Routes by COE Guides

We have completed well over 100 new routes in the Canadian Rockies, mostly along the largely undeveloped David Thompson Corridor. These routes range from short sport climbs to thousand meter winter alpine routes. A summary of these routes along the Corridor can be found below along with a growing list of route descriptions and beta.

Rock first ascents on David Thompson Highway

Rock Routes

With 20 crags and over 100 routes, the David Thompson Highway is quickly becoming a rock climbing area well worth visiting. Except for a dozen or so routes and some older trad climbs, all other routes in the area were established by COE guides and instructors. The selection includes both single pitch and multipitch routes on quartzite and limestone with grades from 5.5 to 5.12.

Ice Routes

Hosers of Darkness (V, WI5R/X, M6+, 220m) - FA: J. Mills, Brent Young – Mar ‘08
This route can been seen from the road on the East face of an unnamed peak between Mt. Wilson and Mt. Cline. It goes up the obvious gash above the largest avalanche cone. It is an excellent route and highly recommended for those looking for something with an alpine feel.
There is major avalanche, cornice, and rock fall hazard on this route. All 3 were encountered on the first attempt, despite conditions being quite good in the general area. Choose your day (or better yet, night) wisely and expect some spindrift.
GEAR: 5-6 screws, mostly stubbies; 1 set cams to #3 Camalot, 1 set nuts, 6-8 assorted pins including KB’s, Spectre. Virtually all pro is in the rock.
APPROACH: Park at Thompson Creek, 10 minutes east of the Banff Park boundary on the David Thompson Highway. Ski or snowshoe up the east side of the creek for about 1km until the creek forks, watch closely as this can be easy to miss. Follow the Left (West) fork for about 1 hour to the base of a large avalanche path on your left. The route is easily visible above this path.
ROUTE: The climb follows the obvious gully from bottom to top.
P1: (WI3R, 60m) Up thin ice and steep snow to a fixed nut belay on the left at 60m.
P2: (WI4R, 40m) A steep and thin start leads to easier but climbing. Somehow get a belay on the thin ice or rotten rock at a snow ledge.
P3: (WI5R, 30m) Low angle detached ice leads to an 8 meter section of slightly overhanging rotten ice. Belay on the snow ledge above, with a rock anchor (fixed nut + pin) on left.
P4: (WI 5, M6+, 60m) A fantastic pitch. Pull through a couple body lengths of overhanging rock with good gear (including a fixed pin) onto the thin, broken curtain above. Wrestle in some rock gear above then continue up past a fixed pin to a belay at the end of the real climbing. Fixed nut.
P5: (WI3, 30m) Romp up the final 30m of snow and rambly ice if you feel so inclined.
DESCENT: Rap the route quickly, plan on leaving some nuts or pins behind to supplement the fixed gear.
Picture 1 Picture 2

No More Pencils, No More Books (III, W5+, 100m) - FA: J. Mills, Mike Adolph, Marcel P, Dave K., Monty A., Dec 14, 2003.
An east facing climb located on the next ridge east of Mt. Wilson. It has only formed once completely but if it's there it is visible from a straight stretch of highway just east of the park boundary. Park a km or so east of the last BNP signs and bushwack for about an hour and a half getting occasional glimpes of the route. A long steep first pitch leads to an easier top out. Rappel the route or walk down the ridge to the highway.

Bad Luck and Good Dreams (M6+) - FA: Mike Adolph, Marcel P.
A nice bolted mixed variation to the first pitch of Good Luck and Bad Dreams. Obvious on the rock behind 1st pitch.

In the mixed guidebook but first ascentionist(Mike A.) added bolts to crux. Gear still needed lower down. Crux formed one year as a W4+ pillar and saw many ascents

Nightmare on Sesame Street (M6+) - FA: J. Mills, Mike Adolph, Brad Boychuck.
A bolted mixed line on left edge of Nightmare on Elm Street(WI3) at the Cline River 1/2km downstream from the Gallery.

New Ice Routes near Nordegg Cool Climbing (V, M4X, W4+R) - FA: J. Mills, Mike Adolph, Nov 2002
This is a sustained ice route high in the alpine that involves lots of thin ice and run-out mixed climbing. The approach and route suffer from very high avalanche hazard during high snowfall so chose your day wisely! The route rarely forms but when it does it is usually early season.
APPROACH: Park as for the ice climb “C’est la Vie” which is the middle of the three prominent gullies through the lower tier of Mt. Elliot.
THE CLIMB: Begin by climbing all the gully pitches of “C’est la Vie” then head straight up the snow slopes above to the base of a prominent thin ice line. Head straight up the ice for a few pitches until it splits. Follow the right hand line with occasional forays onto the rock. The odd fixed station (pins and nuts) will be encountered. The route so far has not been pushed past where the ice stops but looks reasonable if the rock is dry.
DESCENT: Rappel on pins (bring lots) and v-threads or push on to the top and descend snow slopes on back side.
Picture 1 Picture 2

Ninja Van (III W5, 110m ice) - FA: J. Mills - Nov 15, '05
This route is found on Mount Wilson quite a ways Right of Oh La Tabernac. It is below the left side of the large wide quartzite cliff that makes up the east end of the mountain. There are actually up to 4 unclimbed routes that form here, this is the most leftwards, biggest, and highest of them. Big avalanche terrain so heads up.
PARK: At a faint cutline a couple minutes down the David Thompson hwy #11.
APPROACH: Follow the cutline to its end then a faint trail on the right side of a drainage. Once the trail end all too soon, bushwack to the base of the gully(1.5hrs)
ROUTE: Head up the gully over a couple of short easy ice steps which are probably covered in snow later in the season. After a couple hundred meters of snow a 10m W2 step leads to more snow ant then a 40m W2 step. More tedious snow leads to the reason for walking so far. Climb 35m of mushrooms followed by a beautifull 30m crux pillar.
Rap and downclimb the route.

