Paintings Wall is the second wall on the left as you near the fork at the Headwall in Grotto Canyon. It is thusly named due to the petroglyphs (photos). They are hard to spot unless you are familiar with where to look. They appear to have been sprayed with some sort of preservative and of course like all petroglyphs are pretty damn neat.
The south Paintings Wall gets decent afternoon sun
in the summer. Paintings Wall features 25 routes
of which only 1 requires gear (Artful Dodger). All the routes are single pitch and can be rappelled with one 60 meter rope. Paintings Wall is broken up into two sections, south and north. The south section features the more moderate routes, mostly 5.10-5.11 and north section has slightly more difficult routes.
From where you parked, trek north up hill to the mouth of Grotto Canyon. Enter the canyon by following the creek bed as it winds into the steep walls. The trail moves back and forth from each bank. Hemingway Wall is the first climbing wall on your left. It is buffered on the left by a swatch of mature trees. A myriad of short trails meander in and about allowing you to clearly scope out this wall. Continue north towards the canyon headwall (fork). Before you reach the headwall the canyon bends slightly east. The Paintings Wall is on your left. The Peanut which features one route is in between Hemmingway and Paintings Wall.
Paintings Wall has some of the same over-polished issues as Hemmingway Wall. I prefer to climb deeper in Grotto Canyon, but always seem to stop for Art of the Ancients
, a 5.9 just left of the petroglyphs, 5 bolts to anchor, classic polished beginning, but not so bad higher up.
Routes Listed Left to Right
Paintings Wall South
Ok Corral- 5.8
Art of the Ancients- 5.9/
5 bolts to anchor; challenging start on polished ground, then much more entertaining (recommend)
5 bolts to same anchor as Art of Ancients; same polished start, then turn right, another fine route on Paintings Wall (recommend)
Left to Chance- 5.10c
Cultural Imperative- 5.11b
Artful Dodger- 5.10a/ Gear to 1.5”
Peter Pan- 5.11a
Paintings Wall North
Hellen Damnation- 5.11d
Tower of Pisa- 5.11c
Tour de Force- 5.12a
Tour de Pump- 5.11b
Fly by Nigh- 5.11c
Walk Don’t Run- 5.11b
Layaway Plan- 5.10c
Watusi Wedding- 5.10a
Jesus Drives a Cadillac- 5.10b
(a good one for the “C4C” crowd)
The routes on Paintings Wall only require a single 60 meter rope for rappels. If you are not going deeper into Grotto Canyon, there is little use for trad gear. The few trad routes throughout the first section are not worth it. The rock is pretty solid throughout Grotto relative to the Canadian Rockies, but of course a helmet is always advisable. Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies is the book you need. You might get by without it if Dr. Topo
has everything you need in terms of which routes you want to do. As of 2006, Dr. Topo did not have the better routes farther into Grotto Canyon.
Canadian Alpine Accident Reports are also extremely helpful and feature no less than 5 accident reports (2006) regarding Grotto Canyon.
Kananaskis Provincial Park