Routes we have done and for which we have a trip report and photos are shown with red triangles and labeled in red on the map below. Click on any of those for trip reports and photographs.
To assist climbers in evaluating conditions, the map also provides links to weather forecasts , and near-live photographs from various web-cams around the region.
We arrive in Canmore on July 4th after an exciting border crossing and a stop in Rossland and Nelson. Canmore is one of favorite towns anywhere. We spent the entire ice season here last winter so it feels a lot like home. We're having mixed feelings though - in summer the place is overtaken by tourists and the weather so far has been rainy and cloudy. After spending a week watching the rain fall and doing lots of yoga, the weather finally clears up. Here is our first opportunity to climb. The North faces are not in good shape, so it will have to be alpine rock.
We've never climbed any rock in the Canadian Rockies but we've heard plenty of horror stories. The limestome in these great looking mountains is not exactly sound...Anyway, we decide to start with an easy moderate on Yamnuska, the major multi-pitch destination in the Bow Valley. Direttissima is a nine-pitch, 5.8 line in the middle of the cliff. We're not very impressed with the climb at first (we're fresh from the amazing rock of Lovers' Leap, CA), but looking back now, and after experiencing a lot more of Canada's "world class choss", it was a pretty nice climb. The Yam kind of grows on you...
We then climb the Gmoser Route , a long, 17-pitch on Mt Louis. Mt Louis is a local's favorite - an impressive, craggy peak but the rock (we thought) leaves something to be desired.
Next on the list is Super Brewers on Castle Mountain. This route links "Ultra Brewer" with "Brewer Buttress" for a great 22 pitch line to the summit plateau. A good climb with very enjoyable climbing if you can stomach the disgusting first four pitches.
After this, we get into a period of remarkably sunny and very hot weather. Way too warm for any North Face snow and ice route. We decide to leave Canmore to go try our luck in the Bugaboos. We've never been there before so it should be a treat, assuming the weather cooperates...
After a few days of waiting for a high pressure system in Invermere, we head toward the Applebee Campground. What a place! Great postion in the center of a cirque, and amazing views in all directions! During our first stay there, we climb the North-East Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, and Mc Tech Arete on Crescent Spire.
After four days, we're out of food and we go back down to town for a couple of days, leaving most of our gear at camp. We're back two days later with another four-day food supply. This time around, we climb Surf's Up and Sunshine Crack on Snowpatch, and Paddle Flake Direct on Crescent Spire.
We've been lucky with the weather so far, but when we come back to Invermere, a low pressure system moves in. We spend a week watching the rain fall on and off and use the time off to work on the website.
August 8, 2004: The weather is finally supposed to improve. By early afternoon, we're on the road to Golden and Glacier National Park. A couple of days later, we climb the striking Northwest Ridge of Mount Sir Donald, car to car in a long day. Cannot say we really enjoyed that climb so much: the ridge is 2500 vertical feet of pretty monotonous class 4 climbing. The rock is good but the climbing lacks variety, and the ridge is not quite as sharp as it looks from the road. The descent is long and complex. We were pretty beat by the time we get back to the car!
After a bit of rest, we move to Lake Louise. The weather is expected to hold for a few more days so we're planning to attempt the East Ridge of Mt Temple. On August 12, we get around to climb it in a day. A very enjoyable climb! Lots of variety, fun route finding, a few good pitches of 5th class, and a spectacular ridge finish! A complete alpine climbig experience! The descent down the casual tourist trail makes it a fairly easy day too.
After another couple of days watching the weather, we get a break and climb the Grand Sentinel, an amazing quartzite spire just below Mount Temple. We were hoping to try both the Regular Route and "Cardiac Arete" but it starts raining hard right as we finish the rappels off the Regular Route.
Back in Canmore, we wait several days for another sunny day, but it simply won't happen... It seems like summer ended abruptly five days ago (as we were to find out later, it really did). Temperatures suddenly dropped on August 20 and it's been raining on and off since (and snowing on the high peaks). I feels like the season is over. We've lost hope that the North Face ice routes will get back in shape before the winter: after weeks of warm weather and severe rock fall, they are now receiving large amounts of snow and are starting to avalanche... too bad. Cannot really complain though, as we enjoyed exceptional conditions on the long alpine rock routes.
On August 25, we leave the Rockies for some sunny cragging at City of Rocks.
Alpine Rock in the Canadian Rockies
|Our "camp" downtown Canmore for a good part of the summer.|
|Yamnuska, the major rock climbing destination in the area.|
|On the approach to Mount Louis.|
|Views from the Gmoser route on Mount Louis.|
|Castle Mountain seen from the Trans-Canadian Highway.|
|The Canadian Pacific railway, with Mount Temple in the background.|
|Views of Mount Temple from Castle Mountain.|
|Descending the wide bowl on the back side of Castle Mountain.|
|Taking a break on the summit of Sir Donald, in Glacier National park.|
|Views from the summit of Sir Donald.|
|Hiking back to the col after climbing the Grand Sentinel (visible behind Lucie).|
|Gorgeous sunrise in the Bugaboos (Bugaboo and Snowpatch Spires).|
|Base camp at Applebee Campground; Snowpatch Spire in the background.|
|The views from camp. It does not get any better than this!|
|The north side of the Howser towers, in the Bugs, as seen from Pigeon Spire.|