Another ice climbing mini-MeccaThe hamlet of Field (population 300), just off the Trans-Canada Highway in Yoho National Park alongside the Kicking Horse River, is one of the great centers of ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies.
About an hour west of Canmore, the eager-eyed climber will start noticing smears on both sides of the road several kilometers before the town appears. The Pillars (WI4) and Field of Dreams (WI5) appear to your right, while Twisted Direct (WI5+) is on your left. Numerous flows continue to drop along both sides of the road before you get to town. And that’s even before you see the popular Beer Routes for which Field is best known.
There are three main climbing areas here.
Yoho Valley Road/ Mt. Ogden. Turn right 3.5 kilometer before Field, and follow the road, which curves along the flank of Mt. Ogden. Park where a gate blocks winter access.
Further up the road dozens of routes have been done, including the Pillars/Field of Dreams, the easiest climbs to reach. “Yet another Rockies mini-Mecca of ice climbing,” Joe Josephson writes in his “Waterfall Ice” guide.
A 14 kilometer ski up the road lies Takakkaw Falls (250 meters, V, WI4). “The classic waterfall of the range,” Josephson calls it.
Mt. Stephen. This area south of the highway sports a number of lines that can either be accessed by parking on Yoho Valley Road or continuing down into Field. The first climb to come into view is a compelling looking flow high on a buttress on Mt. Stephen. This is Twisted (not listed in Josephson’s book but a version is included in Sean Isaac’s "Mixed Climbs"). The right hand start is a mixed climb going at 5.9. The direct (left) start is an unsung classic listed in neither book, Twisted Direct (120 meters, III, WI5+).
Mt. Dennis/ the Beer Routes. Accessed via Field and southwest of town is the most popular climbing area. The climbs are collectively known as the Beer Routes, including such classics as Carlsberg Column(60 meters, III, WI5).
There’s a SP page with some information about the Beer Routes here:
Getting ThereField is located on the Trans-Canada Highway, 36 miles (57 km) east of Golden, 17 miles (27 km) west of Lake Louise, and 53 miles (85 km) west of Banff.
Red TapeVisitors are supposed to have a parks pass, although enforcement of this requirement does not seem to be a priority.
The area is subject to extreme avalanche hazard, so if unfamiliar with current conditions it’s wise to stop at the Information Centre at the entrance to town, which is open daily and where the staff usually has a good idea of what’s in-shape and safe. Despite what Joseph writes, there isn’t a climbing log kept at the center anymore.
As always in the Rockies, it’s nice to write your intended climb in the dust on the back of your car or truck. Or if for some reason, it’s not dirty, even leave a note. After a few weeks you might have a pretty good, if ephemeral, tick list.
External LinksThe best online source for area climbing beta is:
For Yoho NP info:
Yoho National Park