Monday, August 11, 2014

The Icefields Parkway

With a lot of hot weather in the forecast for the Banff area it was clear we needed to gain some elevation to beat the heat.  We decided to spend a few days along the Icefields Parkway, to do some things we had scoped out last year during our short drive up to Jasper.

First up was this impressive slabs right beside the highway, just south of the Parker Ridge trailhead.  Last year we hiked up to the base of it and were surprised to discover several bolted lines.  We still didn't have any information about the routes, but decided to give them a go.

We were stoked to discover that one of the lines was bolted all the way to the top.  Below you can barely see Kristal at the end of the last full-length pitch, almost 200 feet above.  The climbing was super fun, with many fun water runnels to climb through.

For those looking for beta, the route is mostly easy 5th class, with maybe a 5.8ish move or two on the first pitch.  It's 4 pitches, about 600 feet long, with an easy walk off down the gully to climber's right.  The anchors are equipped with rap rings, but you would need double ropes to rap the route.

Next up we decided to attempt the South East Ridge of Mount Edith Cavell, an impressive Conrad Cain route with a little bit of everything on it.

The morning views down the parkway were quite impressive.

Here I am channeling Conrad Cain while crossing the snow slope onto the main shoulder of the mountain.

Kristal striking a pose with the glacier in the background.

Sadly, we didn't start out early enough in the morning.  With the upper ridge still ahead of us we decided to turn around.  Neither of us wanted to walk out in the dark.

Next up we decided to check out an obscure bouldering area called the Kingston Slide, consisting of limestone blocks left over from a landslide on Mount Kingston.  One of the few reasons it doesn't see much traffic is that you have to cross the freezing waters of the Sunwapta river only a few kilometers from where it begins at the base of the glacier.

Despite the committing approach, the bouldering area is top notch, and we found many problems that would easily be 3 star problems in any bouldering destination we've been to.

And you just can't beat the setting, with Mount Athabasca and it's glacier looming in the distance.

We found plenty to keep us busy, from burly campus problems...

... to some awesome slabs, and everything in between.

Definitely worth checking out for any boulderers looking for adventure!

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