Notorious B.G.G. (Billy Goats Gruff) (III 90m WI4) - FA: J. Mills, Brad Boychuck - Nov 19, '05
Located to the right of Cadeau Cache and Damocales in a bowl feature. This is the fattest line of ice on the Left. Another thinner line was formed about 30m right but warming temps forced us to run away.
APPROACH: As for Cadeau Cache but stay lower and traverse farther right to the major bowl with ice in it. You could probably climb straight up to the route from the highway with some rock gear.
ROUTE: Climb 65m of low angle but thin ice to the base of a steeper curtain. Either climb the curtain or the slightly harder pillar on the left. On FA there was no ice on top so I placed some rock directionals (pins and large nut) and traversed left to a tree belay.
Walk off or rappel.

Take 'er as She Comes - (II W4, 35m) - FA: J. Mills, Brent Young - Dec 4, '05
The left hand line when looking up from the creek.  A short, steep, pillar in a corner. 
APPROACH: Park at Allstones Creek trailhead (signed) about 10 minutes west of Nordegg.  Hike up the creek (NOT the trail) for about 2.5 hours untill two climbs are obvious on your left about 100m apart.  Not worth it, unless you like long walks up creek beds.  There are a couple more unclimbed lines up this valley but nothing to get excited about. Picture

And Like It! (II W2/3, 70m) - FA: J. Mills, Brent Young - Dec 4, '05
The right hand line beside "Take er as She Comes", a bit thin at the bottom but low angle. Picture

Pleasant Falls (II W4, 60m+) - FA: J. Mills - Dec, '05 A pleasant but long approach up a canyon and gully then a short pillar leading to rambly ice. This route is found way up the first valley/gully to the west of the prominent ridge(the Shoulder Route, described below) on Mt. Abraham, about 25 minutes West of Nordegg. It is on the left wall partway up the long straight couloir that most climbers would recognize as the obvious descent from the summit of the mountain. It is NOT the ice visible from the road which is actually only about 45 degrees, this route is lower in the gully.
APPROACH: Hike up the creek bed past some easy steps of ice to the base of the route which is hidden until almost below it. 1.5 - 2 hours.
ROUTE: A short but very akward and steep pillar leads to rambling ice above

Shades of Ugly (III WI4, 60m)) - FA: J. Mills - Nov 11, 06Two pitches of thick plastic ice high above the Malign Lake road by Jasper. It's not actualy ugly, it's just the only Jasper climb other than Shades of Beauty that was in at the time of the FA.
APPROACH: Park at the Watchtower parking lot (signed) along the Malign lake road and walk a couple hundred meters further along the road. A canyon should be visible up through the trees. Bushwack to the canyon (15min) then hike up the canyon passing one steep section on the left. It might be easier to just hike through trees on the left or right of the canyon. Above the canyon continue up the drainage until encountering the climb on you left. About 1 and a half hours from the car.
ROUTE: The route consists of two 30m tiers of good ice with a short bit of snow in between. The second pitch is a bit harder than the first and has a steep section at the top.
DESCENT: Rap the top pitch on a V-thread then either walk off or rap the bottom pitch. Picture 1 Picture 2


This is not a complete list of routes in the David Thompson Corridor although it is getting close. Many more easier routes and scrambles exist.

Click on a peak for info about the peak and route descriptions, peaks are listed from Nordegg to the Crossing:

Other Routes

Whitegoat peaks - All three summits have been reached, a somewhat technical route up the coulior on the right hand peak has also been climbed.

Excoelis - various srambles and mini alpine rock routes have been done on this cluster of peaks above Siffleur Falls.

Allstones Creek - All the peaks around Allstones Creek have been scrambled up with little difficulty.

BATUS - A high peak left of Littlehorn Pass has been climbed right up the middle with little difficulty.

Windy Point - The three peaks on the ridge above Windy Point are all popular scrambles. (Lookout, Buckle, Talus).

Vision Quest - Above the Waste Transfer Site, a popular ridge hike, reaching the actual summit is a long day with some tricky climbing near the end. Most people tell themselves one of the earlier sub-summits is the top.

Stelfox - Above DTR - has a few long scramble routes.

William Booth - The traverse of this long ridge is a nice 1 or 2 day outing.

Other - numerous unnamed peaks have been climbed throughout the corridor with little difficulty. The COE guides are probably the most knowledgable about what has and has not been climbed.

<--Back to COE.CA
For more information about our programs please contact us:
COE, Box 7, Nordegg, Alberta, T0M 2H0
Phone: (403) 721-2208 Fax:  1-888-314-3690