Alberta Jam, 5.11c
I got my first glimpse of Alberta Jam
during the winter of 2008 while climbing a relatively obscure ice climb in the North Ghost, named Unforgiven
. Alberta Jam is a rock face which is shaped somewhat like the province of Alberta. The route Alberta Jam (5.11c) is the prize of this face consisting of a continuous crack from fingers to hands for over 35m.
One correction to the guide book worth making is the fact that this climb can easily be rappelled with a 70m rope
and is obviously not 50m long as Andy Genereux describes it in his "Ghost Rock" guide book. You can also rap October Finger Fest (5.11a) with a 70m rope (just barely), which he claims needs two 25m raps. Bottom line is a single 70m rope is all you need for this wall
Alberta Jam is one of the finer single pitch limestone crack lines in all of Canada in my opinion and I am sure I am not alone in that assessment.
The entire line is sustained moving from 5.11 fingers on a slant to straight up 5.10 hands and fingers to finish. October Finger Fest (5.11a) and Fat City (5.11a) are also good climbs, but are much shorter, half the height, than Alberta Jam and can be accessed by climbing a 5.9 corner named Recky Route. After leading these other routes, we top roped the 5.13aR Dionysus which is a direct version of Alberta Jam
, replacing the 5.11 finger start with a very blank section of climbing off the deck. Alberta Jam and the 5.9 corner were established in 1982
while the other routes came along in the late 90’s.
It is important to note that you cannot cross the Ghost River by truck into the valley of the North Ghost during summer months (2011).
A policy has been in place for several years that the river can be crossed during the winter months (ice climbing), but not in the summer. This policy is relative to fish habitat concerns. The walk and subsequent river crossings to the base of the scree field leading up to Alberta Jam is a pleasant and quick affair and there is no reason to violate this policy and risk being ticketed nor cause damage to the habitat.
Head down the big hill to the main Ghost Wilderness area. Follow the road right as it takes you to the North Ghost. Cross the large gravel drainage to the other side and stay with the dirt road as it crosses a bridge and passes under Wully Wall
. Continue over a light creek crossing and stop at the next much larger crossing where a sign is posted that the road beyond is closed in the summer (2011). Cross the Ghost River on foot and follow the road west into the valley crossing the river again shortly. Continue to follow the road past several of the winter ice routes (dripping drainages in summer) on the right until you come to the base of a large scree field which leads up to a drainage on your right (Unforgiven) and the obvious Alberta shaped wall with the easily identified Alberta Jam crack up and left above the tree line. Cross the Ghost River again and head up staying to the trees for a firmer ground ascent. On descent, you can quickly navigate the scree to the right. There are several scramble options to the base of the wall: the textured slabs on the left or the chossy ledges to the right.
Route Description (s)
Routes Listed Right to Left as you Face the Wall
Dionysus- 40m- 5.13aR/ We top roped this direct start variation after leading Alberta Jam. You can rap with a 70m, but will rap to the base of the angled ledge closer to Alberta Jam’s start versus Dionysus which starts a bit lower. A very blank start bleeds back into Alberta Jam for its remaining 5.10+ section. This route tops out at 40m max, not 50m as the guidebook suggests.
Alberta Jam- 35m- 5.11c/ Perhaps the finest single pitch limestone crack in all of Canada. The route practically starts in the 5.9 corner and follows a finger crack as it angles up and right. Single toe balancing moves with no facial features above is the trick to catching a rest on this sustained section. As the crack straightens out above it backs off to 5.10+ hands and fingers. Continue up the steep crack with several jam rests along the way to a reachy finish on top of the wall to a stance and rap rings. Same as with Dionysus, Alberta Jam tops out much less than 50m.
Recky Route- 20m- 5.9/ This is the easy corner to the left. By stopping at the first fixed station (25m), and bringing up the 2nd, you can tap one of the two 5.11a routes that angle up and right back on the face.
October Finger Fest- 20m- 5.11a/ Climb the Recky Route to the first set of fixed anchors. Follow the wide crack out right and head straight up at a bolt (2011). Moving past the blank face by the bolt is the crux of this pitch and the climbing does not back off much as you follow the unrelenting finger crack up and right to a fixed station above Alberta Jam’s fixed anchor. A 70m rope barely makes the ground from here. Dow
Fat City- 20m- 5.11a/ We got rained off before we could re-climb the Recky Route and take this left hand variation off of the same start for October Finger Fest. As the name implies, it contains an off width crack that runs up and left after the before mentioned bolt on October Finger Fest.
External LinksHundreds of routes detailed from first hand successful accounts by me or others in the Ghost Wilderness Area near Banff National Park. GET OFF THE TOURIST ROUTES and explore!
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