Heavyweight Contender is the most direct route to the top of Wully Wall in the North Ghost. Consolation is by far the most popular route on Wully Wall and Heavyweight runs up just to the left of it and actually intersects it for its most redeeming quality, the exposed foot rail pitch. Heavyweight Contender is yet another of Andy Genereux’s routes (author of the Ghost Rock guidebook). He established it in 2002 and like many of his routes, it is over bolted, a bit soft for the grade and at times hard to correspond to his notes.
The first two pitches are the best on the route. I led all the pitches and would advise the first one as a good pitch for an entry level trad leader. It is a nice 5.7-5.8 trad lead accepting all kinds of gear. Still Andy put a few bolts on it as you meander over broken ground towards the fixed belay. The second pitch is the crux of the climb if for no other reason than it can be quite wet and chossy. I found it in those conditions in late July. Move up and left past a bolt into a deep right facing corner (not a shallow left facing corner as the guidebook suggests). Continue up the sustained corner passing through a small roof/off-width that protects well. The third pitch is fully bolted. It was my second time up this line of bolts as I took this pitch as a variation when I climbed Consolation versus groveling up fifth class ground to the right. There is no way this is 5.10b in my opinion but that is how Andy has it rated. The pitch seemed much easier. Just move right and follow the bolts up solid slab edges to the next fixed belay. The fourth pitch did not look or feel much like 5.10a either, although one move off of the first deck to gain the first corner was probably at the grade. After that corner, follow spaced out bolts up and left to a fixed belay in the awesome traverse pitch of Consolation. The fifth pitch is nothing more than completing the exposed foot rail pitch to the fixed belay up and left. When on Consolation, you go around the arête and do not use this belay. The final pitch goes to the bolt you see above the belay and then takes the arête around to the corner and finishes up on Consolation. A much better finish would be to take the 5.10c/d bolted finish of Rattie the Rope Eater. All three routes end up at the same rap station on top.
Head for the North Ghost. As soon as you cross the bridge, turn left and pull into the first campground spot. Locate the decent trail (hard to get a visual for the start of the trail) immediately heading up the hill to the wall. Cross the drainage to the left at the top and you will be standing below the Trace route. Continue left to find the start of Heavyweight Contender, a shallow groove leading to a crack which leads up a short chimney to a ledge with a large tree. Move left to the fixed belay. There is an orange (2010) hanger on the first pitch about 20’ off the deck.
Route Description650’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.10b
1st Pitch- 50m- 5.8/ As with most of the pitches on Heavyweight Contender, this first pitch seemed a bit soft for the grade. Start up a left angling groove that turns into a decent wide crack. Place gear at will, but you still come across one bolt before the crack even starts. Once you top out of the crack, look for some more bolts leading up and left on loose and broken ground. Follow them up to a short chimney (easy climbing) and move left to the fixed ring bolt belay at the top of the chimney.
2nd Pitch- 40m- 5.9/ This was the crux pitch of the route in my opinion. Move up and left past two bolts to enter a significant right facing dirty and wet corner (July). Stem up this corner passing several bolts higher up placing larger gear in the muddy corner on the way. Towards the end, enter the off width to overcome the roof, there is a bolt on the outer edge, but not needed as you seemed to have plenty of 1”-2” placement opportunities deep in the crack. I suspect this bolt is for those unwilling to do the off width and would rather layback this section. Continue up easier ground to the fixed ring bolt belay.
3rd Pitch- 15m- 5.10b/ This fully bolted pitch has never felt like 5.10b to me (soft for the grade) and I have climbed it twice. Move right and follow the bolts up on solid limestone slab with good edges to the next fixed ring bolt belay on a loose ledge.
4th Pitch- 35m- 5.10a/ This is a real broken pitch. Move over the ledge to the short corner. There is a bolt, but it does not protect the move as it is located too low. Make the only 5.10 move on the pitch to get above the bolt in the corner. Continue to follow various bolts up and left as you keep ascending the different ledges until you come to yet another ring bolt belay on the traverse pitch of Consolation.
5th Pitch- 25m- 5.8/ This is the most infamous pitch on Wully Wall. Do the Consolation foot ledge traverse out left past a bolt and a piton and then follow easy ground up and left (bit run out) to the ring bolt belay right before the arête next to some large blocks.
6th Pitch- 35m- 5.10a/ Move up to the top of the loose block out left and clip the bolt above. Then move up and around the arête into the Consolation corner pitch. Finish to the top of this corner to the top of Wully Wall and a ring bolt rappel.
DescentI used double 60m ropes for the straight down rappel, but you could descend this wall via a variety of fixed gear. Although it would be tempting to skip a rap here or there, I advise against it due to rope pull and subsequent potential rock fall. Take a double rap back down to last belay. Then another past a deep corner/chimney on your left that reaches an older rap on a ramp. The next several raps are free air type of raps utilizing piton/bolt combinations with some old tat here and there (2010). Do a free air rap off of the ramp, making more of a true double rope rap before you find your next station below an overhang. Make a single rope rap to a ledge out left with a tree and one final double rope rap to the ground.
External Links100’s of Ghost and Bow Valley multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
Best Eats in Canmore: Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, all organic fare, not just a pizza place, but a true best of the best mountain local dining experience, great on site owner and customer service with a smile, not easily obtained in Canmore
Best Eats in Banff: The Bison, all organic/free range fare, with a detailed description of their suppliers. Recently expanded (2010), I recommend sticking with the downstairs. Better menu, prices and social ambience. Maybe retire to the bar upstairs for sunset or late night. Bison chili is amazing!
Best Coffee in Canmore: Beamers, the locals favorite, super wholesome lunch stuff, local guys, no attitude on service
Best Climbers Hangout: Summit Café, most likely place to find me or my brethren shooting the bull about beta. Best breakfast place in town, good coffee as well, serve Mennonite meats from Valbella, which is the best place to buy free range products anywhere in the world, right here in Canmore.
Climbing Gear: All way too expensive in the Bow Valley, but if you must, Mountain Magic in Banff is far superior to service and actual knowledge about climbing than the two in Canmore.