Silver Ghost starts right at the top of the trail coming up from Devil’s gap at the base of Grey Wall on Phantom Crag. Although Andy Genereux gives this route his maximum quality rating in his Ghost guide book, we went quite the opposite direction with our opinion of the route. I have done two other 5.10 routes to date (2008) at Phantom Crag, The Wraith which is a much better route and Angelus Vicia which although more sustained, is no better than Silver Ghost in terms of lacking aesthetics as well as solid rock.
Due to Andy’s recommendation and how close it is to the top of the trail, this is probably the 2nd or 3rd most popular route at the Phantom Crag in the South Ghost, 2nd only to the 5.8 Bonanza route and maybe the Wraith. Jones, Wyvill and Enagonio established the Sliver Ghost route in 1998, well over 20 years after the Wraith was put in. Most of Sliver Ghost is a hybrid of prior existing routes, i.e. the Banshee and Grey Ghost. Although the guidebook warns it might be hard to follow, we had no problem with tracking it once we got through the first pitch.
To reach the Phantom Crag area, proceed towards Devil’s Gap by turning left at the bottom of the “Big Hill” and follow the streambed to the top of the dike and turn left following the dike for a short distance into some trees and turn right aiming for Devil’s Gap on a well driven road. More than likely you will encounter several stream crossings as you make for the Banff National Park Boundary which is well marked. You are not allowed to drive across it. Park at the sign(s) and be prepared to wade across the stream bed to the tree line below Phantom Crag. I always take sandals with me to the Ghost for this reason. Look for a cairn marking a well trodden, but narrow and slightly hidden, trail that takes you up to the walls above to the north. Stay left at the fork and continue until just below the wall. Continue about 60m left along the wall base trail and then cut back right up an obvious scramble ramp that lands you at a bolted belay, about 20m back right.
750’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.10a
1st Pitch- 55m- 5.10a/ One can have a difficult time determining which corner to start climbing in. Both choices contain loose and dirty rock. The left option is the appropriate corner. You won’t be able to see two bolts protecting a 5.10a left traverse until you are practically right on them, so keep your eyes open out left. The traverse takes you out of the corner on textured limestone via face climbing. Angle up left as the climbing gets tougher through two more bolts and some scree ledges above. Stay right and ascend another short corner of sorts easier than 5.10. My description makes this first pitch considerably longer than the guide book version which breaks it up differently. Set up a gear belay on a ledge above the corner.
2nd Pitch- 25m- 5.6/ Follow the ramp to the left up easy, but somewhat loose, ground to a small pinnacle with a fixed belay (2008).
3rd Pitch- 40m- 5.8+/ A fun pitch. Move right into a shallow left facing corner. Continue up through a steep, wide crack. The ground eases as you gain a ledge with a single bolt out right. Avoid the single bolt for rope drag purposes and aim your finish out left over run out, but easy ground on solid rock. Belay at a two bolt station out left along the ledge.
4th Pitch- 35m- 5.10a/ Traverse out left past the obvious corner and past a bolt to another right facing corner. Climb this corner which tracks through a shallow groove past a piton (2008) to a small ledge. Clip a bolt (2008) and move left again into a left facing corner up to yet another ledge and a single bolt belay.
5th Pitch- 40m- 5.8+/ Could be labeled the most interesting pitch of the day. Run up the corner with large gear and stem your way around a small roof problem conquering holds you cannot see on somewhat suspect rock. A fairly physical move or two. Once into the hard textured groove above, continue at a left angle, but stop and fix pro for your belay on a small ledge in not the best of cracks. Do not continue up to the large ledge and corner directly above you.
6th Pitch- 30m- 5.7/ Move way out left via slab climbing to a shallow and short left facing corner. Climb the corner past a belay to the top of the wall.
DescentThere is an interesting descent option that got us in a little trouble, thus I recommend that you go ahead and use the Bonanza descent gulley. I have a reputation for rope handling (from my cowboy days), but we got our ropes stuck at a spot that I would have to say is probably quite frequent. The rappel we took was atop the Zephyr route just to the east of where we topped out. I believe our trouble was the 2nd to last double rope rappel. It landed us in a corner/chimney and as we pulled our ropes, one hooked on a loose scree ledge boulder above the chimney. Climbing and down climbing the corner/chimney to retrieve our ropes was not such a big deal, but took time to say the least. This whole wall is fairly loose and if anyone else was climbing, you would definitely want to take the Bonanza Gully descent.
Bonanza Gully Descent: Locate the trail below the large summit block directly ahead and angle down left to meet it. As you descend, you come to a waterfall section on the right, go left and climb down a short 4th class section to a ledge with a few trees. Look on the wall behind you for a fixed rappel station. Take a one rope rappel here, running your rope through the trees, but angle skiers left. Look for a double stationed rappel on the steep wall to the left. You will find a small ledge here in which to set up one double rope rappel (which I recommend to avoid being on this rappel too long- other parties knocking loose rock down from above) or with a 70m rope, you can swing at the bottom to skiers left and hop off the rappel (last person needs to hang on to one end of the rope). Otherwise, with a single 60m rope, you will have to use a mid rappel station and be exposed to rock fall. There is a sport route that runs up this mostly dry waterfall, so you can use the bolt line to find the mid rappel.