Beauty Creek is the tributary that feeds Stanley Falls in Jasper National Park
on the east side of the Columbia Icefield Parkway north of Tangle Ridge
. There are many ice routes that form in the shadows of Tangle Ridge, but the most common is Shades of Beauty, 120+/- meters of WI 4 ice
I climbed in May, 2006.
The approach along Beauty Creek Trail is quite memorable. Although I have been to the summit of Tangle Ridge
, I had yet to venture back along its north side until climbing Shades of Beauty. Beauty Creek Trail runs you along a deep canyon named Stanley Falls (photo). This canyon is very similar to Johnston (Banff National Park) and Marble Canyons (Kootenay National Park), but more remote and less visited. No less than 8 waterfalls descend through this limestone gorge (Stanley Falls). The approach to the ice routes in this area actually travels the left bank of this gorge.
The ice routes are numerable, however inconsistent in form from year to year:
SUNWAPTA FALLS , 65m III, WI 3- Directly east of where you park.
CHALKSTONED, 60m III, 5.8, WI 3- Left of Stanley Falls
RICK BLAK MEMORIAL, 50m III, WI 5
- 100 meters right of Shades of Beauty
SHADES OF BEAUTY, 120m III, WI 4
STANLEY FALLS SENIOR, 45m III, WI 4- Directly across from Shades of Beauty
FREE AND FOCUSED, 30m IV, WI 5R- 30 minutes east of Shades of Beauty
SOUL ASYLUM, 25m IV, 5.7, WI 4+- 200 meters right of Free and Focused
The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Continue past the Banff and Sunshine Ski Resort exits to Lake Louise. Exit onto the Icefields Parkway. Drive 130 kms+/- northwest to the Columbia Icefield Center. Continue for approximately 15 kms into Jasper National Park to a pullout on the right, less than 3 kms south of the Beauty Creek Hostel
. This is the trailhead for Beauty Creek Trail.
There is a park kiosk as you enter the Icefields Parkway which serves as a forced stop to check park driving permits which you should already have. The Icefields Parkway is probably the most “wildlife viewed” road in all of North America. I have witnessed moose and bear crossing the road in this area. I advise following the speed limit for that reason. We encountered a black bear crossing the parkway at Mosquito Creek in 2005.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the parks via Banff, Jasper or Rocky Mountain House. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Jasper National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website. Parks Canada headquarters are located in Banff and Jasper and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the parks from any direction.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person during non-hibernation months. I advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures.
When to Climb
Ice is best climbed in the winter of course, but this is the Canadian Rockies. We climbed ice three straight days in May and Shades of Beauty was one of our routes. Can’t say its brethren, Stanley Falls Senior, directly across from it was doing so well in May with its southern exposure.
Camping Beauty Creek Hostel
is less than 3 kms north and is partially (whatever that means) open in the winter. The closest camping is located back east 15 kilometers at the Columbia Icefield Campground
located on the north side off of the Columbia Icefields Parkway. You can go on line at Jasper National Park
to pick your camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit, if you are going to use a backcountry site, which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously.
Mountain ConditionsJasper National Park’s website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel.