Ashlar’s Ridge is a large limestone ridge that runs northwest to southeast approximately 50 minutes east of Jasper Alberta. The rock at Ashlar’s is typical Rockies limestone, with some very good quality rock (generally light grey in colour) and some, shall we say, more challenging rock. The ridge rises up on the east side of the Fiddle River and currently contains three known routes, all around eight pitches or 350 metres in length. The climbing is characterized by steep slab type climbing, with two of the routes following obvious large features, and the other route, an eight pitch sport climb. All routes can be descended by walking off the ridge; helmets are a mandatory accessory.
The potential for new routes in this area is basically untapped. For anyone with the motivation, there is lots of nice rock and new territory to explore.
From Jasper Alberta (located in Jasper National Park) drive east on Highway 16 for about 40 minutes (41 km), until the resort of Pocahontas is reached – turn right (south) here on the well signed road leading to Miette Hot Springs. Follow this road uphill for about 8 kilometres at which time the road starts to descend back down toward the Fiddle River. A large lookout pull-out is located on the left side of the road and can be a good place to stop and scope out Ashlar’s Ridge and the route you plan on climbing. From the look-out drive another 1.3 kilometres until the road parallels the Fiddle River – park in a wide parking spot on the shoulder on the left hand side of the road.
From here there are no trails – walk back north along the road and pick a spot to head over the bank toward the river. Bring two pairs of shoes (or waders), because you need to wade the river. If you’re climbing in July, August, or September, the river is normally no more than a foot deep and is easily waded. From the other side of the river, change into your dry shoes and start the march up the steep dry mountain side. There are no trails – just pick the line of least resistant and start switch-backing up.
It only took us about 45 minutes to get to the bottom of the face, but it could take you as long as 1.5 hours, depending on your fitness. Ski poles are highly recommended; especially for the descent.
There is no red tape required to climb on Ashlar's Ridge. A pass is required to stop in the Jasper National Park, but this is purchased on your way into the park at one of the three main access points.
There is a hostel
right in the town of Jasper. In addition, there are hostels along the Icefield Parkway (Highway 93).
There are also a number of nice campgrounds around the Town of Jasper, as well as campgrounds further outside of Jasper (along the major highways). For those with a little bigger budget, there are numerous hotels/motels to choose from in Jasper. This link
provides additional information on camping, hotels and hostels in the Jasper Park area.
This picture shows the approximate location of the first two routes.
Ashlar’s Ridge is defined by three large gully systems, which start from the right hand side of the ridge. On each side of the gully, there is a large obvious ridge (or knoll) which rises up and meets the wall. These ridges make good reference points for the start of the three known routes.
1. Good Intentions, Bad Habits (5.11a)
– This route starts at the top of the first ridge (or knoll) on the right side of Ashlar’s Ridge. From the top of this ridge, one must make an exposed traverse left along a narrow ridge for about 100 metres to the start of the route. This is an excellent route, making for a very fun day.
2. Cave Route (5.8)
– This route lies to the left of the previous route and starts in the gully between the first and second knoll (from the right). The route makes a rising traverse to the left until it reaches a line about 50 metres to the right of the large gully/chimney in the top centre of the face. The climb is eight pitches in length and is described in the out of print (since 1999) guidebook as follows:
Pitch 1 – Follow line diagonally right
Pitch 2 – Diagonal back left
Pitch 3 – Diagonal back right
Pitch 4-6 – Follow left trending system of broken corners to cave (this cave is fairly obvious)
Pitch 7 – Move up and right on gold holds to exit cave
Pitch 8 – Head straight up steep section to top.
3. Chase/Rowlands Chimney Route (5.7)
– This route is clearly visible from the viewpoint on the road and ends at the large obvious gully/chimney in the middle of the face. The route contains good rock and some not-so-good rock, but this is all pretty typical of Rockies limestone. The route is 11 pitches long and is usually done in 4-6 hours. The route can be runout, but also takes good gear in spots. Ensure your rack has a full set of wires and cams, including many in the smaller range. Pitons can also be taken for belays (but not required) or in case you get lost and have to bail. A good route description and picture of the climb can be found on the following link -
>Chase/Rowlands Chimney Route
The view from the to of Ashlar's Ridge - the road is where you start hiking from.
All of the routes can be walked off, which is recommended. The Good Intentions, Bad Habits, sport route is equipped with bolted stations every 25 – 50 metres and can be rapped if needed; however walking off is quicker and safer.
To walk off simple head south (climber’s right) down the ridge picking the line of least resistance (there is a faint trail in spots) until one gets low enough that you can head back to the north along the bottom of the limestone wall. There is a lot of loose rock and talus on the descent so prepare to suffer a little.
Once you’re back at the bottom of the wall, head down the way you came, hopefully glad you’ve brought ski poles up with you. On a hot day, this descent is dusty and your feet will be burning by the time you reach the river. The wade across the river will feel awesome.
A soak at Miette Hot Springs at the end of the day is a fine way to finish the climb.