Ben Gadd was in my house showing me photos of the old days and within three days I had two partners coincidently wanting to go up one of his old Wasootch Creek objectives that he published in a pocket sized guide book long since out of print. Wasootch Tower was first ascended by the legendary Hans Gmoser in 1952. His original route was done from the high col to the south. This area is now home to at least two bolted sport routes that appear to reach the summit.
Wasootch Tower is located in Kananaskis Country which encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. It is a prominent, but short, tower that holds down the northwestern ridge of the Fisher Range. It is directly across the valley from the much more popular objective of Mount Lorette.
Wasootch Tower is off the modern climbing map, although Wasootch Slabs is very popular to the Calgary sport climbing enthusiasts and can be studied in “Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies”. Ben Gadd’s Wasootch Creek book is supposedly only still available at the Calgary Library behind locked doors. The route I did on Wasootch Tower, North Ridge, 5.6/7 can be found along with the SE Ridge description in “Kananaskis Obscure” which is a local favorite web print out for….. you guessed it, obscure beta. The beta for the bolted routes on the southern flank of Wasootch Tower are probably out there somewhere, but I have not found the beta to date. There could easily be a project or two in the works on this south side of the tower as well. The approach is so long to get into them that they no doubt are “obscure” sport climbing routes.
The Wasootch Tower North Ridge 5.6/7 has 6 described pitches of which we only roped up for 4. I personally would be comfortable scrambling the whole ridge without a rope and don’t really recommend this climb except for the short day you can make of it.
You won’t find Wasootch Tower in any of our popular published guide books in 2006, but it is easily scoped out to the left as you round the bend of Mount Baldy heading southbound on Hwy 40 (Kananaskis Highway).
Getting ThereTake the Kananaskis Highway (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Travel past Kananaskis Park headquarters and Barrier Lake on your right and Mount Baldy on the left as you are heading southbound. Park at the Wasootch Creek Day Use Area on your left (home to the popular Wasootch Slab sport and trad climbing area).
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Country. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray during non-hibernation months. This is avalanche terrain during the winter. Therefore it would be prudent to check recent notices posted on the park’s website regarding that issue. The park headquarters is actually located on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) several kilometers south of the Trans-Canada. Notices are posted outside if they are closed. This is a solid information center with good staff and beta and are open all year.
When To ClimbI climbed Wasootch Tower in May. No higher than Wasootch Tower is makes it a fine early objective to get in summer shape. Some snow and ice will present itself on approach, but there are a multitude of ways to gain the ridge.
CampingThere is a significant lodging and campground complex several kilometers south called Kananaskis Village. The lodging options here include the Ribbon Creek Hostel and posh Delta Lodge. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website for more information regarding camping and/or lodging.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports are also extremely useful.