OverviewThe Boulder Gardens are a series of short limestone boulders perched on a bench overlooking the Athabasca River. The Crispy Crunch Boulder faces south and gets great sun in the morning to late afternoon; the Centre Stone faces north and can be cold. As the temperatures warm up in the spring, this is one of the first places that you can climb in the Jasper area, but there are really only a few of the climbs that get the sun (the ones on the Crispy Crunch Boulder), so there’s not lots to do. The Juno Wall is a better bet for early season climbing, but it’s further from Jasper with a longer approach.
All of the climbs at the Boulder Gardens are very short (7-10 metres) and tend to be steep and strenuous. Many a solid 5.10 leader has been spit off of “American Justice”. You can set up top-ropes on many of these climbs, but be careful, because the anchors are set right at the cliff edge. The majority of the routes have rap or chain anchors, and all have alternate scramble descents.
I have rated the quality of the climb using a star system. Admittedly, this is a subjective system; however, having climbed here lots, you get a very good sense of which climbs are popular and which are not, and if you’re only here for a short time, it’s nice to have some sort of guidance around which are the quality climbs. Having said that, every climber is biased toward his/her strengths, so take the ratings with a grain of salt. Here’s a rough guide to my star system:
No stars – A route that rarely gets down – not worth doing if you are only here for a limited amount of time.
One star – A route that gets some traffic from time to time, but is the kind of route that you maybe climb once, but don’t come back to it again.
Two stars – A moderately popular route that gets a fair amount of traffic. Worth doing more than once.
Three stars – The very popular routes that are regularly climbed and among the best the crag has to offer. Fun moves on good clean rock.
Four stars – These are the absolute classics for the crag and even for the Jasper area. They are very popular, get lots of traffic, and you want to climb them again and again.
Getting ThereFrom Jasper, Alberta, travel east (i.e. toward Edmonton) on Highway 16 about one kilometre east of the east Jasper entrance, and turn right (south) onto the Maligne lake Road (also the turn off to the Jasper Park Lodge). The road immediately crosses the Athabasca River. The road then turns sharply to the left (don’t turn right into the Jasper Park Lodge, until the end of the day when you can have a cold beer at the Lodge). Follow the Maligne road approximately 5 kilometres to a turn off to the “5th Bridge”. Follow this road in about 500 metres to the parking lot.
This map provides information on how to get to the parking area from Jasper.
The ApproachFrom the parking lot, cross the suspension bridge and follow the trail for about 100 metres. On the left there will be a trail branching off the main trail. Turn left and follow this trail for another 100 metres and then take the first right. This trail then steeply climbs up a hill – the trail temporarily becomes quite wide at this point but narrows down again at the top of the steepest section. At the top of this steep section you will encounter some trails coming in from the right – ignore these and continue east. The trail continues to slowly climb through open Douglas-fir forests for another 5 minutes, and then begins to level off. About 100 metres after the trail has levelled off you will come to another fork in the trail – if you turn right here you will be going to the Rock Gardens. Instead, continue on the main trail for another 50 or so metres dropping down over a short hill and looking for the fainter trail turning left. Follow this trail downhill for a few minutes until it starts to turn to the right. Shortly you will come to the obvious “Crispy Crunch Boulder”.
This map provides information on how to get to the crag from the parking area.
The RoutesCrispy Crunch Boulder
1. Hope is Futile 5.10c** (bolts) – This is the first route on the left side of the Crispy Crunch Boulder. Like all the routes on this boulder, it’s short but steep. The route starts above a large hole and has two alternate finishes. It’s best to stick clip the first bolt. (S. Cameron, D. Robinson, 1992)
2. American Heart 5.11a*** (bolts) – The second route from the left and finishes on the same anchors as “Hope is Futile”. It’s a fun, fingery, climb with the crux near the top. (E. Hoogstraten, 1992)
3. American Justice 5.10a** (bolts) – It’s steep and it’s short and it will feel hard for 10a; think of it as an easy boulder problem. (E. Hoogstraten, 1992)
4. Berry Calder is a Big Fat Dufus 5.10a* (bolted) – A similar climb to “American Justice” but with a much longer name. (E. Hoogstraten)
5. The College of the Rookies Couldn’t Run an Outdoor Program if Their Cumulative Lives Depended On it 5.10d* (bolted) – Perhaps the winner of the longest and least likely to become popular route name in North America. This is the furthest route to the right on the Crispy Crunch Boulder. Might as well climb it, and then you can say you’ve done them all. (C. Hoogstraten, E. Hoogstraten, 1991)
The next two climbs are located on a nearby boulder (see topo map)
6. Fuck, I Can’t Clip It 5.10b* (bolts) – Not the most inspiring route name for perspective future ascents. The route can be done a number of ways – to the right, left, or direct. (S. Cameron, 1992)
7. Natural Route 5.4 (gear) – A very short gear route opposite the chimney on Centre Stone. Rarely, if ever, climbed.
8. Centre Stone Chimney 5.5 (mixed) – Climb the chimney or the bolted face to a rap anchor.
9. Virgo 5.11a** (bolts) – A short desperate crimp-fest up the west side of the Centre Stone. (T. Hoover, 1994)
10. Stopper Crack 5.9 (gear) – A short tricky climb in the obvious crack feature near the arête of the Centre Stone. Rarely, if ever, gets climbed. (G. Diduck, 1992)
11. Digital Destruction 5.11a/b** (bolts) – Stick clip the second bolt. The crux is at the very start pulling over the bulge; as the name suggests, it’s hard on the fingers. The rest of the climb is sustained but easier. (G. Diduck, 1992)
12. Fecal Impaction 5.10b** (bolts) – This is one of the more popular routes at the Boulder Gardens. The route is on the north side of the Centre Stone and climbs up through a number of small overlaps. (D. Robinson, 1993)
13. While the City Sleeps 5.10c/11a** (bolts) – Another one of the good routes on the Centre Stone. It starts off thin and sustained and then finishes on bigger holds on steep ground. The technical crux is lower down. Stick clip the first bolt. (D. Robinson, 1993)
The next climb is found on a large outcrop directly adjacent to the Centre Stone (see overview map).
14. Punk Rock Girl 5.10d*** (bolts) – Probably the best route at the Boulder Gardens, but it’s not for free. The start is tricky, but interesting, and the crux is surmounting the top bulge. (G. Diduck, D. Robinson, 1991)
The following link provides a topo for this area.
CampingSee the Jasper Rock Climbs link
Red TapeYou need to have a National Park Pass to stop anywhere in Jasper National Park. These can be purchased at the Park gates while you are driving in.
There is little red tape in Jasper with respect to the climbing. Bolting has not yet been an issue at the crags that have been developed; nor does it appear to even be on the radar screen of Parks Canada (yet). Obviously, things like cutting or removing trees and other vegetation in the name of route development is illegal and must be avoided at all costs.