Parallel Dreams, 5.11a, 5 Pitches

Page Type
Alberta, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Sport Climbing
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
5.11a (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

2678 Hits
78.96% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
Parallel Dreams, 5.11a, 5 Pitches
Created On: Sep 8, 2009
Last Edited On: Feb 23, 2013


Parallel Dreams, 5.11a4th Pitch- 35m- 5.10b

True Grit on EEOR (East Face of Mount Rundle) is by far a more popular route on the face due to its grade (5.10a-c), but Parallel Dreams (5.11a) is as good of a sport route in my opinion. The rock is the same of course, sharp limestone that you really don’t want to take a whipper on and the bolts are fairly spaced out on Parallel Dreams to boot. But the line is sustained in the upper 5.10 range and the 5.11 roof pull/mantle at the end will challenge you in a fun way to unlock the moves.
Ha Ling
Parallel Dreams, 5.11a

Jones and Zederayko established Parallel Dreams in 1990. The guidebook states “consequences of a fall are unsettling. However, the bolt spacing is just sufficient to prevent anything worse than major skin loss.” This statement is mostly in reference to pitch 2 and I concur. I drew that lead and both I and my partner thought that was the crux lead outside of the boulderish move necessary to overcome the balance overhang on the last pitch. In fact the 2nd pitch was so taxing shortly off the belay that I skipped a clip via a rangey move and chose to run it out further versus attempting to get it clipped. The route is all feet on very sharp limestone in places, lacking the edges that True Grit possesses. When the holds are there, they are side pulls or inverted. The easiest pitch, pitch three at 5.10a, has “money saving” rusty hangers on it. My partner refused to lead it, but I saw nothing out of the ordinary with the fixed gear by Canadian Rockies standards and led the pitch no worries. I was glad to have him rope gun that hard move on pitch five though. It is one of those moves where I think it pays to be 6’3” or taller.

Parallel Dreams does not reach the summit of EEOR and climbs the shorter south end of the east face. You have two options for descent but the most efficient utilizes three 50m rap stations via double ropes with one additional short rappel at the end.

From the Canmore Nordic Center, ascend the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien road (gravel) through the switchbacks to the parking area between Goats Creek and the dam right on the reservoir. This is the most efficient parking area for the trad and sport routes on EEOR. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above Canmore. At times this road will be closed due to rock and/or mud slides. From the reservoir parking area, gain a trail slightly to the south (left of a huge boulder) and ascend steep ground northwest via switchbacks. As you get closer to the south end wall, you will hook into a trail that runs along the base of EEOR. Continue north along the trail looking for a ledge to gain that angles up right via some scramble terrain that peters out with several trees. Scramble up to a belay station with bolts above it that is left of True Grit and runs right of a small roof above.

Route Description

600’+, 5 Pitches, 5.11a

1st Pitch- 30m- 5.10d/ Move up to the corner below the roof and take it to the right via a couple of crux moves. Trend back left to the semi-hanging belay. The rock is brutally sharp on these first few pitches.

2nd Pitch- 40m- 5.10c/ Most of the beta you will find concurs this is the crux pitch of the route outside of the boulderish 5.11 move on the last pitch. Just off the belay it gets stout, zero hands, all feet on very sharp, but vertical limestone. Start out left, but then turn the blank overhang to the right, staying right of the bolt line to find some very indistinct grooves and push up and through this crux until you can traverse back left and climb easier ground that gets hard again below the large ledge belay. The guidebook states that this pitch is “very sustained and the hardest on the climb overall.”

3rd Pitch- 25m- 5.10a/ By far the easiest pitch on the route, but it follows rusty bolts and hangers (2009). Move the belay out right to the arête. But don’t follow the newer bolt line up the arête. After the first bolt, trend out left aggressively following the bolt line until it starts to follow the corner out left. Do a hanging belay on the left wall.

4th Pitch- 35m- 5.10b/ This pitch follows darker and even more “positive” sticky limestone as it trends back right over a roof and up to below a substantial overhang and crux of the route.

5th Pitch- 50m- 5.11a/ Move up on some easy moves to right below the overhang. You can clip the bolt easily on top of the overhang but can’t see your next bolt. Make a very contorted move with your left forefoot getting it high and opposite a side pull way up right. Then make a huge reach for another side pull up left. The whole sequence requires tremendous balance and concentration. More of a boulder move than a typical climbing move. The climbing is still fairly stiff as you have to overcome another overhang of sorts on lesser quality rock further up the pitch. Belay at the long rap chain out right.

Climbing Sequence


With double ropes, take three “straight down” 50m rappels on double bolted rappel “chain” stations (2008). The last rap is a 25m rap to the ground or shorter if just going back to the ramp you started on (where your shoes probably are). You can also rap with a single 60m rope. There is a solid descent topo in the “Bow Valley Rock” guidebook.

Essential Gear

12 Draws and/or Slings will be adequate. They sure did not over bolt the route! Helmet, rock shoes, etc. We used a single 60m rope on this trip, but normally advise double ropes on longer routes on EEOR or Yamnuska so you can make a quick weather exit if need be, taking advantage of the 50m raps. 25m raps are set up as well though. You will return to the base of the climb via the rappels, thus you can leave shoes and other items behind. Some oversized band aids for the skin loss if you fall!

External Links

  • Banff National Park, Parks Canada

  • Alpine Club of Canada

  • DowClimbing.Com

  • Environment Canada