly activity. Follow the donkey trail back down to the parking lot.


Double set of cams from tiny to #1 red camalot (2"), single #2 yellow camalot (2.5"), a couple nuts, and a couple extra finger sized cams are nice depending on comfort level (0.3-0.75 camalots being the most useful). Slings.

Basically the route eats #0.3 - #0.75 cams and the rest is necessary here and there.
Brad Warne
Calgary, Alberta
Brad Warne   Calgary, Alberta
Just did the route for a second time. This time we picked the 3rd descent gully (previously did the 2nd). The 3rd is the way to go! From the time we packed up all the gear and started down, to the time back to the car was 1/2hr. Definitely the best option Oct 19, 2015
Climbed the route last week, fantastic line with great exposure.

Gear recommendation was pretty on point. Although, if you bring triples of anything, extra 0.3-0.5 cams would have been nice to have. I'd recommend some tricams (pink/red) if you have em, I think I placed one on every pitch

In addition to the standard rockies choss, noticed some loose microwave-sized blocks ~100ft from the finish as the slab narrows for the last time.

We saw a big friendly grizzly right as we left the parking lot as we finished. Definitely take bear spray for the approach, even though it is short!

Happy climbing Jun 28, 2016
David Kay  
This was a super fun route and I highly recommend the climb! We climbed it on Sunday July 10th 2016.

I will note it took much longer than expected(11 hours car to car) due to running out of gear before stretching my full 70m rope which caused me to make this about 14 pitches. Ive been climbing for 12 years but only recently started doing multi pitch.(About 20 multi pitch routes life to date)

Gear: Three micro cams, Three .3 camlots, doubles of .4 to #2 camlot and a set of nuts. I recommend bringing enough runners for each placement to save some major rope drag.

This climb eats .3's all day long. Next time I will bring triples of .3 to .5 along with doubles up to #2 again+nuts+micro's. The route had old rusted fixed pins about every 120 ft or so in the dihedral.

Alarm to base of climb:
My partner and I woke up 4am sharp at the Alpine Club of Canada Hostel in Canmore AB. It was about an hour and a half drive to get to the trail head. Once you get to the GPS location of the campground veer left and uphill for the lake parking area because going right will just take you around the camping loop. Start by walking towards then over the small dam and take the main(upper) trail past 2 benches. The hike is pretty easy with a little up and down but only took us about 25 minutes to the scree slope then another 15 minutes walking to the base. The woods will clear and you will see the obvious mountain on your right. We dropped our bag here to avoid climbing the scree slope for a second time which was definitely worth it.

The Climb:
The first 150ft was very easy and we climbed it in hiking shoes. I'm sure most people solo up to 300 ft or more but we were taking it safe.

The first 400 ft was low angle and more of a technical hike. I wandered on the face a coupe times for some very easy climbing. The dihedral produces a beautiful finger seam making it always easy to build an anchor as long as you have .3 through.5 camlots.

We thought we were "almost there" twice but then when we were able to see higher we could see the slab continued on. Stay close to the dihedral until the very top. Once coming over the top there is a good place to sit and belay. I found the scree trail to the right a little sketchy feeling because of so much loose rock. Decided to walk it still on belay, placing a couple pieces of gear and make one more anchor. When I do this again with my girl i'm going to build an anchor at the top of the 4th class to make it a little more safe for her.

We followed the trail down the first meadow immediately after the 4th class instead of going up and over another ridge. This was not the right one per the guide and ended up walking through the woods a few times. It was not a horrible decent but there was not much of a trail so i'm sure the other ways are better.

Jul 21, 2016
Nkane 1
Berkeley, CA
  5.8 PG13
Nkane 1   Berkeley, CA
  5.8 PG13
There is some loose rock, especially out on the face. I found a 5.8 crux in corner. There's potential for an easier line out right but you're soloing choss. After topping out, look for a faint trail right of the ridge, then climb the 4th class step and head down and right to gully #3.

The actual climbing is low angle and somewhat repetitive. However, the position, length, and views are unbeatable. Not to mention that you are climbing a single feature for 2000 feet: a joint between layers of limestone laid down on a seabed millions of years ago and hundreds of thousands of years apart, then lifted and tilted 45 degrees as one unit. The stark confrontation with geologic time is unparalleled on any route I've done.

If you let parties pass you, though, you may have a stark confrontation with the geologic present. Get there early. Jul 9, 2018
Paul Stoliker
Canmore, AB
Paul Stoliker   Canmore, AB
The first ascent of JOY is probably the ascent we (Paul Stoliker, Dave Clay and Keith Kover) did in about 1983. We found no fixed gear on the route and have not talked to anyone else that did it before us. We called the route "Only 2 hours" based on my terrible estimate of the time I thought we would need to do the climb. We far prefer the suitable and now accepted name "Joy".

I climbed JOY for a second time on August 9, 2018. I confirm that the climb is about 8 to 12 pitches (depending on if you scramble the first easy 100m, and how long you make the pitches) and the grade is no more than 5.5 except for a few moves of 5.6 on a couple of the pitches. There are two obvious places of about 20m each where, instead of climbing the corner, you can climb easy cracks on the slab. This is recommended.

To descend I recommend, instead of climbing up the exposed ridge, move north (right) and down slightly for about 5m to a fixed piton then contour right about 10m over exposed 4th class rock to easy ground and a good belay crack. Unrope and follow a rough trail (below the rocky ridge on your left) over broken ground to grassy slopes. Follow the second major gully down grassy slopes and a faint trail to the major trail at the top of cliffs above Lower Kananaskis Lake."

JOY eats small cams. There is absolutely no need to place belay bolts on this climb. There are convenient belay stances with excellent cracks for cam or nut placements in many places on the route. We found one bolt anchor that has, fortunately, been removed. Please leave JOY in its natural state for others to enjoy. Aug 10, 2018
Will Bland
Halifax, NS
Will Bland   Halifax, NS  
Climbed this route a few days ago. To descend, we scrambled over the exposed ridge climbers left to gain the alpine meadow. Felt pretty sketchy.

Wondering what the alternative is? On climbers right after topping out the slab, there was a trail that followed the edge. Did we miss a trail down into that scree gully? Was there an alternative to going over the exposed scrambling ridge climbers left? Aug 19, 2018