Best of the Best
Kananaskis Country extends along the eastern fringe of the Canadian Rockies,
south of the Bow Valley. Unlike the climbing in the Bow Valley which is
mostly in canyons, the climbing in Kananaskis is generally on the many
cliffs on the foothills of the Rockies. The bluffs are not as steep or
pocketed, and the climbing tends to be more technical than strenuous.
of the crags offer primarily single pitch routes, though Yamnuska, the
first major wall seen driving west from Calgary has a number of outstanding
multi-pitch routes of a few hundred metres.
Most of the crags
in K-country are accessed from highway 40. Yamnuska, Kid Goat and Nanny
Goat, on the north side of the Bow Valley, are accessed from highway 1A.
Moose Mountain, Prairie Creek and White Buddha are all accessed from highway
66 (the Bragg Creek road). Burstall Slabs is on Spray Lakes Road between
the Kananskis highway (40) and Canmore.
The crags in Kananaskis
are among the best early and late season crags. Although they are subject
to the same unpredictable weather patterns as the rest of the Rockies,
it is often possible to start climbing in early April, as soon as the
snow melts enough to make the approaches reasonable. Barrier in particular
is one of the best early season crags.
for itís many excellent multi-pitch routes, the 500 metre south
facing wall of Yamnuska has been one of the hot spots of climbing
activity for many years. Note that the climbs on Yam are not sport
routes, they are long, serious climbs. Due to rock fall hazard a
helmet is strongly advised on Yamnuska.
and Nanny Goat
on the southeast face of Goat Mountain, both offering a number of
decent climbs at a moderate grade. Note that for Nanny Goat some
gear is required for most of the climbs.
One of the
larger Kananaskis crags, with well over 100 routes. The north end
of the cliff has a number of 2 to 4 pitch gear routes, most at a
moderate grade. The south end of the crag is mostly sport, offering
a number of great climbs in the 5.9 to 5.12 range. Barrier is one
of the best crags in the early season, and occasionally escapes
the afternoon showers which plague the mountains in the early summer.
amongst the limestone crags of the Rockies, Cowbell Crag is on a
conglomerate bluff 10 km north of Highwood Junction. The crag is
characterized by thin to medium sized cracks, and nearly all of
the climbs require gear. The grades are generally 5.10 and below.
the 40 minute approach. Steep, featured limestone cliffs look down
on Prairie Creek flowing through the valley bottom. Most of the
good climbs are 5.11 and above. Because it faces north and often
gets a breeze, Prairie is a good place for hot days.
crag one valley south of Prairie creek. Park in the parking lot
just past the Prairie Creek pullout and head up the dirt road for
a couple kilometres, then head up the steep hill to the north to
reach the cliff. The problems do not generally top out, but finish
at a line of huge jugs half way up the cliff. A number of problems
from V1 to V7.