In my opinion, House of Cards, Right, features the best rock and routes in Cougar Canyon
. First and foremost, the routes are long and sustained for their grade. Several consist of two pitches and/or two rappels. House of Cards is the first wall you come to in Cougar Canyon, about 2kms in from the Cougar Creek trail head. In August, 2007, there are actually cougar warning signs as you enter cougar canyon as one just attacked several local residents pets, thus aptly named (see photo of survivor!)
You are looking for four real short pitches on your left with the creek right below them. Then the wall opens up to some longer multi pitch routes in the bend and then you come to a large face higher up the left side of the creek bank to the right. This is House of Cards, Right. It takes some exposed scrambling to reach the base of the routes, of which most have belay bolts stationed down low for the belayer since the ground is somewhat exposed.
This wall features at least 12 pitches and one project (2007). The rock is pretty solid by Canadian Rocky standards, partly due to the wall being high enough up from the creek that it stays dry versus greasy. Yet you still enjoy the sound effects of the running creek. Also, the grades are stiff enough avoiding the traffic that the lower grade routes receive, thus the holds do not get so polished. The approach ledge is quite scrambly, if there are folks already up there, it is best to suit up down by the creek.
Route Description(s)Routes are Listed Left to Right, South to North
- Talamasca P1- 25m-5.10b/ Some of the grades here are quite sustained. The first pitch of Talamasca is sustained, but more at 5.10a than 5.10b in my opinion. I did not have time to do the 2nd pitch of Talamasca this particular outing. Talamasca is a really fun pitch with a little of everything, some roof action, stemming, layback. This is the last route reached to the left via the scrambly ledge. Be careful getting over to it.
- Talamasca P2- 18m-5.10c/
- Sun Dogs- 25m-5.10c/ My favorite route on House of Cards, maybe in Cougar Canyon. Many would want a stick clip, but I have always been comfortable with the first moves to the first bolt. Nice sustained route for the grade. Not as bad traverses as some of the other good 5.10c's on this wall, i.e. Byzantium and Londinium.
- Ashtaroth P1- 25m-5.11a/
- Ashtaroth P2- 18m-5.11a/
- Is That Your Dog?- 25m-5.11b/ (gee I wonder how this one got named?)
- Heliopolis- 30m-5.11b/
- Byzantium- 30m-5.10c/Might be the best route in Cougar Canyon. Several locals think so. Start just right of the large spruce tree with a belay bolt. This is a full 30m pitch through 13 bolts to the fixed top rope anchor. Quite sustained, but the first real crux is through the depression about a third of the way up. The true crux awaits at the top third. The middle section is by far the easiest. Tons of weight and balancing moves, side to side, will make this route a breeze if performed correctly. Second time up you will go much faster and smoother. Byzantium involves mostly featured face climbing.
- Londinium- 33m-5.10c/ Another fun and sustained, but weird pitch. I used old ice doubles in twin formation….as I neared the top, I wished I had my rock doubles with me as the route takes a much more drastic right turn than reflected on the topo in John Martin’s guide book. The ropes ran out 35m to 40m and I was faced with some serious rope drag on that right traverse which involves the crux move of the pitch. No worries, but would rather have had some runners (vs draws) on a single rope or used true doubles. The route is not designed to be top roped for the 2nd unless you want to rig it up that way with two ropes and pass the knot when the 2nd is at the low rappel station. There are rap rings 24m down, but you can stretch this into a 30m rap with a thin dynamic rope straight down if the belayer will walk out left up the wall. Super route, not any more difficult than Byzantium, but not near as straight. Again, you will speed through it the 2nd time once you know where all the keys are.
- Sailing to Sarantium- 30m-5.10d/
Next Wall to the Right
- I Heard a Ga-Zump- 20m-5.10c/
- Revenge of the Luddite- 30m-5.10a/
If you have beta about any of the routes not yet climbed first hand by me, please add it to the comment section and I will get it added.