Barrier Lake is a man made reservoir on the Kananaskis River in Kananaskis Country, Alberta. On the west side of Barrier Lake are hiking and biking trails that lead the entire length of the lake. At the south end of the lake is a horse camp. Above this camp is a prominent face (Barrier Lake Buttress
) with a huge water stain
running down its face. Blitzcrag is a 2007 route put in by Brian Spear
and Cam Henderson that runs up the right side of this water mark. The route is a decent “sprint triathlon” outing in that you bike
up and down the hills to get there, then bushwhack
up the steep forested hill to the base of the wall and climb
four 5.10ish pitches to the top of the Buttress. In 2009, red tail hawks
were nesting to the left of the water stain, actively feeding young on July 1. I advise you make this a fall climb to avoid confrontation with this beautiful pair.
The rock is fairly good, however the route is not entirely clean. From what I can tell locally, in 2009, we might have been the 3rd party or so to climb Blitzcrag. We did a little cleaning. The line is fairly straight. The 2nd pitch is the most sustained and interesting, but the last pitch has the crux move of the climb.
3rd Pitch- 25m- 5.10a
Take Highway 40 off of the TransCanada and head south past the Kananaskis information center and take a right into the Barrier Lake Dam parking area. Ride your mountain bikes across the damn and stay with the gravel road as it turns left and follows the power lines along the west coast of the lake. We tried a single track lower down and closer to the lake, but quite a few downed logs make the going slow.
Continue on the road until you cross a small inlet and come to a horse camp on your left. Park your bikes here and head up the hill towards the wall aiming to just right of the huge watermark. There is no established trail. You are more likely to run across a grizzly than another human on this hill. The ground gets steeper as you approach the wall. The route starts just right of some clean overhangs.
Route Description400’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.10b
1st Pitch- 35m- 5.9/
When I looked up at this pitch, I thought no way this could be 5.9, but there were a few slab moves at the grade. The bolts are well spaced
on this route and it does have some of the sharper limestone characteristics
common on Canadian Rockies limestone walls. Trends left to a small ledge below a corner out left.
2nd Pitch- 32m- 5.10a/
Move left and climb the more solid ground (crux) just to the left of the dirty and loose corner and take the small overhang above. Then up slabby waves to a hanging belay below a terrace.
3rd Pitch- 25m- 5.10a/
Gain the terrace and move right at first, then left, staying left of the corner and roof on slab moves to a hanging belay left of the bulge.
4th Pitch- 20m- 5.10b/
Make a traverse right to gain a water worn groove (crux of the climb) and slab climb up to easier ground and the top rappel rings.
A 60m will not make it back to the top of the 2nd pitch. A 70m rope might. With a 60m top, rappel the route in four rappels.
60m rope, 70m rope might save you one rap. You only need eight quick draws as they spaced out the bolts quite a bit. I advise a helmet, it is not climbed much, plenty of loose stuff still en route when we climbed it. Trust me, you want to bike in, not hike, easy gravel road the whole way.
External LinksKananaskis Country
Alpine Club of Canada