This is a 1700’+/- ascent day. Mount Rundle’s East (EEOR) summit is located on the border of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Provincial Park. Banff National Park is one of four connecting national parks that make up the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Kananaskis Provincial Park encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park to the east. EEOR is the unofficial name of the east end of the 15km Mount Rundle massif. Its short gain from Goats Creek trailhead and proximity to Canmore make it a popular objective.
EEOR has many published routes of varying difficulty besides the common scramble. Its north face consists of a tall 500 meter cliff overlooking Canmore. Although several of the routes boast above average rock to climb on via Rocky Mountain standards, the natural rock fall from above presents a serious hazard on EEOR. In 2007 a significant piece fell off the north end of the face down to the Spray Lakes Road. There is also a traverse of the entire Mount Rundle massif that is typically performed east to west but is not a typical objective by any means. In fact beta on the route is almost non-existent. EEOR is directly north (across Spray Lakes Road) of Ha Ling Peak, another common scramble objective with north face trad and sport routes.
Geriatric does not reach the summit of EEOR and climbs the shorter south end of the east face. It was the first route established on the south end of the east face in 1975 by Greenwood and Jones. Its 6th pitch (crux) offers one of the more spectacular moves (for moderate grades) on EEOR in my opinion. Although a trad route, Geriatric intersects, on several occasions, one of the more popular multi-pitch sport routes in or around Canmore, True Grit, 5.10c. At times the bolts can be confusing and tempting.
You have two options for descent but the most efficient utilizes three 50m rap stations via double ropes with one additional short rappel at the end. The route is set up to exit at several opportunities regarding suspect weather.
From the reservoir parking area directly across from EEOR, gain a trail slightly to the south and ascend steep ground northwest via switchbacks (this trail start is quite difficult to find…many times we just start heading up the hill). As you get closer to the south end wall, you will hook into a trail that runs along the base of EEOR. Continue north along the trail looking for a ledge to gain that angles up right, past the base of True Grit, via some scramble terrain that peters out with several trees. Belay from here and continue to traverse north along low 5th class terrain until you are below a sharp pointed pinnacle and well south of a yellowish/orange block. Refer to the marked photo.
Route Description240 Meters, 7 Pitches, 5.8
All the belays have two points of fixed protection (bolts or pitons- 2007) and the route can be rapped with single or double ropes via separate rap stations.
1st Pitch- 40m- 5.7/ Traverse out to the small, but apparent, pinnacle to the right and ascend the left side via a crack that is suspect to protect. I believe I got one piece in that I felt confident about. Once at the top of this feature, continue up a groove until you notice a nasty traverse right past several pitons to a two bolt belay on a small ledge. On the way over you will have to make one down climbing move. If you are going to climb in the Canadian Rockies, you will be subject to such traverses on an all too frequent basis.
2nd Pitch- 35m- 5.7/ Climb up and right to gain a corner/ramp that leads back left. Pass at least one piton and aim for a belay where it steepens below a corner at a bolt/piton.
3rd Pitch- 35m- 5.8/ A pleasant corner pitch straight above to a large ledge on the left. Fun and easy to protect including a piton down low. Never a crux move. Move out left onto the ledge at the top, past a chain station and over to a pillar in front of a tree and set up belay at two bolts here. A good place for lunch.
4th Pitch- 40m- 5.7/ This pitch is somewhat run out on slab for the last 20 meters. Ascend the pillar any way you want, the left side goes easy, but loose and hard to protect. The right side has some pitons and is a little stiffer. Once on top of the pillar, try not to get too confused with bolts as you cross the sport route known as Parallel Dreams. Split the bolts above and continue on unprotected slab angling right past one station (True Grit’s 3rd) and continue right for the next two bolt belay.
5th Pitch- 20m- 5.7/ This is the most challenging 5.7 pitch of the day, so I would not advise combining it with the 4th pitch. Climb slabs right above the belay to a corner and follow this corner left to a bolt belay below another, much steeper corner with a definitive slab to your upper right.. You are intersecting the 4th belay of True Grit.
6th Pitch- 35m- 5.8/ Ah….another fun traverse! Definitely the crux pitch and move of the day. Rise up on good climbing in the corner past two pitons to a bolt placed out onto the slab (5 meters). Clip the bolt and then down climb at a rightward angle onto minimal features of the slab until you can cross the slab, left to right, with little in the way of hands to a small chimney/corner/groove at the north end. As you balance yourself on pure slab, make a gutsy move for textured limestone into the grove. Step over into the groove and take a breather. Avoid clipping the bolt out on your right (with the route Econoline) , if you do, the rope drag will be too severe. Instead climb up and sink a .75 Camelot into the best rock you can find. Then climb precarious ground up and over onto a ledge with a piton at your feet when you stand up. Continue up right over easy ground, with easy protection (#4 and #1 Camelots) for a two bolt belay on a wall with a small ledge below it.
7th Pitch- 40m- 5.6/ Climb straight up and right and then start angling back left past a piton towards a large ledge. Gain the ledge and move out left climbing up and over the large yellow block and make a station in the cracks on the other side to bring up the second. Your rappel station is down to your right on a huge flat ledge.
DescentWith double ropes, take three “straight down” 50m rappels on double bolted rappel “chain” stations (2007). The last rap is a 25m rap to the ground or shorter if just going back to the ramp you started on (where your shoes probably are).
Normal Canadian Rockies rack. Cams to #4 and full set of nuts. You will find some fixed protection, so you do not need to overdo it with the gear. Helmet, rock shoes, etc. We used double ropes which I always advise on longer routes on EEOR or Yamnuska so you can make a quick weather exit if need be. Also helps considerably with rope drag on these routes. Wear trail runners versus boots so you can haul them on a biner if you so desire. You will return to the base of the climb if you want to leave shoes and other items behind.
Getting ThereFrom the Canmore Nordic Center, ascend the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien road (gravel) through the switchbacks to the Goats Creek Trail head past the dam and reservoir. An alternative parking spot is the parking area between Goats Creek and the dam right on the reservoir. This is the most efficient parking area for the trad routes on EEOR. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above Canmore. At times this road will be closed due to rock and/or mud slides. There are restrooms at the Goats Creek Trail head parking area.
Camping/LodgingThe closest camp site would be back in Canmore at the town campsite at the information center off of the same exit for Harvie Heights. The Alpine Club of Canada national office is located in Canmore and also serves as a hostel, a recently renovated one at that. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Banff National Park or Kananaskis Provincial Park. Refer to the park website(s) for more information regarding backcountry camping.
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