OverviewKerkeslin Falls is one of the best moderate routes in the Jasper Area. It's relatively easy approach, alpine atmosphere, big belay ledges, and moderate grades, make it a perfect spot to introduce yourself or others to multi-pitch ice climbing.
Getting ThereThe parking area for this climb is located approximately 1/2 hour's drive south of Jasper on Highway 93. As you are driving south on Highway 93 from Jasper, look for the turnoff to Athabasca Falls (also the Highway 93A junction). Approximately 5.5 kilometres after you pass the turn-off, continuing south on Highway 93, you will start to climb a large hill. At the top of this hill is Goat Lookout (exactly 6.2 km south of the Highway 93A turnoff) - there is a large pull-out which has one new outhouse. Park here.
From the south end of the pull-out, cross the highway and walk about 200 south. From here, start hiking up through spruce, pine, and aspen trees bearing slightly right. In about 20 minutes you will come into a drainage - follow this drainage up until you hit a short two-tiered ice fall.
No matter which option you choose, the main portion of Kerkeslin Falls starts about 200 metres up from this short ice step. The first pitch is easy low angle grade two ice. Climb this pitch (about 35 metres) to an obvious flat belay spot (usually bolts on the right) - belay on the right at the start of the steep ice.
The second pitch contains a short steep section (about 10 metres) and then angles back to grade two ice. Belay at a tree (that has a chain around it). From here you move the belay up on low angle terrain about 30 metres to the left side of pitch 3.
Pitch 3 is the best pitch and the reason why you're here. It's a fabulous wide ribbon of fairly steep grade 3 ice. It's about 35 metres long, so ensure you bring two ropes, or are comfortable downclimbing a short section of ice. Climb any line on this pitch - there is a bolt belay at the top on the right.
You can continue on from here and will encounter more lower angle grade two ice - it can be fun to further explore the mountain, but the first 3 pitches are certainly the best.
Essential GearMake sure you bring two 60 metres ropes for getting down - you can do it with one 60m rope, but it involves a bit of minor downclimbing in spots.
The DescentYou rappel the route. There are bolt anchors at the top of the third pitch. After this rappel, you then walk down (being very careful) to the tree anchor at the top of the 2nd pitch and rappel from there. With two 60m ropes and a little down climbing, you can get to the bottom of the first pitch from this rappel.
If you've only brought one 60m rope, you can rappel from the tree to the top of pitch 1. There are usually bolts on the right (if not covered in ice, but this is rare). From here you can rap to the bottom of pitch 1, with one 60m rope, with a bit of minor downclimbing on steep snow.