Sisyphus Summits- 5.10d
Ha Ling (aka Chinaman’s Peak) boasts one of the steeper rock faces
in the Canadian Rockies. Its north face looms over Canmore to the south and is located directly across from Mount Rundle’s east face (EEOR-east end of Mount Rundle)
which is much broader and has many more established lines than Ha Ling’s north face, but is not near as tall of an objective.
Two of Ha Ling's routes are very popular and then there is a huge drop off in what gets climbed on an annual basis. The NE Face is a route I have soloed and probably the most popular easy trad route in all of the Canadian Rockies. If a Canadian Rockies limestone route can actually get cleaned by human traffic, this would be it. But don’t bank on it. Consequently it also gets at least one visit from local rescue personnel every year.
The other popular route on Ha Ling’s north face as well as a much more notable climb, is Sisyphus Summits
, which was once considered the “longest limestone sport climb north of Mexico”.
It is a fully bolted line and truly a Bow Valley classic. I lived full time in Canmore for six years and stared out my master bedroom window directly at the route as I went to bed every night. I have climbed it three times and am not one to do many repeats, always desiring new experiences. It is a worthy route as sport routes go. Today you can convert its 21 listed (by the FAer’s) pitches into 10 total pitches with a 70m rope and complete the line in well under 8 hours if you are efficient and competent.
Sisyphus Summits is similar in nature to Prince of Darkness
at Red Rock, NV
, just longer and colder.
From Canmore, catch the Spray Lakes road south of town which takes you past the Olympic Nordic Center and onto a gravel road that runs underneath EEOR. Continue up to the dam and park by the reservoir. Cross the dam above Grassi Lakes and catch a trail on the other side that runs up into the large scree below the north face of Ha Ling peak. Eventually locate a well-trodden trail through the large rubble/scree that runs all the way to the NE corner which is where the NE face route starts. Sisyphus and others all start further right. About an hour approach for any of the routes.
Routes Listed Left to Right as you face the Wall
NE Face- 5.6, 12 Pitches/ The Bow Valley Rock guide book details this route extremely well via a great topo map. It details 12 pitches, however, the first trip we did it in 9, the 2nd trip in 8 and it can easily be done in 7. We took 2.5 hours of actually climbing in 2003 and 3.5 hours in 2006. This is not an overwhelming route by any means. The first four pitches are easily soled via the competent climber. Pitches 7-8 are also easily combined, particularly with double ropes. I have soloed the route since, it is fairly clean by Canadian Rockies standards.
Sisyphus Summits- 5.10d, 21 Pitches/ The only pitch we did not combine on Sisyphus Summits was the first pitch due to its traversing nature. After that, we combined pitches 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-14, 15-17, 18-19, 20-21 with a 70m rope, never having to simul-climb. The crux combination was clearly pitches four and five. Pitch four owned the crux move of the entire route in our opinion, a hard balancing slab move followed by several more thin moves. Pitch five is one of the 5.10d pitches via the topo, the other being pitch seven which I also have led and would have to say was close to being as challenging as pitch four. Once you get to pitch 12, the climbing eases way back for a few pitches. Then pitches 18 and 19 are both spectacularly fun pitches in the 5.9 range, kind of a gift from Sisyphus after all that hard 5.10 crimping.
Orient Express- 5.9 or 5.11d, 13 Pitches
Remembrance Wall- 5.11b, 12 Pitches
Premature Ejaculation- 5.10b, 9 Pitches
I have climbed through the first six pitches of this route and backed off due to a rain storm. I can say the rock is loose and wet. Wait for late summer dry conditions.
Quick Release- 5.10a, 9 Pitches
I have led the crux pitch of this route and it was quite wet at the time. Wait for late summer conditions. We turned back at a death block at a 5.7 section that, at that time, had to be mantled to continue. It was loose, we did not have pry bars and we had no one down below to monitor if anyone was below us. We had no choice but to back off. I will call that 2008 based on my best recollection. That block could have easily been felled by now.
Finishing Touch- 5.10b, 9 Pitches
A variation finish to Quick Release.
External Links100’s of Canmore and Banff National Park multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
Banff National Park, Parks Canada
Best Coffee/Breakfast/Lunch in Canmore: Castillos
As of 2012, my favorite breakfast/lunch spot. Patio, espresso is strong, food is fresh. Someone there instituted service with a smile, typically unheard of in Canmore anymore.
Best Climbers Hangout: Summit Café
, most likely place to find me in season or my brethren shooting the bull about beta. Best “large” breakfast in town, good coffee as well, serve Mennonite meats from Valbella
, which is the best place to buy free range products anywhere in the world, right here in Canmore.